Category: Novena Prayers

The Power of the Divine Mercy Novena

The Power of the Divine Mercy Novena

It is available in abundance to everyone if only we would embrace it.  It is an endless and unfathomable gift that flows most profusely on the Sunday after Easter.  It is the devotion of the Divine Mercy and it offers each of us a wonderful chance to begin anew through the Divine Mercy Chaplet Novena.  Begun on Good Friday and completed on Divine Mercy Sunday, this powerful novena offers us a chance to change our lives forever! It is also a powerful way to intercede for our loved ones and the entire world by bringing all before the merciful gaze of Christ.

In 1931, a young Polish nun named Sister Faustina Kowalska, saw a vision of Jesus who, with rays of mercy in the form of blood and water streaming forth from His Heart, told her to paint an image of him and sign it, “Jesus, I Trust in You!” Calling her the Secretary of His mercy, He ordered her to also begin writing a diary so others would come to know of his unfathomable mercy.  In a series of revelations that followed from 1931 through 1938, Jesus taught her about His unlimited ocean of mercy available to even the most hardened of sinners, saying “Let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be as scarlet” (Diary 699).

In her Diary, Jesus told Sr. Faustina, “I desire that during these nine days you bring souls to the fountain of My mercy, that from there they may draw strength and refreshment and whatever grace they need in the hardships of life, and especially at the hour of death” (Diary, 1209). While the Chaplet can be said anytime, the Lord specifically asked that it be recited as a novena, promising that “By this Novena (of Chaplets), I will grant every possible grace to souls” (Diary 796).

During each day of the Novena, which is prayed on Rosary beads, Jesus asked that souls be brought to his merciful heart to be immersed in his “ocean of mercy” for each of the nine days, “On each day of the novena you will bring to My heart a different group of souls and you will immerse them in this ocean of My mercy … On each day you will beg My Father, on the strength of My passion, for graces for these souls” (Diary 1209).  Specific intentions include all mankind, especially sinners; the souls of priests and religious; all devout and faithful souls; those who do not believe in God and those who do not yet know Jesus; the souls who have separated themselves from the Church; meek and humble souls and the souls of little children; the souls who especially venerate and glorify His mercy; souls detained in purgatory; and souls who have become lukewarm. It is interesting to note that Jesus saves the ninth day of the novena for “lukewarm” souls saying, “These souls wound my heart most painfully.  My soul suffered the most dreadful loathing in the Garden of Olives because of lukewarm souls.  They were the reason I cried out – ‘Father, take this cup away from me if it be your will.’ For them the last hope of salvation is to flee to My mercy (Diary 1228).  

This year’s Divine Mercy Novena is going to be even more meaningful than usual.  Two great servants of mercy, Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII, will be canonized saints on Divine Mercy Sunday.  In 1966, through the diligent efforts of then Karol Cardinal Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), the informative process for beatification of Sr. Faustina was begun. The message of mercy is now being spread throughout the world. On the Second Sunday of Easter of the Jubilee Year 2000, at the Mass for the Canonization of St. Faustina Kowalska, Pope John Paul II proclaimed to the world that “from now on throughout the Church” this Sunday will be called “Divine Mercy Sunday.” In speaking of Divine Mercy Sunday in Faustina’s Diary, Jesus said, “On that day the very depths of My tender mercy are open. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon those souls who approach the fount of My mercy” (Diary 699).  Souls perish in spite of My bitter Passion. I am giving them the last hope of salvation; that is, the Feast of My Mercy” (Diary 965).

It is important to note that there are three places in St. Faustina’s Diary that record promises from our Lord of the extraordinary graces He will make available through the devout reception of Holy Communion on this Feast Day:

 – I want to grant a complete pardon to the souls that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of My mercy(1109).

 – Whoever approaches the Fount of Life on this day will be granted complete forgiveness of sins and punishment (300).

– The soul that will go to Confession and receive Holy Communion shall obtain complete forgiveness of sins and punishment(699).

