Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs daily at Aleteia. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and ten children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.
Being a lazy slob, it's easy enough to ignore all my super physically fit friends and their perpetual challenges. "My FitBit says I worked off 39,00 calories today by replacing my desk chair with a giant hamster wheel that is on fire!" reports one friend, and I yawn. "Just four months more to train for the Monster Mama Marathon," says another, "Where women in their third trimester run 26 miles as a way of warming up before they swim the English Channel with their husbands on their backs! It's gonna be a blast!" Yeah, last time I was pregnant I blasted my way through those last months, too, but wasn't no one takin' pictures.
So, I'm immune to that kind of challenge. Give me my treadmill and my mildly transgressive 90's rock, and I will slog out my thirty minutes and be content. But it's harder to resist all this peer pressure from my Catholic friends who are always reporting, "Day three! Still going strong! Anyone want to join? There's still time!" or "Day five! I almost gave up, but I'm embracing the burn and pressing forward! I can almost taste that goal!"
Yarr, we're talking about novenas. Everybody's doing them. I don't know how much longer I can hold out. Here are a couple of things that might help me get on board:
Zippier titles. Sometimes all it takes is a really good name to capture people's interest. Nobody wants to get involved with a program called "Every Time You Think You Are Achieving Something, We Will Ratchet Things Up to Make You Feel Weak and Trembly All Over Again!" No, they call it "Couch to 5K," to give you the mental image of springing forth like a gazelle out of your loathsome couchridden days.
So maybe we could have less "Novena to the Divine Heart of Our Lady of Prompt and Courteous Ministration to Those Bound by Perpetual Concupiscence" and more "Slob2God!" or " The Nine Day GO!vena Ultra Challenge."
Well, maybe not.
Prizes. I do realize that we're talking about begging for mercy so as to avail ourselves of the grace that will bring us to eternal life. So that's something. But how about a system where if you finish the whole thing, you can have a hamburger next Friday? Or, if you make to day nine without falling asleep in the middle of any Hail Marys, you get to go through all the Music Issues with a glue stick, so no one ever has to sing "Hosea" again? Or how about you put your toddler in escrow on day one, and if you make it to the last day without skipping, you don't have to take her out of escrow? I'm just saying, we're dealing with human nature here. Nothing wrong with some extra motivation.
Get someone to write them who isn't an 18th century grandmother from French Quebec. Hmm, maybe? I was kidding with the other suggestions, but this is a plea from my heart. Catholicism is one of the more vigorous faiths, but this really doesn't come across when a husband agrees to say a novena with his wife, and finds himself on the couch growling, "We beeseech thee, o most bounteous lady, that the teardrops of thy divine mercy might flow down thine splendid eyelashes and drop into my very soul, so that the foulness therein might be watered and spring forth into a glorious spiritual garden in which angels perch, to warble forevermore of thy bounteous bounty. O that those posies might already bedeck my forehead as I turn my eyes unto thee, o ever-enchanting one!"
Yeah, I would settle for #3.