What is a Novena?
The word novena is derived from the Latin word ‘novem’ meaning ‘nine’. A novena is a traditional Roman Catholic devotion consisting of a powerful set of prayers prayed publicly or privately, most commonly on nine consecutive days, and usually for a special intention. One does not have to be Catholic to pray a novena, all who desire to become closer to our Lord are welcome to experience the many blessings this special form of prayer can bestow. Novenas are often prayed when going through difficulty and crisis in one’s life or at any other time one is seeking special graces, guidance or intercession. Virtually all novenas can be said at any time of the year but some are also particularly appropriate for certain times of the year.
An example of this would be The Novena to the Holy Spirit for the Seven Gifts. This novena is traditionally prayed between Ascension Thursday (40 days after Easter when Christ ascended into Heaven) and Pentecost Sunday (50 days after Easter when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles). These ten days were once known as ‘Expectation Week,’ commemorating the time when Mary and the apostles gathered in the Upper Room to pray together for the coming of the Holy Spirit. In this same way, we devote ourselves to prayer and ask the Lord to grant the same Holy Spirit to us, that He may perfect in our souls the work of His grace and His love.