Patti Armstrong is an award-winning author and was the managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’ bestselling Amazing Grace series. Her latest books are: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families and Dear God, You Can’t Be Serious. She has a B.A. in social work and an M.A. in public administration and worked in both those fields before staying home to work as a freelance writer. Patti and her husband live in North Dakota, where they are still raising the tail end of their 10 children.
Desperation can drive people to do funny things. And holy things. My husband and I had moved to Bismarck in 1990 and bought a house. We were also renting our house in Montana to a couple who were supposed to be getting a down payment to buy the house.
They had changed their mind, however. In the meantime, they had trashed our house. Now it smelled and was a mess inside. Our relator told us no one would buy it as long as those people still rented it. Yet, we could not afford two mortgages even for one month.
An Impossible Situation
“We’ll end up having to foreclose,” my husband said. A week earlier, I would have agreed. But I had just stumbled onto an article about entertainer Danny Thomas who prayed to St. Jude for help when his career was struggling. Everything changed for him after the novena. To thank God and acknowledge St. Jude, he eventually founded the St. Jude Children’s hospital.
If it worked for Danny Thomas, maybe it could work for us. St. Jude is the patron saint of impossible causes. We certainly qualified.
Finding a novena to St. Jude took some hunting in those pre-Internet days. I finally located and obtained a novena prayer booklet.
After we finished the novena, our renters called one night, very upset, to say they were leaving the next day. There had been what sounded like a loud explosion in the basement. It freaked them out and they were leaving immediately.
“They can’t just leave” Mark said as I relayed the conversation to him. “They signed a lease. How will we pay the mortgage?”
“I don’t know, but maybe it’s an answer to our novena,” I said. “We know the house won’t sell with them in it.”
We agreed to let them leave and called an inspector to look in the basement. He found nothing at all that would have caused a loud noise.
An Answer to Prayer
A few days later, Mark’s parents called us from Hawaii where they had moved only a couple of weeks earlier. They had a change of heart and realized they didn’t want to live there. “What do you think about renting the house to us? We’ll fix it up and split the profit when it sells,” his mom said.
After four months, the house looked better than ever and sold immediately. Our seemingly impossible situation completely turned around. Surely, it was St. Jude. I’ve prayed many more novenas to St. Jude and other saints and received many answers more since then.
Are Novenas Necessary?
Catholics have a lot of tools at our disposal, from the sacraments to the Rosary to endless devotions and sacramentals. But can we be good Catholics if we don’t pray novenas? Yes, of course. They aren’t mandatory, but why would anyone not want to tap into a powerful way to access divine intervention from our brothers and sisters in heaven?
The very first novena is recorded in the New Testament. It was the nine days of prayer by the Apostles and Blessed Mother from the time Jesus ascended into heaven until Pentecost Sunday—a very big answer indeed. Saints are not canonized until there have been two miracles directly connected to their intercession.
Scripture tells us to pray for one another and that the prayers of the righteous are very powerful. So imploring a saint is asking someone very close to God to pray for our intention. Why not ask a saint, part of the great cloud of witnesses, (Heb 21:12) to pray on our behalf? We still talk to Jesus about it, but we can also enlist the help of those who loved him most while on earth and now in heaven.
To join an online prayer group with reminders go to Pray More Novenas.