Redemptorist, Baclaran, Philippines
Novena is the main attraction of the shrine to the thousands of devotees. Novena is the traditional and popular prayer that the thousands of devotees recite and sing together every Wednesday. A novena is a series of prayers said over nine days or nine weeks consecutively, usually in preparation for a major feast or to ask for a special favor.
Every Wednesday, the commentator announces the number of letters of petition and thanksgiving received for the past week. A chosen thanksgiving letter of the week is also read. These letters are proof of the devotees' faith and gratitude for the perpetual help and hope that Jesus has bestowed upon them through the intercession of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
Perpetual Novena: a special form of devotion
What, then is so special about a perpetual novena and how is it different from an ordinary novena? It is common knowledge that the word "novena" is connected with the number nine just as triduum is connected with the number three. Its origin may even be traced to the nine days spent by the apostles in prayer together with Our Lady after the Ascension and before the coming of the Holy Spirit on the tenth day of Pentecost.
HOW TO MAKE A NOVENA
No fixed rules need be laid down, generally speaking, for the making of a novena beyond that of persevering in prayer through the space of nine days. The efficacy of the novena prayers depends in great measure on the piety and devotion of the individual.
The Solemn Novena in honor of our Mother of Perpetual Help consists of nine successive days of public prayer at a novena church or shrine, usually before some great feast of our Lady, such as the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
The Perpetual Novena is so called because the public novena services are held on a specified day each week, such as Wednesday, and continue all through the year. Thus a novena of Wednesdays can be begun or concluded at any time during the year. A Private Novena can be undertaken by a family or an individual at any time.
The following suggestions will increase the fervor of your novena prayers:
1. Participate, if possible , in the public novena services, since there is added efficacy in the union of the faithful at prayer.
2. Receive the sacraments of Reconciliation and Holy Communion during your novena.
3. Promise our Lady an act of public gratitude, should your petition be granted; have holy Mass celebrated in thanksgiving; make your favor public for the encouragement of others; spread devotion to Mary.
4. Invite others to join in the novena services.
In today's religious parlance, a novena is a series of prayers said over nine days or nine weeks consecutively, usually in preparation for a major feast or to ask for a special favor. The ordinary novena stops after the nine occasions until resumed the next time around, often the following year when connected with feasts, or whenever a devotee decides to resume it privately.
A perpetual novena, on the other hand, is a series of nine occasions of prayer but repeated continuously. When one series is finished, it begins again. In practice it becomes an unending series of weekly sessions, usually associated with a particular day of the week, not necessarily Wednesday.