Prayer booklets for the Novena of Grace
Next Tuesday, 4 March, we will begin our Novena of Grace with St Francis Xavier SJ. A prayer booklet has been prepared by two alumnae of the chaplaincy at Oxford University, under Fr Simon Bishop SJ, the Director of Spirituality for the Jesuits in Britain. The prayer booklet combines the words and example of Pope Francis and those of St Francis Xavier SJ. “They are of a kindred Spirit and are perfectly matched,” says Fr Simon. “I hope anyone who takes part in the Novena of Grace will find the reflections, the prayers and the pictures both consoling and challenging."
The Novena of Grace is a Catholic devotion addressed to Saint Francis Xavier, which is usually performed from March 4 to 12. It was instigated in 1633 by an Italian Jesuit, Fr Marcello Mastrilli SJ, who saw a vision of St Francis Xavier after he had received a life-threatening head injury. Fr Mastrilli was on the verge of travelling to Japan to work as a missionary at the time and, in the vision, St Francis urged him to recommit himself to the mission and told him: "All those who implore my help daily for nine consecutive days, from the fourth to the twelfth of March inclusive and worthily receive the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion on one of the nine days will experience my protection and may hope with entire assurance to obtain from God any Grace they ask that is for the good of their souls and the glory of God." After his recovery, Fr Mastrilli not only kept his vow and travelled to Japan with a band of 33 Jesuit missionaries where he was martyred, but he also widely publicised St Francis Xavier’s promise and began the devotion of the Novena of Grace which continues to this day.
While the traditional nine days for the Novena of Grace are in March, the Novena can be prayed at any time of the year. The prayer booklet produced by the Jesuits in Britain is available from Jesuit parishes throughout Britain. The prayer leaflet in PDF format is attached.