The powerful Divine Mercy Novena as ordered above by Jesus gives us the tremendous opportunity to begin again – a fresh start of “complete forgiveness of sins and punishment” that may have otherwise have been due to us in life up to that point.  So powerful is the Chaplet that Christ said, “Even if there were a sinner most hardenedif he were to recite this chaplet only oncehe would receive grace from My infinite mercy. desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy” (Diary, 687).  Through the Chaplet you will obtain everything, if what you ask for is compatible with My will” (Diary 1731)

Jesus in his unfathomable mercy gives us this grace to begin anew through his passion and death on the cross where blood and water gushed forth from His heart. This Good Friday then, let us take advantage of this powerful novena while there is still time – for the sake of our souls, the souls of our loved ones and a world deeply and desperately in need of Divine Mercy.

Five Things to Know about the Brown Scapular

Five Things to Know about the Brown Scapular

Have you ever seen a Catholic wearing something like a necklace with two small brown squares of fabric on either side? It’s called the Brown Scapular – They’re not as common today as they used to be, but wearing one is still a popular Catholic devotion. Here are five things to know about the Brown Scapular:

1. It’s the Habit of Carmelites

The Carmelites are a Catholic religious order founded in the thirteenth century on Mount Carmel to imitate the solitude and prayer of the Old Testament prophet Elijah, the Virgin Mary, and Jesus himself. Part of the Carmelite habit, i.e., clothing, is a large brown scapular, an apron-like cloth that is draped over the shoulders. During the Middle Ages, many lay Catholics wanted to follow some of the spiritual practices of the Carmelite Order and were permitted to wear this large scapular. Eventually, the much smaller brown scapular that is common today began to be used by lay people instead.

2. Its History is Uncertain

Wearing the Brown Scapular became widespread because of the story of St. Simon Stock, an early English Carmelite: It is said that the Virgin Mary appeared to him with the Carmelite Scapular and told him, “Anyone dying in this habit shall be saved.”1 Many lay people naturally wanted to wear the Carmelite habit after hearing of the vision. According to the Carmelites today, however, there are a number of reasons to doubt this story, since it seems unknown until almost 150 years after it supposedly happened.2

3. It’s Not a Good Luck Charm

Many Catholics past and present still trust that the Virgin Mary did appear to St. Simon Stock, which is certainly possible. It’s important to understand, however, that the scapular is a “sacramental” not a magic charm. Sacramentals – such as crosses, rosaries, medals, holy water, and blessings – are meant to be tangible reminders of Jesus Christ, who alone gives us eternal salvation.3 Wearing the Brown Scapular without faith in Jesus and a desire to learn from the spiritual life of the Carmelites misses its point entirely. It is perseverance in faith and love, not wearing the Brown Scapular, which saves us (Matthew 24:13).

4. It’s a Biblical Symbol

When the Old Testament prophet Elijah anointed his successor, Elisha, he placed his own cloak upon him (1 Kings 19:19). With that garment, Elisha received a “double portion” of the Spirit of Elijah and was able to perform the same miracles as his spiritual mentor (2 Kings 2:8-14). Wearing the Brown Scapular is a symbolic way to put on the garment of Elijah and of great Carmelites saints like St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, and St. Therese of Lisieux. The Carmelites see it as a reminder that “all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ” (Galatians 3:27).

5. It’s a Symbol of Mary’s Protection

Carmelites have always had a great devotion to the Virgin Mary, the first disciple of Jesus and one of the greatest models of prayer in Scripture. As Mary experienced firsthand the events of her son Jesus’ life, the Gospel says that she “kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). This prayerful contemplation of Jesus is at the heart of Carmelite spirituality, and the Brown Scapular is a symbol of a deep bond with the Blessed Virgin Mary. Carmelites both strive to imitate her example and trust that she is praying for us from heaven. Pope St. John Paul II, who wore the Brown Scapular throughout his life, summarized it this way:

Therefore two truths are evoked by the sign of the Scapular: on the one hand, the constant protection of the Blessed Virgin, not only on life’s journey, but also at the moment of passing into the fullness of eternal glory; on the other, the awareness that devotion to her cannot be limited to prayers and tributes in her honour on certain occasions, but must become a “habit”, that is, a permanent orientation of one’s own Christian conduct, woven of prayer and interior life, through frequent reception of the sacraments and the concrete practice of the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.4

15 Promises by Our Lady to those who Pray Her Rosary

15 Promises by Our Lady to those who Pray Her Rosary

The Holy Rosary is an enormous source of grace and spiritual protection, one of the most powerful sacramentals of the Catholic Church. Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the children to whom Our Lady appeared at Fatima, once said,

“There is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families … that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.”After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the Holy Rosary is the prayer most pleasing to Our Lady. In honor of the Blessed Mother, we would like to share her 15 promises to those who pray the Rosary.

