Novena comes from the Latin word novem meaning nine. In the Catholic tradition, a novena is a public or private devotion of nine days for a specific intention. There is no formal, proper or full liturgy within the Catholic church, but the practice is permitted and recommended. There are many traditional novenas written for you to choose from.
There are four kinds of novenas: mourning, preparation, prayer and indulgenced. For many reasons, some included later, the number nine is significant, e.g. the ninth hour of Good Friday is when Jesus ‘gave up the ghost’ and the ninth hour was a special time of prayer in the synagogue.
Mourning novenas: The nine numbered days may have originated in Greek and Roman tradition of mourning with a special feast on the ninth day. Though the practice may be rooted in pagan/non-Judaic-Christian religious practices, there is historical evidence that Masses were held on the ninth day after the death of popes and cardinals.
Preparation novenas: This type of novena was common before Christmas where the number nine is symbolic of the nine months Christ was in the womb. Prayer novena: The faithful people turned to the saints for their recovery in novenas of prayer. Sts. Hubert Marcolf and Mommolus were often associated with healing.
Indulgenced novenas have been critiqued as superstitious; though, not all novenas. In total, novenas, as with all religious practices, can be abused – but are a means of obtaining special graces through the intercession of the saints.
(If you want to read more about novenas, please visit: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11141b.htm.)
My cousin, who is Catholic, first introduced me to the practice of novena. She had been dealing with an anxiety disorder. In addition to medication and counseling, she prayed novenas. She found a novena and prayed it for nine days; then, she would pray another novena for nine days. That is the cycle which I have found to be common for private novena devotion.
I have finished praying a novena for health and renewal for nine days and started praying another novena. If you would like to try praying a novena, you can find lots of novenas online if you search for “novena”. I found a site with a plethora of novenas: http://www.catholicdoors.com/prayers/novena.htm. Pick one and pray for nine days! By then, I will have given you another idea for adding prayer to your life.
May you be healed and renewed,