Two things are going to surprise a lot of you when you read this post:
1. You will find out that I actually pray. And that I have prayed novenas.
2. That the person who gave me this latest novena is Jaims. (this part is for those of us who know him) ;-)
I just finished the 4th day of the 54 days that is required for the Holy Rosary Novenas to Our Lady. It's a 54 day novena, divided into 27 days of petition and 27 days of thanksgiving (something that you should still pray whether or not your petition is granted -- for as you know, or may eventually discover, God doesn't always give us what we want but He does give us what we need).
I can't remember if Jaime gave me this novena when I was still pregnant with the twins, or after I lost them. All I can remember is that 1) I was shocked he even knew what a novena was (hahaha); 2) he says his family swears by it, and 3) that he gave me his own copy of it as soon as I expressed interest in it. Which is just the kind of friend that he is.
It has been sitting on my shelf for quite a while now, frankly, gathering dust. 54 days is a big commitment you see. 54 straight days. No skipping, no doubling back (well you could technically say 2 in one day if you happened to forget --- but where's your commitment if you did that?).
Then I realized that I have prayed a novena longer than that.
When I was trying to conceive Pilar I found the Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus in the makeshift chapel of our old UnionBank building. It was just there on an empty seat next to me. And when I read it, I really felt that it spoke to me. It gave me the words to express to God how much I wanted to have a baby. So I promised God, after I prayed the novena for the first time, that if he would bless me with a positive pregnancy test I would pray that novena every day until my baby was born.
254 (++) days later (no skipping, no doubling back --- honestly!) He gave me Pilar.
The Novena has not always worked. Or not always in the way we hoped it would. It went on to give me 2 more positive pregnancy tests after Pilar. But she remains my only child. For now.
I will be the first person to tell you --- that I am not the most religious person you will meet. I may be closer to the opposite end of the spectrum. I am a non-practicing Catholic (blame the Jesuits and too many interesting books on the ordinary origins of sacred things). But certain novenas and prayers have really touched my life. One was the Novena to the Sacred Heart, the other is this:
When I lost my twins, John's Tita Cecile did the nicest thing that anyone could have done for me --- she sent me the Novena for Mary, Undoer of Knots. And let me tell you --- that novena helped calm my heart more than anything or anyone could those first couple of months. I am eternally grateful to her for sending me that book.
So last Monday I found the courage, nay the fortitude, to start the Holy Rosary Novenas to Our Lady. Can I just share that at the end of each mystery you pray for a particular grace or virtue (eg. the virtue of resignation to the will of God)? And each every day the virtues that the novena calls for are the same virtues I myself feel like praying for. The novena makes me feel like I am speaking/praying from my heart.
With 50 more days to go, I hope I feel like this every day.
P.S. I am not afraid to share that I am praying for another baby. That if it is in God's plans for us, then I hope he blesses us with another child, hopefully another child we can conceive naturally. And if it is not His will that we have more kids, then I am also praying for acceptance of His plan, I am praying for healing, I am praying for forgiveness (from Him, my babies and from myself). I hope that whoever is reading this prays for me too. :-)
P.S.S. Anyone who wants a copy of any of the above mentioned novenas...just holler. :-)