November 6, 2009

Make No Copies of This Novena

One of the little jobs around the church is to occasionally throw away the self-perpetuating novena prayers that show up in the pews or by the vigil lights. They are usually pieces of paper with detailed instructions on exactly how to pray to some saint or other, and often guarantee the granting of one's intentions if the conditions are fulfilled. The reader is instructed to make a certain amount of copies of the same paper, and to leave them in so many churches. The number is usually a nice theological amount like three or seven. The one circulating in our church right now guarantees the favorable intercession of St. Martha, and demands that nine copies be made and left in nine churches.

Of course one cannot expect to have one's prayer heard without following the precise instructions regarding copying and distribution. Therefore, it's easy to see how these viral novenas (apart from being superstitious) could use up an immense amount of paper.

In order to witness against this superstitious waste of paper, I am thinking of starting my own self-replicating novena to St. Francis. Instead of making copies of the paper and leaving them in churches, it will instruct the pray-er to seek an opportunity in the course of his or her life to save some paper by avoiding an unnecessary instance of photocopying, using both sides, etc. Then, the same sheet may be left in another church, without copying it.

Follow this link for a draft. Feel free to print and use, but only once.


Br. Vito Martinez said...

I love it!

Now can you make a Novena that requires people to put their dishes in the dishwasher, pick up their cans of soda, and to put the car keys back when they're done? It would help me a lot here in Novitiate.

Peace and I love your blog.

Brother Charles said...

Good to meet you, brother! Peace and all good to the brothers at the novitiate! (Which I still have to visit one of these days.)

for narnia said...

great post, Fr. C!
what you describe is similar to these e-mails that go around-recipients of these e-mail prayers are required to read the prayer, make a prayer request and then send it on to a certain number of people depending on how fast you want your prayer answered; for example: something like 12 people would get your prayer answered in just hours or by a certain time; and sending it to less people would take longer-a day or two or three, etc... (personally, i always delete these e-mails) (at least paper isn't being wasted, though! :) anyway, we all know that prayer is answered in God's timing. PEACE! ~tara t~

NCSue said...

As a convert to the Catholic faith, I must say it was t"never fail novenas" were one of the things that made me (make me) uncomfortable. I can't distinguish between that and a magic incantation.m

Qualis Rex said...

Father Charles - are you serious?? Chain-Novenas??? I had no idea. That is as scandalous as it is blasphemous. It's good that people get called to prayer, but bad if they think it is like some pagan formulaic incantation. This is really sad. I am so sheltered.