THE IDEA OF A NOVENA
The word “novena” comes from “novem”, the Latin word for the cardinal number nine. Since the foundation of the Church, believers have prayed with confidence over a period of nine days for all sorts of intentions.
The focus on nine days has been a feature of prayer in the Church from its very beginnings. In fact we learn from the Acts of the Apostles that the Church came into existence at the end of a “novena”. It began on the afternoon of Ascension Thursday and ended on the morning of Pentecost Sunday, nine days later.
The Scriptures give us a detailed account of what happened over those nine days:
“While Jesus was at table with His disciples (after the Resurrection) he had told them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for what the Father had promised. “It is”, he had said, “what you have heard me speak about……you will receive the power of the Holy Spirit which will come on you, and then you will be my witnesses not only in Jerusalem but throughout Judaea and Samaria and indeed to earth’s remotest end”………..So from the Mount of Olives, as it is called, they went back to Jerusalem, a short distance away, no more than a Sabbath walk; and when they reached the city they went to the upper room (cenaculum) where they were staying; there were Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas , Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Jude son of James. With one heart all these joined constantly in prayer, together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus and with his brothers” cf. Acts I: 1-14.
This is the only passage in Scripture where we learn that the eleven Apostles, some women, and “his bothers”, described in the Bible of Jerusalem as “close relations of Jesus” were privileged to be constantly in the physical presence of Mary the mother of Jesus over a period of a “novena”. We can be sure that this Mother of All Goodness will be with us in spirit over the period of our own Novena as we prepare for the Annual Global Rosary Relay for the Sanctification of Priests on the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, her Divine Son, on Friday, June 28th.
Bernard J.McGuckian S.J.
SOLEMNITY OF CORPUS CHRISTI: THURSDAY, JUNE 20.
Today’s Feast of Corpus Christi was first entered into the Liturgical Calendar of the Universal Church 775 years ago in 1264. This initiative came from revelations by the Risen Lord Himself to Saint Juliana in her Congregation near Liege, Belgium. To this humble nun, He revealed His desire that a day be set apart to celebrate with special solemnity the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. Although the inestimable gift of the Blessed Eucharist was made possible through the cruel, unjust slaughter of the Lamb of God, for which all of humanity should be ashamed and ask forgiveness, the special emphasis of today’s feast is the joyful celebration of the Supper of the Lamb. Without our priests, there would be something missing in our efforts to respond to this divine call to joyful celebration. So, let us lift up our hearts! Sursum corda!
St Juliana, pray for our Priests, especially those who minister to us in our Church community……
As there are people participating in our Novena on all five continents, we suggest that you pray for your priests through the saints of your own country. While there are thousands of canonised saints and blessed in heaven, there are only 365 days in the year. So, not all of them find their names in the Universal Calendar of the Church. Without the ministry of their priests none of these great saintly people would have reached the heights of sanctity to which they attained.
O God, who in this wonderful Sacrament have left us a memorial of your Passion, grant us, we pray, so to revere the sacred mysteries of your Body and Blood that we may experience in ourselves the fruits of your redemption. Who live and reign with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God forever and ever.