Good things happen when you combine the Divine Mercy Novena with Catholic meditation. In this post you can learn how to meditate on novena prayers and thus grow closer to God.
What is the Divine Mercy novena?
Jesus appeared to St. Faustina, a Polish nun, in the early 1930s. He told her that he would make her a missionary of his Divine Mercy to the world. As part of that mission, He gave her the prayers for the Divine Mercy novena, a nine-day prayer that begins on Good Friday of each year and ends on the Sunday after Easter Sunday, which Pope John Paul II named Divine Mercy Sunday.
What makes this novena unique is that Jesus himself composed it and each day a prayer can be offered for one specific group of souls such as children, priests and religious, lukewarm souls, fallen-away Catholics, and so on.
What is Catholic meditation?
Catholic meditation, or mental prayer, is a form of silent prayer. It is more contemplative than vocal prayer. It is not Eastern mysticism or any such thing; it is instead a lifting of the heart and mind to God. Many of the saints practiced it. St. Alphonsus Liguouri even said that “all the saints have become saints through mental prayer.”
In a moment we will look at how to combine mental prayer with the Divine Mercy Novena, but first here is how you do basic meditation:
1. Prepare: Place yourself in God’s presence and pray for the grace to pray.
2. Begin the meditation:
- Reflect on particular subject, some truth of God or the Faith (more on this later).
- Examine yourself in relation to this truth.
- Think of how you can improve in this aspect.
- Affections like sorrow for sin, hope in God, and love arise in your heart from considering the subject of your meditation.
- Offer petitions in your heart to God: for people in your life, for yourself, your family, your enemies, for the Church, and so on.
- Resolve to conquer your main vice or grow in a needed virtue.
3. Conclusion: Thank God for the graces He gave you
For beginners like me, ten to fifteen minutes of meditation per day is all I can handle. Some of the saints were known to meditate for hours at a time—a feat I don’t suggest you attempt immediately.
Meditating on Divine Mercy
What should you meditate on? Here are subjects for meditation to get you started: the beauty of heaven, the horror of hell, God’s omnipotence (all powerful), his omniscience (all knowing), Christ’s passion and death (think of the sorrowful mysteries of the rosary), the goodness of God, the witness of the saints, God’s indwelling presence in your soul.
When praying the Divine Mercy Novena, or any other, you can use the prayers of the novena as your topic for meditation and petition.
For example, consider the daily prayer intentions from the Novena:
- All mankind, especially sinners.
- The souls of priests and religious.
- All devout and faithful souls.
- Those who do not believe in Jesus and those who do not yet know Him.
- The souls of separated brethren.
- The meek and humble souls and the souls of children.
- The souls who especially venerate and glorify Jesus’ mercy.
- The souls who are detained in purgatory.
- The souls who have become lukewarm.
For the first day, you can meditate on the fact that Christ died for all mankind and wants sinners to come to repentance. For your petitions, you can bring to God those people you know burdened by their sins.
For the second day, bring priests and religious that you know or pray for to our Lord and lift them up in prayer. For the third day, pray for devout souls (hopefully to include yourself!) in thanksgiving and for perseverance in the faith.
For the fourth day, we all have people in our lives who do not believe in Jesus. Pray for them in a special way, that God will give them the grace to turn to Him and that they will accept this gift.
The fifth day’s intention strikes a chord with me as I used to be one of our separated brethren—in my case an Evangelical Protestant—and I have many friends who are Protestant. I pray that they will enter full communion with Christ’s Church and share in the joy and blessing of receiving Christ in the Eucharist.
For the sixth day, you can offer your petitions for little children, for humble souls and those you know who are devout. As part of your meditation you can contemplate the saints who died as children.
Now you get the idea of how the Divine Mercy Novena provides plenty of fruitful material to fuel your meditation. For each day we are also examining ourselves to see how we are following Christ: are we being humble? Have we grown lukewarm? Thus meditation provides a way of conquering our vices, especially our predominant ones, growing in virtue, remaining closer to God throughout the day, and sprinting along the track to sainthood that our Lord has prepared for us.
If you want to try out meditation with a novena, the St. Peregrine novena for cancer sufferers and those will serious illnesses just began, and in less than two weeks will begin the Our Lady of Fatima Novena on the 100th anniversary of the apparitions to the shepherd children there. And if you didn’t know, I made an app specially made for praying novenas of all sorts, all from your favorite device. Check that out here.
Please pray for me.