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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Lost Weekend

I have not recovered from the weekend. What day is it? Is Ray Milland sleeping on the couch? I have gone to two dinner parties, had wine, and stayed up really really late with a book I can't put down. I can not get back in the groove this week. I am merely going through the motions of the groove. Happily, there is a groove. I can hold on to the sides of the groove.

Sister Mary Martha, can you fill me in on novenas? I'm saying one to Saint Anne, and am good on weekdays, but have trouble on weekends. If I skip two days, do I have to start over again? How did novenas come about anyway? Is there one for every patron saint? I bet you've talked about this before, but I couldn't find it in the archives, and frankly got tired of looking. How hard would it be for the 7th grade boys to set up a search function for the archives? 7th graders are pretty resourceful--especially if there's pizza involved!

I was hoping the 7th grade boys could set up a search function for the car keys or the TV channel changer. Some things are beyond them.

I have talked about it before. But let's start fresh today, shall we?

If I skip two days, do I have to start over again?
Yes. The whole point of a novena is that you pray for nine days straight. If you don't pray for nine days straight it is not a novena. You just prayed for seven days and then took the weekend off then started praying again.

This baffles me. Did the problem take the weekend off? Did St. Anne fly to Jamaica? Have you never heard of post it notes? Refrigerator magnets?

How did novenas come about anyway?
First, a moment to reflect on what numbers meant to people back in the day. Ten is perfect. Nine is one less than perfect. (Just ask Olga Korbut) God is perfect. Humans are not.

The word novena comes from the Latin (Roman) word for nine. Not five, and then a break, and then four more days. I'm not sure there is a Latin word for that.

After Jesus ascended into Heaven, the disciples stayed together and prayed for nine straight days. They did not take the weekend off. No one said, "I've gotta go make some calls. I'll be back in a jif." At the end of the nine days the Holy Spirit descended on them. So the nine days paid off in a big way. No one left to take the kids to soccer practice.

So novenas have been around literally since day one of the Church.

Is there one for every patron saint?
If you're talking about a little pamphlet with a nicely written prayer to say on each of the nine days, no, there is not a novena for every patron saint. Can you say a novena to any saint? Yes. You'll have to pray from your own mind, I'm guessing, for a lot of the really obscure saints.

But back to the main issue: if the problem is big enough to prompt a novena to St. Anne, how do you just forget about it for a couple of days? Baffling.

On top of which, you don't even have to pray for nine straight days. You just have to pray once a day each day! Here are some helpful tips from my prior post on novenas:

Do you look in a mirror at yourself? You could put a post it note on the mirror. Do you eat? You could put a note on a refrigerator magnet on your refrigerator. Jumpin' Jeehosaphat woman! Pin a note to your coffeepot! Stick a stick it note on the cat dish! Tie a message to the bathroom tissue! Stick a reminder on your car keys! Put a message to yourself in your underwear drawer! Leave a note in the mailbox! Tape a big message on your TV! Get one of those little tape recorders and say into it, "Note to self....say novena prayer." Put your novena prayer on your screen saver!

Poor St. Anne. She must feel like she's hanging on call waiting. "Oh, St. Anne, can you please pray for...please hold..."


Anonymous said...

Happy Feast of St. Martha!

Anonymous said...

LOL. Now I feel like should go pray a novena. Is there one for parents whose children don't want to be homeschooled? A moody 13 year old boy at that.

KimK said...

Dear Sister,
Don't worry about asking the 7th graders to install a search function -- your readers can type in a word or words to search for in the upper left corner of your blog where it says "Search blog." It searches all your posts, not just the current one.
Just delurking to share that and to say I love your blog.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, but what if I can't find the post it notes? :)

RadioPie said...

Lol I left the little novena pamphlet on my pillow, so I had to see it whenever I was about to go to sleep. It's also a nice way to end the day, I find.

Anonymous said...

This is totally off the subject, but you have some funny pictures of Teddy sometimes. You should post them on this site: http://icanhascheezburger.com/
Just don't start writing your blog in lolspeak!


Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Hey, I remember that conversation before. You wrote something like "maybe you're just not into Him?" to someone who asked a similar question.

I remembered it because I thought it was funny!

Anonymous said...

Another reason nine is such a special number (for novenas and other things): Three is very special because it represents the Holy Trinity. So back in the day, folks figured that if three is special, three times three must be even better!

Yours is one of my favorite websites, Sister. I usually look in just before bedtime so I can get a little smile and something prayerful to think about while I'm drifting off. Good night!

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister,
I have some additional questions regarding novenas. Is it ok to say them to multiple saints at the same time for the same problem? What about simultaneous novenas for different issues?

Anonymous said...

Apparently Spanish parliament is passing a law that gives monkeys human rights. Sister, does this mean we can have simian saints?

Anonymous said...

Sister, I think you are being a little hard on the would-be novena sayer. That's okay; nuns are supposed to be hard on people to keep them in line.

But do you really think St. Anne will cover her ears and say "I'm not listening anymore" if she takes the novena up again on Monday instead of starting over? Maybe in the strictest sense you couldn't call it a bona fide "novena" anymore. But I think it could be a little scrupulous to think the prayer won't be effective.

(Now I'm stuck with a funny mental image of St. Anne singing out "La la la la, I can't hear you!")

Anonymous said...

Sister, a novena-reltaed question: I remember one of my friends saying with great conviction, "I KNOW I'm going straight to heaven --I made my Nine First Fridays!" I think that she was referring to attending Mass and receiving communion on the first Friday of every month for nine months in a row. It seems like a sort of very long novena. Would you please tell us more about that devotion? Or was she just making it up?

Anonymous said...

One more try?

Hi Sister, Regarding the 7/21/08 anonymous comment: "...yesterday I came to your site to use your saint finder as I have just this month begun to have migraine headaches..." -

I can't find the saint finder in your site. What is that commenter referring to? Thanks very much.

YOU yourself are the highlight by far, though, hands down

Anonymous said...

The Saint Finder is more or less Sister's etsy shop, at http://heavenhelpus.etsy.com

She has a large assortment of jewelry based on holy medals, describing the particular patronage of each one's saint.