How can the cross be sweet?
It is because You were on it, my Lord!
Blessed Mother of those whose names you can read in my heart, watch over them with every care. Make their way easy and their labors fruitful. Dry their tears if they weep; sanctify their joys; raise their courage if they weaken; restore their hope if they lose heart, their health if they be ill, truth if they err, and repentance if they fall. Amen.
Much to my amazement, we've done it! We've completed phase one of our triple novena, which expression (completing phase one) makes it sound like a building project, but in a way, so it is.
I can't tell you how delighted I am to be hearing from people every day that they have one way or another stumbled upon or seen our triple novena and are thrilled to participate. I think I know why - why they're thrilled, at least - and it's because we all so desperately need prayer. We need to have the opportunity to pray, and we need to know others are praying for us. And then there are these great feasts, and how could it not be God's intention that we link them together in this way. He's the one who placed them roughly 9 days apart! So we are building something - we're building a house of love. Okay, in a way it already has existed for centuries, call it the Church, call it the Mystical Body, but I love the way St. Peter and St. Paul both make us feel the immediacy of our participation.
St. Peter says in the second chapter of his first letter:
"Come to Him, to that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious; and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture:
'Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious,
and he who believes in Him will not be put to shame.'
To you therefore who believe, He is precious . . . "
And St. Paul says, equally wonderfully, in the second chapter of his glorious letter to the Ephesians:
"So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in Whom you also are built into it for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit."
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In order to keep us on track, then (and if you're just joining us or jumped in somewhere after the first post, this will be a nice refresher - or even if you started at the beginning but are wondering, as a friend asked me today, "Now which two of the three novenas cross over?") let's review the terms of our deal.
We said a novena that began on September 6 and ends today, on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. We've been praying to Our Lady in the words of the beautiful "Old French Prayer for Friends" posted above.
Tomorrow, we begin our second novena (of three back to back), which will go from September 15, feast of Our Lady of Sorrows (hidden behind the Sunday) to the 23rd of September, feast of our dear friend and father, Padre Pio.
Here is the prayer we have planned (but feel free to substitute your own, and the shorter, sometimes the better! So "Jesus, help!" will work, or "St. Padre Pio, pray for us!") for the next nine days, starting tomorrow (but practicing now won't hurt, if you're just giving it a trial run) -
O Blessed Padre Pio,
holy bearer of the wounds of Christ,
accept us this day as your spiritual sons and daughters
and keep us always on the Little Way by your intercession.
And do thou, O our Spiritual Father,
relieve our suffering and the suffering of those we love, and then
stay there at the Gates of Heaven, as you promised,
until all of your spiritual children have entered through,
even and including us and all those we love.
Through Christ our Lord, Amen.
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Finally, not to confuse you needlessly but just to give you a head's up, on Padre Pio's day when we finish his novena, we'll dive straight into our 3rd novena, which leads into (....drum roll please......) THE FEAST OF ST. THERESE of Lisieux, the Little Flower, on October 1st. Hooray! Roses for everybody!!!
But before we get carried away, let's start tomorrow on phase two of our project to save the whole world. And yes, that means it's going to be a really, really big spiritual edifice we're building, because after all, it needs to be roomy enough to include all those we love, and our enemies too!
If I don't manage to get up a new post tomorrow to start the middle of our triple novena with a splash, let this count for your reminder, and above all - have fun! I don't think all novenas should be serious and solemn and so long that they exclude little souls like ours with attention spans the size of a gnat's (though come to think of it, those pesky gnats sometimes do have an awfully impressive one track mind as expressed by their persistence in simply hanging around your face no matter how many times you wave them away)!
Remember our mottoes: It's a perfect little novena if you miss a day! Failure is the new success! Our weakness is the perfect stage for His power! And . . . Oh darling Jesus who loved us so much that You suffered for us and changed the cross into our hope:
Draw us, we will run!!!
p.s. What if you've missed the whole first novena? What if you said some of it and then forgot? What if you're reading this now but don't think you can remember to say a single one of these prayers ever again in your whole life??????? Well hey, that's the beauty of our Little Way Triple Novena - if you are reading this, you are IN and we have you covered! After all, Our Lady is Mother to us all, Jesus died to save us all, Padre Pio is hankering to be the spiritual father or every one of us, and St. Therese - well don't even get me started on the Heavenly Mission of St. Therese and her little brother Marcel. We'll talk about that later, and meanwhile, relax because their confidence is enough to make up for our lack thereof, and you can be sure MIRACLES ARE IN THE WORKS for all those people in your life (including you) who need them. Ah, that is a happy thought!!!
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