The Rosary Novena
The Rosary Novena is the most powerful way to pray the Rosary. It takes the beauty and power of the Rosary to a new level and is nearly unequaled in drawing down the grace and blessings of God.
The Rosary Novena approaches perfection as a prayer form. It follows all the advice given by Jesus in the Gospels on how to pray in a way that is pleasing to God.
Balanced Petition And Thanksgiving
When Jesus cured the ten lepers, only one returned to thank Him. "Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they?" Luke 17:18). We, the needy creatures that we are, are quick to request God's help when we are in need. But once we have what we requested, we just as quickly turn our backs on God and focus our attention only on the gift we have received. We should, instead, thank God for answering our prayers for at least as long as we spent asking for his help. The Rosary Novena does this, with equal time being spent in petition for what we need and in thanksgiving for receiving it.
Petition Combined With Trust
"Have faith in God. I tell you solemnly, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Get up and throw yourself into the sea', with no hesitation in his heart but believing that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. I tell you therefore: everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours"Mark 11:22-25). "Is there a man among you would hand his son a stone when asked for bread?...how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him" (Matthew 7:9-11). These are just a few of the many times that Jesus implored us to trust completely in the love, care, and trustworthiness of our heavenly Father. If what we are asking for is truly in our, or someone else's, best interests, we should have complete confidence that God, the good and loving Father, will grant what we have asked for. Like a little toddler, who simply runs to their parent and cries when they need something, we should trust completely that our heavenly parent will provide us with everything that is truly good for us when we "cry" to him in prayer.
This, too, is an integral part of the Rosary Novena. The first half of the Novena is prayed in petition for whatever is needed, with complete trust that God has, in fact, actually already granted what we have asked for, but has not yet revealed it to us, much like a wrapped present placed at the foot of a Christmas tree that we will get to open at a later time. During the second half of the Rosary, we continue trusting in God by offering sincere thanksgiving for the gift we have received, even if it is still "sitting under the tree" and it has not yet been revealed to us that we have received what we have asked for.
Perseverance In Prayer
"Search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you"(Matthew 7:7). A single prayer alone is often not enough to obtain for us what we have asked for. Jesus taught us that loving, trusting perseverance is often required.
If we always received what we wanted the moment that we requested it, our relationship with our heavenly Father would degrade to mere acts of manipulation on our part. God would become little more than a vending machine in our eyes. We would deposit the "coins" of prayer, and out would pop the grace or blessing that we selected. To keep our relationship one of humble and loving petition between a child and their parent, God often makes us wait for a while before he grants what we have asked. He makes us ask him several times for the same thing, and waits to see if we will get impatient, angry, distrustful, or disrespectful, or if we will remain loving, obedient, and trusting while we wait for him to answer our prayers.
Another reason that God often makes us ask several times for something before he grants it is to test our dedication to receiving it. How much work are we willing to do in order to obtain what we want? If we are praying for the salvation of a particular soul, how precious is that soul to us? Are we willing to give our life in order to bring them to heaven? Are we willing to spend the rest of our lives in prayer and penance? Would we dedicate a year? A month? A day? An hour? What is the limit of what we are willing to invest in order to receive what we have asked for?
This aspect of perseverance in prayer is also a part of the Rosary Novena. The Novena requires a total of 54 consecutive days to complete, involving 9 complete Rosaries (15 decades each) in petition and 9 complete Rosaries in thanksgiving. If you are not fully dedicated to receiving what you are asking for in the Novena, it becomes very easy to not bother praying the Rosary for the full 54 days in a row.
What Is A Novena?
In essence, a novena is a group of nine spiritual acts performed consecutively in order to obtain a specific blessing. This prayer form is based on the nine days of prayer performed by the apostles as they waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit after Jesus' ascension. It is intended especially to utilize the aspect of perseverance in prayer to obtain the spiritual gifts we need. Virtually any Christian devotion or penitential act, such as prayers, fasting, almsgiving, or receiving holy communion, can be used to form a novena, simply by setting up a schedule of nine consecutive acts. For example, you can pray an Our Father novena, by praying either nine Our Fathers at the same time, one each hour for nine hours, one each day for nine days, or one each week for nine weeks, etc., depending on the spiritual significance of why you are offering it to God.
