A Novena, in catholocism, is nine days of devotional prayer, practiced in petition or thanksgiving. It's origins are from the nine days that Mary and the Apostles prayed between Ascension and Pentescost.
Ascension is the event of Jesus rising to heaven, as the story is told, albeit briefly, in scripture. Pentecost is the event that occurred when Jesus' followers gathered, and his followers received the Holy Spirit for the first time. People were filled with ecstasy, speaking in tongues, and flames of fire jumped throughout the room, touching people as they were consumed by this supernatural gift or experience.
December 16, nine days before Christmas, is a common time for novena, particularly among clergy and the monastic community. I recently heard Richard Rohr describe how the monks arrive on Dec. 16 each year for evening vespers reverently chanting “O, Sapientia” which means O, Wisdom.
Do you ever think about the difference between wisdom and information? For me, it's the difference between truth and data.
Or faith and belief.
In each example, one is linear and one-dimensional. The other, is whole and infinitely more complex. Information is received and processed - then filed. But transformation is the dynamic integration and manifestation through experience. It is alive and becoming.
At least to my interpretation and understanding of these words, recognizing we are talking about language which is always subjective.
Belief, for example, is something we agree to or with. It is a product of the linear mind alone. While, faith, on the other hand, is something that is born in you. It is a trust that rises up from the inside alive. It's personal, dynamic, and experiential; while belief is agreement and creed. Do you see the difference?
Information is data we receive, while Wisdom is something we arrive at. It, too, is personal, dynamic, and experiential. It is an outcome of information and experience together. We have to walk into wisdom, allowing it to reveal itself when ready. Wisdom takes its place in the big picture, it's the expansive reality of life that is beyond belief and information. It rests in the center of who you are looking out over all that is in peace because it is complete in who it is. Until it moves into becoming again, and takes on new form as new wisdom. When it's ready, that is.
Transformation is the dynamic, life filled, process of change on all levels, becoming something completely new. Faith is belief transformed. Wisdom is information transformed. But neither can be transformed without the experience...
I'm considering a Novena on December 16th to reverently enter into a period of prayer and intention before Christmas. I find these times of intentional prayer and reflection around a particular spiritual event like Christmas can focus my mind on something without needing it, or being in crisis. It allows me to be more attentive to the bigger picture, instead of fielding the emotional or mental traps that encase the issues I'm facing when praying to resolve a problem.
The questions I will likely ask myself are something like this:
How am I not receiving the white light of Christ in all I do?
What is keeping me from walking in this light all the time?
Go into your feeling center, and feel into how the world was changed with Christ's birth. Feel into what its results are without religious language or words, and write your words down.
If you were to be more like Christ, how would that manifest in your day to day life? Be specific. Use relatiosnhips with people. Take your own inventory...write it down. Then share it with someone you trust as one might do confession.
How can I make this time of Novena transformative, instead of simply thoughtful?
What are some of the questions you might ask? Will you share them with us here?