I have a friend who is suffering. In fact, I have three friends who are suffering. Well, let's be honest, almost everyone I know is suffering! The more I have a chance to get to know the dear souls God has deposited in my world, the more I see that the Cross really is a pervasive reality. If you have been here before, you know how I am one with Marcel (at least the Marcel of Conversations) in wishing for just about anything in life but suffering! And so, it occurred to me yesterday that I'd like to re-start our (sort of) annual triple novena. Are you game?
Fortunately, we have ten fingers (yes, yes, eight fingers and two thumbs, but for the purpose of counting, they all work like fingers), which means I can figure this out by leaving one pinky finger out. Let's see. . . If we start tomorrow, on September 6, and count up to the 14th, that's nine fingers - or days - and we'll end on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. That's good because then God can't say, "Hey, get used to suffering, and stop being such a ninny." He can't say it because instead He'll have to say, "Thank you, little ones, for acknowledging our Trinitarian Limitless Love as poured out on the Holy Cross!" Which will spur Him on to answer our prayers, don't you think?
And then, if we start again the next day, September 15, on the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, then (one moment while I count on my fingers, please), nine more fingers of days lands us on September 23rd, the feast of St. Padre Pio! Oh my heavens, there is no one ever (besides Jesus and Mary) who wanted more to alleviate suffering than our dear Padre! He even started a not-really-but-practically-a-hospital called The Home for the Relief of Suffering, funded (in its building which was a decades long process I think) by small donations - and perhaps large too - from around the world, given by his spiritual children. We are happy to call ourselves his spiritual children too, and we could sure use his help to relieve our suffering!
Finally, the great thing about Padre Pio's feast on September 23rd is that if we start novena #3 that day - just moments, perhaps, after we finish novena #2 - guess where it ends? Haha - the Feast of Feasts for little ones! No, not Christmas silly. Count with me.
September 23 (I'm starting on the thumb of my left hand), 24 (index finger), 25 (middle finger) 26 (ring finger), 27 (pinky), 28 (thumb of right hand) 29 (index finger), September 30 (middle finger and last day of September because "30 days hath September"), and then - this is where we end on the ring finger when there's only one pinky left, signifying we've counted nine fingers for nine days: OCTOBER 1st!!!!!!!
You know, the feast of St. Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, aka, the first St. Therese (Marcel being the second), the Little Flower!
And if you don't know yet, you'll find out soon that this means ROSES and answered prayers. You'll find out even if you don't join in the triple novena (though how can you resist?) because we'll include your intentions!
Watch this (I love doing prayer intentions!) -
We are very little, but we want to pray very big. We ask our guardian angels, Marcel, Padre Pio, St. Therese, and Mother Teresa (and all of heaven) to join us in begging you to bring relief and healing to all our dear ones who are suffering. Oh, and to all those who are reading this, whether or not they pray this triple novena with us, and to all those who need relief and hope. Thank You Little Jesus!
Now, the big question before a novena is always (for me at least) how little can we make our prayer so that it will actually be said? And what should it be?
Here is my suggestion for the first novena. I probably won't remember to say this prayer each day. I hope I remember to say, "Help, Jesus! Remember our novena!" and that could be my contribution, but I love this prayer so much that I'll suggest it as an option for our first novena, which starts tomorrow and ends on the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross:
An Old French Prayer for Friends
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.
* * *
Isn't that perfect?
And for prayer #2, ending on Padre Pio's feast day, again don't be shy about joining me in praying some heartfelt (or tired-before-you-drop-into-bed) prayer like, "Jesus, help! We all need You so much!" but also feel free to say this lovely prayer to Padre Pio (because then you get an added bonus from the novena - you'll see what as you read on) -
Prayer to Saint Padre Pio
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.
* * *
Even if you only read it once (you just did!) isn't that a spectacular prayer?! But now we must quickly move into the third novena prayer, the one for those days from Padre Pio's feast to St. Therese's special day. And here I give you my favorite prayer to her, or (come to think of it) two favorite prayers. The reason they're my faves is because I know them by heart, which makes them much easier for me to remember to say . . .
First, the short version, which is so fun and goofy that I thought it originated in the 1960's, but which I found (after having learned it from a dear friend who had used it since the 70's, I imagine) in a letter from Bishop Benziger of India way back in the 1920's or 30's, not long after little Sister Therese became St. Therese! Here it is:
Little Flower, in this hour, show your power!!!
(The three exclamation points are part of the prayer, in my estimation!)
Or for the longer St. Therese novena prayer (but not too long):
O Little Therese of the Child Jesus
Please pick for me a rose from the heavenly garden
and send it to me as a message of love.
O Little Flower of Jesus,
please ask God to grant the favors
I now place with confidence in your hands . . .
St. Therese, help me to always believe as you did,
in God’s great love for me,
so that I may imitate your “Little Way” each day.
* * *
Even as I write this, I can think of more friends I want to include in our triple novena . . . But I am consoled to know these intentions can be added and added until they reach all the way to heaven - especially when stacked on top of your special intentions too - and God can handle all of them, no problem. That's the great thing about even a single novena (let alone a triple one) - lots of days to remember more intentions and commend them to God, even if one's prayers are little, just like us.
And then I think also of more prayers, but littler and littler, for instance: the smile and the glance - ah, the smile and the glance, on Mother Teresa's feast day, are great prayers to remember. A dear Padre sent me this quote in her honor a few years ago on this day:
"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile."
And then (now that we're in blue and white, like Mother Teresa and her sisters, you can tell we're getting to the very beautiful part of this post!) remember not to be discouraged if you miss the opportunity for the smile and the glance at those around you. Sometimes we're tired, or hungry, or lonely, or sleepy (did I encompass that in tired? I don't think so!) - or all of the above! - and what was supposed to be a smile is a scowl . . . what we would like to have been a glance is a glare! Oops! But that's the little way - we get to start over, and then why not smile or glance at an image of Jesus or Mary, or Therese or Marcel? They understand, and if you open up Conversations, you will find that Marcel really, really understands! Or rather that Jesus really, really understands and keeps telling Marcel and us too not to worry about our weakness. It's only all the more reason for our confidence in Him! Since we're too little to be all we'd like to be, let's trust Him to carry us in His arms and bless those we love (as well as blessing us).
Now, what was that other prayer?
The smile . . .
The glance . . .
Ah, the kiss!
Let's begin our novena now, on the vigil of the day we'll really start (tomorrow), by asking Jesus for His kiss to help us be His delight and the delight of those He has put in our hearts and lives.
Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth!
Draw me, we will run!!!!!
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