Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Novena of Grace





TO ST. FRANCIS XAVIER of THE SOCIETY OF JESUS

March 4 - 12

INTRODUCTION

The Novena of Grace is a nine-day prayer sequence that has been popular since Francis was canonized in 1622. The traditional days for this novena are March 4-12, but it can be prayed at any time, for any intention you might have. It can be prayed alone, or with your family, or in a church in the company of others.

DAILY SEQUENCE

Take a moment in quiet to put yourself in God’s presence and to think of your particular intention for this novena.

Read the biographical section and the questions for reflection for each day.

Spend some quiet time meditating on the reading or how you have responded to the questions.

Pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be to the Father.

Close with the following prayer:

O most kind and loving saint, in union with you I adore the Divine Majesty. The remembrance of the favors with which God blessed you during life, and of your glory after death, fills me with joy; and I unite with you in offering to God my humble tribute of thanksgiving and of praise.

I implore of you to secure for me, through your powerful intercession and the all important blessing of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beseech you to obtain the favor I ask in this Novena (here ask the favor you wish to obtain), but if what I ask is not for the glory of God or for the good of my soul, obtain for me what is most conducive to both. Amen

DAY ONE

Francis is born into a rich family

Francis was born in 1506, into an aristocratic family. When he was 19, he went to Paris to study, to help the family fortune by becoming a cleric. By his own account, he was more interested in the parties than in studies.

Reflection: How has my family and my upbringing influenced my life and my choices?

DAY TWO

Francis meets Ignatius Loyola

Ignatius was twice as old as Francis, and saw potential in the young man from his part of the country. It took 5 years of each man getting to know the other, but finally Francis let Ignatius direct him in the Spiritual Exercises and his life was changed forever. He decided to give his life to serving God.

Reflection: Who has been influential in my life? Have I ever examined my life and my goals in quiet prayer? What role does God play in my life today?

DAY THREE

Francis and the First Companions are ordained

Ignatius and Francis gathered around them a group of young men with whom they prayed and planned for the future. They decided to be ordained and to go to Rome to offer themselves at the service of the Pope. Eventually they decided to form a religious order, the Society of Jesus.

Reflection: Who are my companions? Do I ever share spiritual desires with my friends, or invite them to share theirs with me? Is my faith a part of my character that I share with others? Am I willing to ask for help – from others, and from God?

DAY FOUR

Francis is secretary to Ignatius

When he joined with Ignatius and the other companions, their idea was “to do great things for God.” Others were sent to councils and to deal with Kings and princes. Ignatius asked Francis if he would stay with him in Rome and help deal with the management of the new religious order. For someone who wanted to “go forth,” this must have been a difficult assignment.

Reflection: How do I react when asked to do something I don’t want to do? How do I deal with difficult challenges in my life? Where is God in my decision-making?

DAY FIVE

Francis is sent to India

At the last moment, Francis took the place of another Jesuit who had fallen ill. With no preparation or even a chance to pack, he left to spread God’s word in foreign places. He never returned to Rome or saw Ignatius again.

Reflection: Am I ready if God calls me for a special mission? Am I listening for God’s voice in my life? Does prayer appear on my schedule every day?

DAY SIX

Francis baptizes thousands

Francis worked tirelessly wherever he went, and he traveled throughout the lands of India and Japan for many years. Everywhere he went he taught and preached and above all, baptized. Although he was often alone and sometimes became discouraged, he was always cheerful and energetic in his work.

Reflection: How do I react when things are difficult? Do I easily get discouraged? Am I open to new challenges in my life? What really excites me?

DAY SEVEN

Francis goes to Japan

Always looking for new souls to save, Francis managed to spend almost three years working in Japan. He learned Japanese customs so he could better explain the beliefs of Christianity.

Reflection: Am I open to learning new ways of doing things? Do I assume that “my ways” are automatically better? Am I willing to try to explain my faith to others?

DAY EIGHT

Francis preaches by his life

When Francis went to Japan, he had a translator but he was limited by not being able to speak the language. But he soon started to make many converts, because they were impressed that the way he lived his life so closely reflected what he preached.

Reflection: What do people learn about me from the way I live? Am I embarrassed at sharing my faith in public? Do I live what I say I believe?

DAY NINE

Francis dies overseas

Francis did not know that Ignatius had sent for him to come home; the letter arrived after he died. Legend has it that he died on the beach, looking across the ocean at China, the land he never reached.

Reflection: How do I imagine my death? What can I learn about my life by reflecting on the life of Francis Xavier? How do I want to be remembered?

Questions to ask myself each day:

What have I done for Christ?

What am I doing for Christ?

What will I do for Christ?

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