Novenas are devotional prayers made by a person to God, typically through the intercession of a saint, for some specific prayer request or intention.
Novenas are traditionally nine days long, but exceptions exist (for instance, the twenty-five day St. Andrew novena leading up to Christmas, and the 54-day Rosary novena).
But a common question asked is: which novena should I pray?
Deciding Which Novena to Pray
Here are good criteria to use when deciding which novena to pray:
1. Find the Patron Saint of Some Need You Are Praying For
Sometimes you may be praying for a particular intention, say, the healing of your loved one from cancer. In such a situation, do an internet search for “patron saint of cancer,” and you will then find that St. Peregrine is that saint and you could start a novena through his intercession.
Or, you may want to pray for an intention around fatherhood, purity, being a good husband, and so on, in which case you would discover that St. Joseph and his novena is the perfect one to pray.
Perhaps you are a woman hoping to find your future husband, or you are praying that a woman you know finds her future husband. You would search for patron saint of finding a husband and St. Anne would be the saint to turn to.
The list goes on (and on!). Even for fairly rare or obscure needs, you will often find a saint who is the patron for that cause. Sometimes though you don’t find an exact match, or you are wanting to pray for a different kind of intention. For those situations, read on.
2. An Upcoming Saint’s Feastday
The Church packs its calendar full of saints’ feastdays, so much so that on any given week, some saint or another is having a celebration to honor them.
You can then simply look up the year’s liturgical calendar, find a saint who is soon to have a feastday, and you could then learn about that saint, and start praying a novena through their intercession.
The Pray Catholic Novena app automatically sorts the next saint’s novena to the top of the list, and presents the rest in chronological order from today’s date, so that is another option to find upcoming novenas.
This method has the benefit of both helping you learn about more saints and their faithfulness, and increasing your devotion to them and to God in the novena.
3. A Saint You Are Devoted To
A third route to answering the question of “What novena should I pray?” is to simply choose a saint that you are already devoted to.
I have several “go to” saints that I have grown close with through prayer over the years: St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Joseph, Our Lady.
When I have a need to pray for, I will just start praying a novena to them, no matter what the intention is.
Other similar ways to find a novena are to choose your name saint or Confirmation saint. Many people don’t realize it, but their names actually match a saint’s name, so this is a good way to find a saint. Similarly, if you are confirmed Catholic, you have a Confirmation saint you can always invoke.
Finally, you may be praying for someone who is devoted to a saint, or whose name matches that of a saint, so choosing a novena to that saint works well.
You Can’t Choose ”Wrong”
There are no wrong novenas. What’s important is the disposition of your heart in wanting to faithfully pray to God for the intention.
Similarly, novenas are not magic. Superstition has no place in the Catholic Faith. Sometimes prayer will be answered in a way you do not expect. We entrust our prayers to God and then accept that He knows best what we need. So, avoid superstitious practices or scrupulosity in fearing there is some “better” novena out there that you should have been praying.
Novenas are beautiful devotional prayers that have sprung up from the Faithful over the millennia in the Church. Start praying one today!