by Shelly Bole, Director of Catechesis
Beginning September 11, 2016, Bishop Michael Duca invites everyone in the diocese to join in praying a Novena for Peace. Our world has become increasingly violent in both actions and words which has left many feeling vulnerable, frightened or angry. After the events in Dallas and Baton Rouge there was a large cry for non-violence and peace. However, the desire for peace doesn’t feel as urgent when there are no events which can catapult us into crisis mode.
As Catholics we believe that prayer is perpetual and ongoing. We also believe that prayer is not a magic formula, but an opening of ourselves to God in order to increase faith and grow in love of God and neighbor. Prayer encourages transformation by growing in virtues and holiness.
The Novena for Peace is grounded in the famous prayer of St Francis of Assisi, “Lord Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace.” Each day is a reflection on a stanza from the original prayer. You will notice that the reflections are not so much about changing others, but about a personal transformation which helps us to be agents of peace to the larger community.
What is a Novena?
A novena is nine days of prayer/devotion with a specific intention in mind. This devotion originated in the nine days Mary and the Disciples were in the Upper Room between Ascension and Pentecost.
How to Pray a Novena
When you begin a novena, have a clear idea of the intention and keep it focused in the center of your thoughts throughout the novena period, even when you are not actively praying. Choose a time of day to recite the prayer. Having a designated specific time every day increases the discipline of praying and can be a little sacrifice. Recite the designated prayer for that day, reflecting on the specific intention. Reflect on the intention even when you are not actively reciting the prayer. Some distraction is expected; try to minimize it as much as possible.
What are the benefits of a Novena?
The spiritual benefits of this devotion are many in number. First, it is a means for praising God. Second, the structure provides a unique channel to express spiritual wants, needs or sentiments. Third, when spoken as a Church family (as we are asking of the members of our diocese), it strengthens the connection between the individual and the larger Catholic community.
When do we begin?
As a diocese we will begin on September 11, 2016, when the novena will begin at all the celebrated Masses. The date of September 11 makes this devotion even more significant. Each day pray the appropriate reflection. You can do this as a family, in your classrooms, at parish meetings, at daily Mass. Pick a time and stick with it. Remember, there are blessings in little acts of sacrifice. We are praying for peace within in our world. Peace begins first within each of us with a shift in attitude or awareness which in turn affects those with whom we interact.
Please join us September 11-19 in praying for peace.
PRAYERS FOR PEACE
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace…
Day 1: Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Jesus, Prince of Peace, when politics tempt me to hate the other side, when fear causes me to judge others, when my thoughts walk the paths of anger’s edge: teach me to love as You have loved me.
Day 2: Where there is injury, let me sow pardon. Jesus, Word Made Flesh, when words cut sharp as knives, when idle gossip tears apart, when carelessness wounds: teach me to pardon and heal as You have healed and pardoned me.
Day 3: Where there is doubt, let me sow faith. Jesus, Alpha and Omega, when the fog of doubt causes skepticism, when media creates suspicion, when questions lead to uncertainty, help me to see with eyes of faith and speak Your words of promise.
Day 4: Where there is despair, let me sow hope. Jesus, the Resurrection and the Life, teach me to hope when I’m unsure of many things, to trust when I want so much to give up, to believe when I’m confused and lost in doubt, and teach me to share Your truth and my hope in You with those who struggle or have none.
Day 5: Where there is darkness, let me sow light. Jesus, Light of the World, teach me to trust in Your light when I cannot find it, to walk by Your light when the shadows beckon, to stand firm in Your light when darkness threatens and to share Your light and its warmth with all who seek it.
Day 6: Where there is sadness, let me sow joy. Jesus, Balm of Gilead, lighten my heart with the gifts of Your Spirit, touch my heart’s ache with the peace of Your presence, lift my heart’s burdens and free me to share the gift of Your joy, the joy of Your grace.
Day 7: Grant that I may be a source of consolation, understanding and love. Jesus, Son of the Living God, open my eyes that I might see and then respond to other’s burdens. When I do not understand, put a guard over my mouth so that I may not demonize or dismiss others, help me to love as You have loved me.
DAY 8: For it is in giving that we receive. Jesus, Giver of All Good Gifts, teach me to openly and freely accept what you give and what others offer me. May these make me genuine in faith and hope, sincere in charity and bountiful in generosity. Grant me the grace to give as You give.
DAY 9: It is in pardoning that we are pardoned. Jesus, Mercy of God, You count no sin against those who freely and honestly forgive. Help me to grow each day in the awareness that only in pardoning can life grow in me and in the world. Forgive me, have mercy on me and save me.
Refrain for each day to end the prayer of the novena:
O my Lord Jesus, strengthen me to die to myself and live only for You and for my neighbor.