A Novena For Asthma Sufferers

St. Bernadette Soubirous contracted cholera as a child and afterwards suffered from asthma for the rest of her life. It almost certainly contributed to her death. Thus, St. Bernadette is a good choice as the patron saint of those suffering from asthma and other diseases of the lung.

A recent medical crisis prompted me to write the following Novena for Asthmatics, and I thought I’d share it. I don’t tend to like fussy novenas, so this one is short and sweet. Add as many thees and thous and Memorares as you see fit. bernadette4

A Novena to St. Bernadette For Asthma and Other Respiratory Ailments

St. Bernadette, you felt the struggle to breathe throughout your short life, and thus know the suffering of those who have asthma and other diseases of the lung. Our Lady gave you the gift of a vision, and from that vision burst a spring of healing water that washed away the pain of thousands. Please join us in prayer to the Blessed Mother and her Son, to bring healing and comfort to [N], so that [she/he] may breathe freely again. We ask this through the immaculate heart of the Virgin Mary, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

Our Father
Hail Mary
Glory Be

A Novena to Saint Edith Stein

Saint_Edith_SteinOn August 9th, 1942, Edith Stein (St. Theresa Benedicta of the Cross) was gassed to death at Auschwitz along with perhaps a thousand others. This brilliant and holy woman, a Carmelite nun and convert from Judaism, was one of many Hebrew Catholics rounded up by the Nazis after the Dutch bishops protested the racist policies of Germany. Pope Pius XII had prepared a similar condemnation, but fearful that it would lead to an even larger loss of life in all areas under German control, he decided against issuing it.

I just completed this novena to St. Edith, recommended to me by Damien Fisher, and it’s powerful stuff. It follows the course of St. Edith’s journey in stark and moving detail, from her capture to her death

When we discovered the scope and scale of the Holocaust, civilization said “never again.” We didn’t reckon on those people who prowl the world outside of civilization, seeking to drag us all back into bloody barbarism. We should have known the proper response to genocide, but “never again” became, “well, maybe sometimes, as long as they’re just Christians or Africans.”

The life and death of St. Edith Stein is a witness to why that attitude must be cut from the human heart. Her novena is a prayer for our time, and as history shows us, it will, tragically, be a prayer for all times.

The 54-Day Rosary Novena

If you just want the text of the devotion without my commentary, go here.

I have little patience for “never-fail” devotions. In fact, I think they’re superstitious and presumptuous, and thus deeply offensive. God is not a gumball machine and prayer is not the coin you turn in the slot to make your desire come true. Prayer doesn’t work that way.

Madonna in Prayer by Sassoferrato, c.1640

On the other hand, a deep and consistent devotion is a pleasure to God, because the practice means you have made a commitment and are using many of His gifts–faith, hope, charity, patience, temperance, etc–to fight off many temptations in order to complete the devotion. A novena, for example, is a spiritual exercise regime in which you commit to doing something every day for a set number of days. That commitment requires grace, and grace is its fruit as well.

A little over a year ago we were up against the wall and it looked like our financial world was going to collapse. I stumbled upon a devotion called “The 54-Day Rosary Novena.” There were all kinds of miraculous promises attached to it, and it was couched in the kind of cloying language and imagery that developed in the 19th century and clings to the faith like a dank funk. I prayed it anyway.

Was my intention fulfilled in a miraculous way? I would say so, yes. Quite amazingly and suddenly, actually.

Does that mean this is a “never-fail novena”?

No! But it is a powerful devotion, and for people who are in dire straits and need to reach for the big guns, 54 days straight of a rosary offered for a single intention–27 days in petition, 27 in thanksgiving–is good medicine.

The problem is that the original novena that’s floating around out there appears to have been written by a teenage girl a hundred years ago in the sickly sweet manner of Marian devotions from days gone by. It includes lines like, “At thy feet I kneel to offer thee a — Crown of Roses! — snow-white buds to remind the of thy joys” &c &c, you get the gist.

I’m sorry, but I have a hard time believing the Blessed Mother–the Queen of Heaven, the Theotokos, the New Eve–demands that we speak to her in the voice of Madeline Bassett. A lot of this is just twee French piety that seeped into the culture a couple hundred years ago and rendered the bold and vigorous lines of the faith as limp and fuzzy as a Precious Moments figure.

To heck with that. I’ve decided to start saying a new 54 Day Rosary Novena for a new intention, but can’t bring myself to use the standard text.

There’s nothing “magical” about the traditional text. It’s not inspired or revealed. The devotion itself derives from the Marian vision known as Our Lady of Pompeii. A young girl, Fortuna Agrelli, had a vision of the Virgin in which the Blessed Mother said “Whoever desires to obtain favors from Me should make three novenas of the prayers of the Rosary, and three novenas in thanksgiving.”

That was it. No mention of, “And make sure you add a lot of sugary text as well as every prayer you know.”

So, I’ve retained the form and simplified the text for those who like a guideline. Honestly, though: create your own 54-Day Rosary Novena if you like. Devotions aren’t doctrinal or dogmatic: they arise from the faithful.

The 54-Day Rosary Novena

The 54-Day Rosary Novena was developed before the addition of the Luminous Mysteries, but you can do it either with or without them.

Whatever the case, ignore the normal schedule of mysteries and start with the Joyful Mysteries, then proceed through Luminous, Sorrowful, Glorious, and repeat for 27 days of Petition and 27 days of Thanksgiving. Say a Rosary the way you normally say a Rosary, with any addition prayers or meditations you like: just add the Petition and Thanksgiving prayers.

It does not matter if your petition has not been granted within the first 27 days: proceed to the Thanksgiving cycle anyway.

How to pray:

Sign of the Cross

Apostles Creed

I believe in God,
the Father almighty,
Creator of heaven and earth,
and in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died and was buried;
he descended into hell;
on the third day he rose again from the dead;
he ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty;
from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and life everlasting. Amen

Our Father 

Hail Mary (x3)

Announce the First Mystery

Joyful

Luminous

Sorrowful

Glorious

Our Father

Hail Mary (x10)

Glory Be

Continue to Mysteries 2-5

Hail Holy Queen

Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve;
to thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this vale of tears.

Turn then, most gracious advocate,
thine eyes of mercy toward us;
and after this our exile,
show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Fatima Prayer

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those most in need of Thy mercy. Amen.

Petition Prayer (27 Days): Blessed Mother, hear my plea and bring it before the throne of your Son, my Lord, Jesus Christ. Please look with favor on this devotion, and grant me [say your intention here.] I ask these things of you, my Mother, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thanksgiving Prayer (27 Days): Blessed Mother, thank you for hearing my prayer and interceding on my behalf. Mary, Mother of my Soul, be with me all my days, and accept my humble thanks for your many gifts, which I accept in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.