Our Lady revealed the following promises to St. Dominic (the saint to whom the rosary was first given in the 12th century) and later to Blessed Alan de la Roche (who reignited devotion to the rosary in the 15th century).

Mary, in virtue of her perfect union with the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, now reigns in heaven as Queen next to her Son, Christ the King. She has been given the privilege to bestow God’s graces to her spiritual children, for whom she earnestly intercedes as the Mother of all Christians.

Although there is much suffering in this world, these promises from Our Lady ensure her assistance in the cares and worries of this life, and in interceding for us to obtain a holy death, eternal salvation, and everlasting happiness with the angels and saints in heaven.

Our Lady’s 15 Promises to Those Who Pray Her Rosary

1. Whosoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary shall receive signal graces.

[A signal grace may be a simple sign in daily life that answers a question made in prayer or points towards God’s will. For example, seeing a rose after finishing a novena to St. Therese of Lisieux could be considered a signal grace. Signal graces are often subtle or seemingly coincidental.]

2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.

3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin and defeat heresies.

4. It will cause good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for Eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means!

 5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.

6. Whosoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its Sacred Mysteries, shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of Eternal Life.

[An unprovided death means dying while not in a state of grace (that is, in dying with unconfessed mortal sin in the soul). The Blessed Mother promises that anyone who regularly prays the Rosary, and earnestly tries to live according to God’s will, will be spiritually prepared when their time of death comes.]

7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church.

[Our Lady ensures that the soul will receive sanctifying grace through the Sacraments prior to its departure from the body.]

Our Lady of the Rosary: Read her 15 Promises

8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the Light of God and the plenitude of His Graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the Merits of the Saints in Paradise.

9. I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.

10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of Glory in Heaven.

11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by recitation of the Rosary.

12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.

13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire Celestial Court during their life and at the hour of death.

14. All who recite the Rosary are my Sons, and brothers of my Only Son Jesus Christ.

15. Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

[By this the Blessed Mother means that a devotion to the Rosary is a good indication that the devotee is on the path to Heaven.]

 . . .

It is amazing to realize how much grace and heavenly help we can receive by an act so simple as praying the Rosary regularly.

It only takes 15 minutes to pray! Set aside time alone, with your family, or with some friends to start the habit of reciting a daily Rosary.

If you don’t think you have time, try praying on the way to work in the morning. You will surely notice the grace it brings to your life, as promised by Our Lady!

Our Lady's 15 Promises to Those Who Pray Her Rosary Faithfully
3 THINGS I NEVER KNEW ABOUT PRAYER

3 THINGS I NEVER KNEW ABOUT PRAYER

Despite being Christian for almost 22 years, I never liked nor knew how to pray for the better part of those two decades. I’d always think, “Why do I need to pray when God already knows everything?”

It was really only in recent years that I began to understand more about prayer.

1. I Can Pray About Everything

For a long time, I thought God would be more willing to hear and answer my prayers only when it came to “Christian” things. You know, like praying for the salvation of others, petitioning Him to help my family or friends when they’re in need, or asking Him to give me the desire to do His will, among other things.

In case you get the wrong idea, these are all very good and biblical things to ask God for—and He will surely answer! What I’m saying is that aside from these things, I didn’t think I could ask Him for “little” things—like if He could provide a cab for me when I was running late or hold the rain until I could find shelter—much less tell Him about my day.

So God had to tell me through different experiences that He does care about these things as well. He wants to hear me tell Him my needs or simply, how my day went. A few years ago, a godly couple I had come to know shared with me that they would regularly talk to Him about their day over a cup of coffee, as though they were talking to a friend. What they said reminded me of Exodus 33:11: “The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend . . .” They encouraged me to do the same because God likes to connect with me in this way, too.

A few weeks ago, God assured me of this again with a dream, in which “Psalm 18:6” came up. I didn’t know what the verse was, so I decided to look it up:

“In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From His temple He heard my voice;
my cry came before Him, into His ears.”

I’m thankful that God isn’t a God who is far away and doesn’t hear my prayers. Rather, He is a God who willhear my voice when I pray to Him. And when He does, He listens intently, for my cry goes into His ears.

