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Kate Moreland reviews a resource for novena veterans and newbies alike, new from Ascension Press.

Like John-Paul and Annie Deddens, co-authors of the book, Pocket Guide to Novenas, I also spent much time after college kneeling down in front of Our Lord praying for my future spouse. Like Annie, I also prayed the Saint Anne Novena, among others. And, like her, I truly believe that those prayers are what allowed me to meet my husband, although it took much longer for me to meet my husband than it did for her; he was a year behind me and a thousand miles away. However, I now know that when I was praying those novenas for him, he was making the fateful decision about whether or not his faith would become his life, or his social activity on Sundays. Thankfully for both of us, he chose well and is an incredibly holy man now, not in small part to the prayers on my behalf from Saints Anne and Monica, who patiently endured an inordinate number of novenas from my youthful self.  




The Deddens’ Pocket Guide to Novenas includes a very broad range of prayers: some that are specific to certain times of year and feast days; novenas for mourning; novenas for indulgences; and even novenas for specific intentions. Yes, both Saints Jude and Rita are included for those impossible requests we all have upon occasion. Mother Teresa’s Flying Novena also graces the pages for those times when a nine day wait for an answer is eight days too long.   

For those not familiar with novenas, the explanations and FAQ succinctly and clearly explain the whys and wherefores.  Each novena is preceded by a page of history about the saint involved so that the reader can make a good choice. After all, not every friend is best for every need, and the saints are no exception. They are all our friends, but some are more suited to certain tasks than others. The brief history of each novena, as well as the introductory explanation for the prayers, makes choosing a novena simple even for a first-time experience.   

Whether you are a novena veteran like myself, or new to the concept of these little prayers, the Pocket Guide to Novenas will be a useful companion in your prayer life. I wish I had something to criticize about this little booklet but, unfortunately, the only criticism I have is that the Deddens wrote it so well there is nothing for my “cons” paragraph. If you only had one source of novenas, this book would be enough; it is not everything about novenas, but it is everything one needs to pray them well and faithfully. If you like novenas, or are interested in trying them out, I very much recommend this Pocket Guide as an invaluable resource. 

Ask for Pocket Guide to Novenas at your local Catholic bookseller, or order online from Amazon.com or the publisher, Ascension Press.



Copyright 2023 Kate Moreland
Images: Canva