Most years, I consider October to be the calm between the back-to-school & holiday seasons. Maybe it's just me, but this year feels different. This October gives me a sense of everything being 'stirred up' or in flux. You can feel that change in the air, literally, as the temperatures cool. Also all the activity this month has brought so much to the forefront--the good, the bad, and the ugly--resulting in mixed emotions: SGC babies being born and more to come (yeay!)Caring for our ill or aging family membersImpeachment hearingsAll Souls Day to honor our dearly departedThe Church considering married priests & female deaconsBlack magic hexes on the President, his cabinet & supportersCanonization of new saintsReported increase in satanic activity leading up to Halloween40 Days for Life Campaign to end abortionHoly Rosary MonthI saved rosary month for last because it truly is the best! During this tumultuous October, one thing has given me a stable footing: praying the rosary. As St. Padre Pio would say, "Bring me my weapon!" The rosary our greatest weapon against evil. Why? Pardon the simplicity but because the devil fears Mary. By the power of God, she has "crushed the serpent's head" or defeated him (Gen 3:15) by giving birth to Jesus Christ, the Lord of all who overcame death for all mankind so that we too may join Him in Heaven (Rev 19:10). Simple, right? Hmmm...check out The Bible Project for a detailed, animated explanation. The kids & teens will love it too!
I don't pray the rosary every day of the year (as I should), but when life warrants Divine intervention or special thanksgiving (oh, I think the long list above qualifies), I bring in the heavy artillery...rosary novena and litany prayers.
You know what a novena is but in case you ever need to explain it to a non-Catholic, a novena is a traditional Catholic form of prayer where you ask our Lord to answer a specific need or prayer request over a period of nine days. As with any prayer, we submit ourselves to the Lord's will. With all sincerity, we approach God with the attitude of 'thy will be done'. We offer our request, but remain faithful to God even if our request isn't granted in the manner we expected. After all, the goal of prayer is not to see what we can get out of God. We pray to be in communion with God, to understand His will so that our hearts may be transformed, according to His plan for us. (CCC 2565) When we align our will to His will is when our prayers have the greatest chance of bearing fruit. For when we pray, we bare our hearts to God, and humbly acknowledge that we depend on Him for all our needs. We trust in His goodness. When we do all these things, we hold up our end of man's covenant with God. (CCC 2562-2564)
Not all novenas require praying the rosary. But that's my go-to since I was raised to believe that asking the Lord's mother, our spiritual mother to intercede on our behalf, only magnifies and beautifies our request to God. After all, Jesus is Lord and the most perfect, obedient son. How could He refuse a request from His perfect mother?
This is just one suggestion to incorporate the novena into your prayer life: when praying the rosary, before announcing the first mystery state your petition or prayer intention, "I offer this rosary for the victims of abortion". Following each "glory be", add the requiem prayer: P. Eternal rest grant unto (name of person or group e.g. "all the souls in purgatory"), O Lord. R. And let perpetual light shine upon them (him, her). P. May they rest in peace. R. Amen.
I recite the same prayer for 9 consecutive days, ideally at the same time each day. It may not be convenient, but I suppose that's what sacrifice means. When we pray, we offer a sacrifice (ourselves, our time, our labor) to God. There are many novena prayers, specific to the request or related to feast days. Find a list atCatholic Novena App. Prayer is between you and God so you may use these guides and customize your prayers.
If you haven't had a chance to pray the rosary this month in honor of Holy Rosary month, you still have time! Stretch yourself and commit to a novena. For a quick how-to on praying novenas, watch this video from Catholic.org for a simple explanation. For those who already pray the rosary every day, good for you! Let's all pray for each other and the intentions of Pope Francis.
Jen Arnold a SGC member is a writer and catechist from Phoenix, AZ. She graduated with both a Master’s in Theology and a Master’s in Catechetics and Evangelization from Franciscan University in Steubenville in December 2018. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of San Francisco. As a stay-at-home mom of 5 children, and very much motivated by her love for the Lord, she is active in her home parish and beyond across a variety of ministries and has been recognized as a Volunteer of the Year for her contributions. As a homeschooling mom, she is joyful for the opportunity to continue translating the truths of the faith to children and parents alike. She writes weekly bulletin reflections and catechetical articles for Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Ahwatukee which can be found at: https://corpuschristiphx.org/blog.php. She also runs the Catholic Chaplet Channel on YouTube with her husband in order to reinvigorate Catholics’ love for traditional methods of meditative prayer. Outside of praying her rosary, you can most often find Jen hiking in the mountains, doing Pilates, and generally living out loud with her husband, 5 children, and rescue puppies.