The Bible also tells us to “not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6; emphasis added). When we do that, “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).

Imagine a son who talks to his father only about the “important” things, like wanting to learn the ropes in his father’s company or asking his father to help his friends out when they’re in trouble. While these are good things for the son to ask his father about, that would be quite odd, wouldn’t it? In fact, it’d likely make his father rather sad. Which father wouldn’t like to know how his son’s day went, what things his son is excited about, and what are the concerns that weigh his son down?

In the same way, as much as our Abba Father loves it when we pray about the “important” stuff, He also loves hearing from us about the “little” stuff. When we spend quality time with Him, He listens attentively to us, as a loving father listens intently to his child’s voice.

2. I Can Pray to Partner with God

I also used to think that my role in prayer was quite passive. If something is part of God’s will, I thought, He’d do it even if I don’t ask Him to, wouldn’t He? As a result, prayer felt rather redundant and boring.

However, God led me to understand that prayer is one of the main ways He uses to work out His will. I was astonished when I found out that Jesus is always interceding for us (Hebrews 7:25, Romans 8:34) and the Holy Spirit is also constantly interceding for God’s people (Romans 8:26-27). Why does the Son of God and the Spirit of God, being Persons of the Godhead, need to pray to the Father? I don’t have the answer to this question, but it made me realize that if Jesus and the Holy Spirit are praying, shouldn’t I do the same?

While it is true that God already knows everything, I’ve learned that prayer is one of the important means God has instituted for His purposes to be accomplished. In fact, He invites us to partner with Him to let His kingdom come and His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:9-10).

I now pray more actively with a sense of purpose, being fully aware that I am actually working alongside the Father to realize the plans He has. When I pray according to His will, He hears me and I have what I ask of Him (1 John 5:14-15).

3. I Can Pray to Have God Himself

Recently, I heard a pastor share a message on God’s power being made perfect in the Apostle Paul’s weaknesses. Even though Paul would have liked for God to take the thorn in his flesh away, God told the apostle that His grace would be sufficient for him (2 Corinthians 12:1-10).

As I was listening to this, a thought—that I believe was a revelation from God—formed in my spirit: “Do I want God to answer my prayer or do I want God’s answer to my prayer?”

That was a hard-hitting, soul-searching question. When I pray to God about a certain matter or need, do I want Him to answer my prayer in the exact way that I ask or do I want His answer to my prayer, regardless of what the answer may be—“Yes”, “No”, “Wait”, “I’ve something better”, or “I’ve something entirely different in mind?” Do I trust that because God knows best, His ways are better than mine? (Isaiah 55:8-9)

If I were to distill the essence of the question, it is this: When I pray, do I pray wanting God to fulfill my heart’s desires, or do I pray wanting God Himself as my heart’s desire?

There’s a wonderful perspective on prayer from Mother Teresa that captured my heart the moment I heard it. She said, “Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of Himself. Ask and seek and your heart will grow big enough to receive Him and keep Him as your own.”

I’ve seen that a way for me to start caring for things I didn’t initially care about—but I know I should—is to pray about them. Because when I do, I find myself beginning to be more aligned with God’s heart on the matter. This happened when I started praying for Singapore, and again when I prayed for my cell group. The more I prayed, the more my heart’s burden and love for my country and my cell group grew.

I know now that prayer is something God can use to enlarge my heart until it can contain more and more of His heart. Ultimately, I’ve learned that the purpose of prayer is for God to keep breaking my heart for what breaks His, so that more of God can come in. Prayer is about having more of God and less of me, so that He becomes greater and I become less (John 3:30).

Prayer can be generally understood as talking to God. I’m so thankful that my Heavenly Father welcomes me to go to Him like a little child and tell Him my needs and concerns as well as my joys and passions. He lovingly listens to my voice and cares about what’s in my heart.

But as His son, what excites me even more is that my Father invites me to know His heart and to care about what He cares about. Nothing brings me more satisfaction and gladness than knowing that my Father is willing to confide in me what His concerns are (Amos 3:7) and that He invites me to work alongside Him to accomplish His purposes (Mark 16:20).

To me, that is what becoming a son of Abba Father is—to share Daddy’s burdens and to have a part in what He’s working on, and in so doing, to become more and more like my Daddy (2 Corinthians 3:18).

That, to me, is the heart of sonship—and the heart of prayer.