A novena is a Catholic prayer that must be prayed for either nine days or nine hours. If you want to say a novena, you must recite a specific prayer or series of prayers with an intention in mind. Praying a novena is a common ritual in the Catholic Church and can be a spiritually enriching experience. Here are some basic tips you should follow, but remember: there is no single way to say a novena.
Part 1 of 2: Preparing for the novena
Step 1. Learn more about the novena
Superstitions are not encouraged by the Catholic Church. According to the institution, praying a novena is no guarantee of a miracle. Prayer, however, is seen as a way of showing devotion to God.
A novena is different from an octave. An octave is an eight-day period of prayer that usually comes before Christmas or Easter. The ritual is usually more festive than the novena
Step 2. Find out about the different types of novena
Most novenas can be classified as belonging to one or more of the following categories: mourning, preparation, requests, and forgiveness novenas. Some novenas may fit into more than one category.
- Mourning novenas are usually held before burials.
- The preparatory novenas are happy and usually precede festive dates.
- The petition novenas are to ask for a sign, an intervention, or some other kind of help from God.
- The novenas of forgiveness are acts of contrition for sins committed. Usually, they are carried out along with confession, within the church.
Step 3. Establish your intention
Novenas are prayers made with a specific intention or request in mind. Before you start praying, make it clear in your mind what your intention is.
It may be that you need guidance as you reach a turning point in your life, or that you just want to express pain or joy
Step 4. Choose a prayer or series of prayers for the novena
If you don't know which one to choose, ask a priest for help. The most common are the Novena de São Judas Tadeu, São José and Santa Teresinha. Prayer series often contain different prayers that should be recited daily. Some examples of novena with more than one prayer are the Immaculate Conception, the Sacred Heart, the Holy Spirit and the Divine Mercy.
- The Divine Mercy Novena traditionally begins on Good Friday.
- You can also create your own novena.
Part 2 of 2: Praying the novena
Step 1. Pray the novena for nine days if you want to follow the traditional length
The most traditional way to say a novena is to recite the prayers at least once a day for nine days. Choose a time of day to pray and try to follow the schedule daily.
If you pray at 9 am on the first day, for example, always pray at 9 am on the remaining days
Step 2. Choose an alternate nine-hour format for shortening
A shorter and more compact alternative is to say a novena per hour for nine hours. Choose a period of nine hours when you are free at regular intervals to pray.
If you start at 8am, for example, pray again at 9am and so on until you reach 5pm
Step 3. Say vocal prayers and direct your prayers to God or a saint
Saying a vocal prayer does not mean praying aloud, but reciting ready-made words. You can do this both out loud and mentally. Also, you can either read the prayer or recite it by heart.
Vocal prayers are different from meditation and contemplative prayer, the other two styles most common in the Catholic Church
Step 4. Pray in a private place or with a group from your church
Usually, the faithful prefer to pray the novenas alone and in private. When the intention is for a large group of people, however, it may be preferable to pray together. Public novenas are usually organized by the churches and can be prayed for specific reasons or in preparation for a festive date.
You may need to go to church daily to pray, but in some cases you just need to say your prayers at home at the same time as other believers
Step 5. Start the novena and don't abandon it
Once you've decided to start a novena, it's very important that you stick to it. While dropping a novena in half does not entail any punishment, ending it can be spiritually beneficial to you.
- If you accidentally skip a day, pray twice the next day or delay the novena one day.
- Remember to always keep your intention in mind when reciting prayers.