I asked my son, soon to be in sixth grade at our Catholic parish school, if he knew what a Novena was. Sometimes I just randomly ask my kids questions to see if they know the answer and sometimes I do it strictly for amusement because if they don't know the answer, they are sure to make something up. This child is my most creative one and he has a very unique way of looking at the world. His answer? "A Novena is something that burns easily." Little did I know that he was on the right track. I just needed to fill in the blanks.
The word Novena is a derivative of the number nine, a novena is a prayer lasting for nine days. This is a model of the first Christians, who after the Ascension of Our Lord, gathered in prayer in the upper room for nine days and on the tenth day, the Holy Spirit descended. A great wind filled the room and tongues of fire rested on their heads. This happened on the ancient Jewish festival called the "feast of weeks" or Pentecost. This event also marks the very first Novena!
Ok, so now I'm seeing a connection between fire and prayer. My son is brilliant!
Novenas can be divided into categories. There are novenas to Our Lord, our Lady, the saints and angels. It is also customary for the titular saint of the parish to be honored with nine nights of prayer.
Novenas can also be perpetual. Instead of nine consecutive nights, they can be prayed every week. The Miraculous Medal Novena is often prayed in Catholic parishes every Monday.
It is customary for Filipino churches to have a Perpetual Novena for Our Lady of Perpetual Help, whose feast day is June 27th, which also happens to be my wedding anniversary!
Novenas are a wonderful way to enrich your prayer life. I don't know if they can burn easily but I do know that anything is possible!