Imagine a group of people, men and women, who have lost a definite sense of direction. They are very uncertain about what the future holds. Their guide, their leader has disappeared and they feel his absence, they wonder what to do. Before he went he told them to pray, and so that is what they do. Behind closed doors they gather in their group and pray. They pray in their different ways, they support one another in prayer, they encourage in the difficult days.
You may well recognise the story. After the Ascension of the Lord, has disciples gathered, with Mary, behind closed doors and prayed. The story is told in the Bible – Acts 1.12-14. The disciples with Mary prayed for nine days. Then, at the end of the nine days they received new strength, they were renewed in God’s love – the Holy Spirit gave them new heart and courage.
The custom of nine days of prayer began with Mary and the disciples, and continues in the Church today. It is usually called a ‘Novena’ – a word simply meaning nine days. Sometimes there are Novenas for a particular cause or leading up to a particular feast. Sometimes they are organised by churches, sometimes individuals pray a private novena.
On August 6th you are invited to join with the people of St Chrysostom’s in a prayer novena. A special time of prayer for nine days before the feast of the Assumption of Mary into heaven on August 15th.
This novena is simply an encouragement to one another to pray in the nine days, pray for our needs, for others, for our church and for the future. It is a time also to be thankful for what we have and see around us.
People can take part in whatever way they wish. Between August 6th and August 14th inclusive on our Facebook Page there will be prayers and words to help us pray. We are helping people by having prayers each morning at 9.30am led by different members of our church and based on a scene from the life of Jesus or Mary, and using a ‘decade’ of the rosary. This lasts about 7-10 minutes. At 5pm there will be Vespers each day, and at 9pm there will be prayers and a short thought for the evening, again given by different St Chrysostom’s people.
We can join in as much as we choose. We may choose to do it differently, of course – simply ‘dipping in and out’ as we wish, or maybe doing something as simple as praying the Lord’s Prayer slowly and quietly morning and evening in the nine days.
This prayer will regularly be prayed during the Novena, and you may like to us it too:
Blessed God, Holy One,
We come before you in worship and peace.
We pray for ourselves, and for the whole world,
(Pause as in silence we name our needs)
We pray for the poor, the afflicted and the mentally ill,
The desolate and the deprived of our world.
Grant us your guidance, comfort and strength.
Blessed are you, O God, now and for ever. Amen
Whatever we choose we can be encouraged that others are praying with you and for you.