The additional grace that is attached to the Novena, over and above what you would receive by praying the nine individual prayers separately, comes from your commitment to performing a specific number of spiritual acts at specific times and your perseverance in carrying through on that commitment. It is the difference between saying to God, "I will definitely do these specific things for you, regardless of what else happens" and saying "I might do something for you later, if I feel like it and nothing else comes up".
The Rosary Novena originated in 1884 at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei. After appearing to and curing a dying woman, Fortuna Agrelli, Our Blessed Mother told her, "Whoever desires to obtain favors from me should make three novenas of the Rosary in petition with the reciting of the fifteen decades of the Rosary and three in thanksgiving". By 1885, over 900 cures had been recorded at the shrine.
How Is The Rosary Novena Prayed?
The Rosary Novena is prayed in the same way as a single Rosary is prayed, with the exception of the intention at the beginning of the Rosary.
On each of the 54 days of the Novena, 5 decades of the Rosary are prayed. On the first 27 days, the main intention asks for whatever blessing you are seeking. On the remaining 27 days, the main intention thanks God for granting what you have sought, even if it has not yet been revealed to you that you have received it.
The first 27 intentions might take a form similar to: "Dear Lord, we offer this Rosary as part of our Rosary Novena for the gift of ...". While stating the intention, you should also affirm to yourself that God, in the abundance of his love, has truly granted what you are requesting through the Novena, and try to fully trust and love God in return.
The last 27 intentions might take a form similar to: "Dear Lord, we offer this Rosary as part of our Rosary Novena in thanksgiving for the gift of ...". While stating the intention, you should also try to fully believe that God has, in fact, really granted you what you have requested, and try to thank him with the same sincerity as you would if you had what you requested "sitting in front of you" already.
It is important to note, however, that each of the 54 Rosaries must be prayed consecutively. That is to say, within the parameters of whatever schedule you have set up for the Novena, none of the scheduled sessions can be missed. If you prefer to pray 1 full Rosary (i.e. 15 decades) for 18 days in a row, that is fine, so long as none of the days are missed. You could also decide to pray only 5 decades once a week for 54 weeks, and the Novena would also remain intact so long as none of the specified weeks were omitted. In short, whatever schedule you decide on at the start of the Novena must be adhered to for the duration of the Novena. If a session is missed, the Novena should be restarted.
Using an explicit intention during the Novena is very important, for it focuses you on what you are trying to accomplish through the Novena, and helps you to muster sincere faith, trust, love, and thanksgiving.
It is also very important that you do not look at how or when you receive what you have requested through the Novena, but only if you do in fact receive what you have requested. God typically answers our prayers through ordinary events in our lives rather than through "miracles". God works so humbly and quietly that, most of the time, we receive what we have asked for through what seems to be mere coincidence. It is also often the case that, when we receive what we have asked for, we find that it was on its way to us long before we even started the Novena. This tempts us to believe that the Novena had nothing to do with our receiving it. But that is not true. God knows what we will ask for through the Novena before we even know it ourselves, and he often starts to give us what we will ask for even before we have asked for it. But if we do not pray the Novena, we will not receive it. The opposite is also sometimes true. We ask for something through the Novena, but God holds off revealing it to us until the optimum time, according to his wise plan for us. To us, it seems that our Novena did not bring us the blessing we had requested, but in reality God has already granted it, but is hiding that fact until the appropriate time. As with all prayer, we should simply wait faithfully and gratefully until God reveals to us that he has granted what we have requested.
If you pray the Rosary Novena in this way, with complete love, trust, perseverance, and thanksgiving, it absolutely will not fail to bring you what you have requested, so long as it is in the best interests of the souls for whom you seek it. As with single Rosaries, this is because Mary herself unites our prayers to hers before presenting them to God on the altar of her Immaculate Heart. And having made our blessed Mother the treasurer of his mercy and grace, specifically so that we could obtain more from him than we deserve on our own, God refuses her nothing she requests of him.
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