Wednesday, March 10, 2010

A Novena for the Slothful and the Proud

I'm the sort of person who needs a lot of direction, or else my life will start to go to pieces and I will spend my days wandering around in a haze of confused nostalgia for the past and bemused wonder at the present, which translates into neglecting or resenting my daily responsibilities and spiraling into a funk because I can't seem to read and decipher the language of quotidian life.  A dear friend of mine, when she was a little girl, insisted on wearing drawstring dresses that tied in the back, and having them pulled as close as they could go, and on having her mary janes buckled so tightly that she still has scars on her insteps.  This is how I am spiritually.  I need my steps and my actions rigidly circumscribed, or I fall easily into a sort of mental and emotional Egyptian fleshpot.  My Lenten sacrifices are usually modified or abandoned completely by this time, and I often forget to complete my novenas.

In spite of these acknowledged deficiencies, I also , conversely, resent any order or direction imposed from the outside.  Sloth and pride vie for ascendance in me.

If you are like me, you might find the following novena to Saint Joseph to be just the ticket. 

From TAN Books:

This novena has proven to be highly efficacious. It seems to be pleasing to St. Joseph and helpful to souls. This form of novena was originally devised by the celebrated Fr. Louis Lallemant, S.J. (1587-1633). It has proved particularly effective in obtaining favors through the intercession of St. Joseph. In the Life of this saintly priest and great master of the spiritual life, to whom St. Joseph never refused anything he asked, the story is told that on one occasion he urged two young priests to make this novena, promising that they would obtain everything they asked through the intercession of St. Joseph if, in turn, they would show him special honor and spread devotion to him among others. Both did as Fr. Lallemant suggested. One of them asked for grace to speak and write worthily of Our Lord. But the next day he came to Fr. Lallemant to tell him that, upon reflection, he wished to ask for a different grace, which he considered more conducive to his perfection. Fr. Lallemant replied, “It is too late now to ask for another grace. The first one has already been granted.” This grace was conspicuously displayed throughout the whole course of the priest’s life, as he became one of the most noted preachers and writers of his day.

How to Make this Novena

No particular prayers need be said for this novena [emphasis mine -- isn't that great?]. Every day for nine days, turn to St. Joseph in spirit four times during the day and honor him in the following four points. (These “visits” may be made anywhere—at home, at work, on the street, in the car or bus—and at any time.) 

1. During the first visit, consider St. Joseph’s fidelity to grace. Reflect upon the action of the Holy Ghost in his soul. At the conclusion of this brief meditation, thank God for so honoring St. Joseph, and ask, through his intercession, for a similar grace.
2. Later in the day, consider St. Joseph’s fidelity to the interior life. Study his spirit of recollection. Think, thank God, and ask.
3. Later still, consider St. Joseph’s love for Our Lady. Think, thank God, and ask.
4. Finally, in a fourth visit, reflect upon St. Joseph’s love for the Divine Child. Think, thank God, and ask.

Saint Joseph's feast day is March 19 (a big day for Italian-Americans, who usually try to ignore Saint Patrick's Day), and his novena begins today.  If this novena delights you, as it does me, please join me in saying it.


Rebekka said...

Wow, I could completely identify myself with that description. A complete mess, infuriated by other people's meddling. Yours was much more poetic.

Pentimento said...


Maybe you should start the novena. I love the idea that St. Joseph seems to like this particular prayer.

elena maria vidal said...

This is known to be a very powerful novena. There's just something about it. I am making it and I'll add your intentions to mine, so don't worry if you get distracted and don't finish it. It's hard to focus when you have a small child running around the house, so I'll make it for you. I think St. Joseph will totally understand. He is such a father.

Enbrethiliel said...


I don't really celebrate St. Patrick's Day, either. Filipinos don't have to try to ignore it. ;)

I'm praying a "liturgical novena" with my parish (whose patron is St. Joseph), which consists of nine novena Masses in the evening. I had thought I wouldn't be able to make it this year because of my unpredictable work schedule, but St. Joseph has got me to church on time even when all hope seemed lost!

(It may be that I'm just giving him credit for a couple of lucky coincidences so far--but I've always asked St. Joseph to help me find honest, non-sleazy taxi drivers, and I can't help seeing his hand in the unusual ease with which I've been able to hail a cab from my workplace to my parish church, in the past two days.)

Emily J. said...

This reminds me of another St. Joseph prayer also guaranteed not to fail to protect those in war zones. Someone told me about it just after my husband left, but I forgot to send it on. Time to look it up . . .

Pentimento said...

Thank you SO MUCH for adding my intentions to yours, Elena. It means a lot to me, and right now I feel like I have to pray as never before.

I just love that there are no formal prayers involved, just mental visits to St. Joseph.

Emily, send the prayer here when you find it, so we can pray it, too.

mrsdarwin said...

I often forget to complete my novenas.

I have a bit of a tendency toward sloth, though I'm pretty cheerful in my slothfulness. This line describes much of my life! I love to start things, but I'm not so good at staying on task and getting them done all the way to the last fussy details. I've started many unfinished novenas in my time, and many unfinished rosaries as well. (In fact, I currently have one hanging at the third decade of the Glorious Mysteries.)

honeybee said...

Thanks so much for posting this.

I usually never do novenas because I abhor the long, sometimes overly emotionally strained and saccharine prayers.

This is something I could definitely do.

Brenda from Flatbush said...

Your description of your inner life is enormously comforting, since it perfectly describes my own. (I refer to it as my spiritual ADHD.) I don't know if I'll get through even one day of this novena, but it is a beautiful thing to try, and since it began on my dad's birthday--and he was a great St. Joseph of a one in many ways--I'll take that as an invitation to start late, on St. Patrick's Day!

Melanie B said...

Seeing this way too late to actually pray the novena. But I'd probably have done two days and then dropped it anyway. I like it, though. Maybe I'll copy it and post a reminder in my google calendar for next year.

I love the image, by the way. Michal O'Brien, no?

Pentimento said...

Melanie, you can pray this novena at any time of the year. It's always nice to try to work it into the run-up to a feast day, but I'm rarely on the ball enough for that, though I do do the Divine Mercy novena on time every year, since that one is so profoundly important to me.

I'm pretty sure that must be Michael O'Brien, but I got it off another website with no attribution . . . shhh!