This year the Novena is being conducted in St Matthew’s by the Redemptorist Fathers. It is a type of nine day Retreat that we have every year from 4th to 12th March. Those who conduct the Novena celebrate Mass and preach a sermon at 10am and 7.30pm Masses.
There is also an encouragement to go to Confession during the Novena. Many people like to use this opportunity to reflect on their lives as part of their Lenten preparation to renew their commitment to following Christ and renewing their Baptismal Vows at Easter.
The Novena originated in India where St Francis Xavier had been sent as a missionary by St Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. At St Francis’s intercession an Indian boy, crippled from birth was healed, and as a result St Francis Xavier was canonised on 12th March 1622.
The Novena first came to Dublin in 1712, and older people tell us that for many years, so popular was the belief in St Francis’s intercession (and doubtless the fear of hell), streams of people couldn’t get into the over-packed Jesuit Church in Gardener Street till other Churches began to run the Novena.
Many people who attend offer the Novena for a particular intention which they may write out, and some of these are read out at Mass for all to pray for. The Novena Prayer in honour of St Francis can also be said at home.
Saint Francis Xavier Novena Prayer
O most kind and loving saint, in union with you I adore the Divine Majesty. The remembrance of the favours 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, the all important blessing of living and dying in the state of grace. I also beseech you to obtain the favour I ask in this Novena (here mention the favour to be asked for): 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.
who was pleased to gather unto your Church
the people of the East
by the preaching and miracles of blessed Francis,
mercifully grant that we who honour his glorious merits,
may also imitate the example of his virtues,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Alternative Novena Prayer
I join with you Saint Francis in bowing before the God of all Creation. When I look at the great things you did during life, I see what marvels can be achieved by a person blessed by God. I join with you in praising God and giving thanks for all the good things I have been given. Dear Saint Francis, please pray to God for me and ask that I may live and die in God’s favour. Please ask God for me for provided, of course, that this would be good for me. In the end, my only wish is for whatever gives glory to God and is good for my health in body, mind and spirit. Amen.
O God, you used Francis Xavier
to take the Christian message to the East.
You inspired his teaching,
supported him in his work
for the poor, sick and oppressed,
and strengthened him
in times of loneliness and trial.
May we who are inspired
by the life of Saint Francis Xavier
imitate his virtues,
and come to our eternal joy with you,
through Christ our Lord.