Nine days from now, by the grace of God, the Capuchin postulants will be novices. For some time now, we have been praying for a safe and joyous journey from Kansas to California. We ask God and our sisters and brothers for travelling mercies on the way, and we hope to be a blessing to the people we will encounter.
One of the devotional practices in the Roman Catholic Church, called a novena, is to recite a prayer or series of prayers for nine days. Novenas are dedicated to saints and can be recited in advance of a feast day; for instance, Capuchins say a novena in honor of Francis of Assisi in the run-up to his feast on Oct. 4. Novenas can also be prayers of petition; those who say particular novenas seek specific favors from God. There are numerous novenas formally recognized for public prayer in the Catholic Church, and innumerable novenas used informally for private devotion.
What follows is my poor attempt at an abbreviated novena prayer for my Capuchin brothers on the cusp of our novitiate. Its language is not churchy or fancy, but it speaks out of depths of my soul, and maybe it speaks for my postulant brothers, too.
Novena for Capuchin Novitiate 2012-13
Spirit of God, in the name of Jesus Christ we call on You,
God of Abraham and Sarah, God of Moses and Miriam,
God of the prophets, God of the apostles,
God of Francis and Clare and all the saints.
Most high, glorious God,
enlighten the darkness of my heart
and give me true faith,
and perfect charity,
with sense and knowledge, Lord,
that I may carry out
your holy and true command.
Good and gracious God,
You are the Most High who dwells among us;
You are the Holy One who goes before us.
You are where our going is going to;
You are making us who we are.
Hear the prayers of your children;
hear the prayers of Francis' little brothers.
Bless our journey into fraternity;
grace our steps into minority;
illuminate our path into contemplation;
strengthen our bodies for service;
encourage us to walk the peaceful road of righteousness.
Lord of the pilgrimage, protect us on our travels.
Guard our coming and going; guard our souls.
Be with us in the people who host us;
be in us that we may be Good Samaritans to those we meet in need.
Let nothing keep us from our destination;
let everything conspire to achieve your holy work and our realization of it.
As we begin again our formation,
help us live joyfully into the new creation, the life of resurrection.
Help us remember we are the clay,
You are the potter.
Make of us what you will.
Most of all, make of us true brothers of Francis,
brothers of Christ,
brothers to the world.
With trusting hearts,
bursting with treasures
stored in the kin(g)dom of heaven;
with pondering hearts,
like Mary whose Yes and Amen
fires our faith;
with longing hearts,
aflame with passion
like Francis and Clare
for a world transformed
by the poor and humble Christ,
we make our petitions to You,
God forever and ever. Amen.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand,
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.