It's a chilly Divine Mercy Sunday here and the little one and I have been up since 4 am. We had plans as family to attend Mass despite Josh's crazy work schedule, but now, I'm hoping my little one will crash within the next few hours and allow his daddy to sleep in and me to slip away to Mass for one-on-one time with the Lord, especially since I forgot to pray my Divine Mercy Chaplet yesterday evening.
Now, I love a good novena as much as the next subscriber to Pray More Novenas email list, but I've found that mindset surrounding wasn't necessarily accurate. Novenas are nine days of prayer dedicated to a particular set of intentions and a particular intercessor. You pray the written prayers that have been determined as the novena until the time frame is up. I have found a lot of grace and mercy in novenas, including prayers answered for finances and for our marriage. There is so much fruit available when you really commit to praying and asking someone else, closer to God in Heaven, to pray for you too.
But novenas are not magic spells. Length and accuracy are not directly related to their effectiveness! If you miss a day, it can be easy to conclude that there's no point in going on, but sisters, God doesn't exist in our time! If you missed the Divine Mercy chaplet novena yesterday like I did, because of a great day with your family, then offer up two today with deep sincerity and faith. If this is the first you're reading about a Divine Mercy novena, set aside time before and after Mass and pray three before and three after. You can do the remaining three before bed tonight (they're pretty short).
God does not need a loud, showy performance of prayer that is nine days long. God only wants your sincerity of heart when you turn to Him. Your intentions behind the prayer, the purposefulness within your heart and soul are what create powerful prayers. Recall the Jesus' parable about the two men praying. One was flashy and loud, condemning the poor tax collector in the back of the temple who was fervently repenting before God quietly in his own heart. Who did Jesus say would receive his reward in Heaven? The tax collector!
Through St. Faustina, Jesus and Mary gave us a beautiful set of prayers that fill us with grace when we pray them like the tax collector. God will pay us a full day's wage, regardless of when we started. Don't let the excuse that you forgot prevent you from participating in powerful prayers today, sister!
If you didn't know, this past week was my first full week of teaching; Monday through Friday spent with the funniest, most inquisitive group of sixth through 8th graders you've ever met. They are going to be a joy to educate and learn from this year! (You can read my first week reflection here.)
One student asked me this thought provoking question, after sitting and thinking for moment:
"We're Christians, right? And because we're Christians we're not supposed to call people bad names, right? So... is it okay if we call the Devil bad names?"
What a question...
I would like to preface my answer by saying that in retrospect, this would have been a good question to send the student home with. Our school is Catholic but not all of our students are (including my questioner). But I cannot resist a good question, so after a little thought, this is what I told the student...
"The Devil is corporal, real being, just like God. But the Devil's goal is to interfere with our life and relationship with God as much as possible. All Satan wants is to be invited in to get in between us and our God. So, I don't think it's a good idea to tempt the Devil. It's probably best to not address him at all."
The Evil One is crafty. Just look at Genesis, where he prays on Adam and Eve's pride and love for one another. He takes our best pieces and uses them against, slowly and surely. He took a good piece of my student, someone who wants to condemn Satan and all his evil promises, and use it as a way into his little life.
But we don't have to call the Devil names to address him. We invite him into our lives when we willfully choose to do anything counter to the life Christ has called us to leave. Trashy TV, crude music, gossip with coworkers... those small sins build up making it easier and easier the Evil One to interfere. One more drink, snoozing for an extra hour on Sunday. It's the little things that create space for temptation and failure to resist.
Sometimes we forget that the Devil isn't just another boogieman. The Devil is a real, corporal being who wants to tempt us away from our loving God each and every day. Which is why we shouldn't call him names. He wrecks enough havoc on our lives without our taunting. The only thing we need to be saying to him is "not today."
Not today Satan. Not today.