The 54 Day Rosary Novena . . . Whew!

Gonzaga University

54 Days Ago very well-intended and inspired, I began the 54 Day Rosary Novena. This particular rosary novena is known for being immensely powerful and grueling. I “knew” what I was getting myself into or not. I heard of this novena from my parents who prayed it once together during a desperate family situation 27 years ago when I was an infant.

The historical origins date back to 1884 Naples after an apparition of Our Lady of Pompeii to Commander Agrelli’s daughter Fortuna who suffered from untreatable, agonizing stomach ailments. She and her family commenced three rosary novenas. On March 3rd. 1884, Fortuna greeted Our Lady of Pompeii accompanied by St. Catherine of Sienna and St. Dominic with “Queen of the Holy Rosary.” Mary upon recognizing her title requested 3 more rosary novenas in Thanksgiving of a cure. Upon the 6th set of rosary novenas, Fortuna experienced her miraculous cure. Upon learning of this miracle, Pope Leo XIII urged Christians to pray the rosary fervently.

Considered “a laborious novena, but a novena of love,” this rosary Novena consists of praying the rosary with a specific introductory prayer, particular introduction to each mystery, closing to each mystery, a spiritual communion offered, and specific concluding prayers. The first 27 days (3 rosary novenas) are prayed in petition. The last 27 days (3 rosary novenas) are prayed in thanksgiving for the answering your prayer intention(s) whether or not it has been “answered.” Since the novena originated before the Luminous mysteries, traditionally only the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries are prayed.

My 54 Day experience ranged from great highs to impressive lows. Some days I felt immense consolation. Other days I experienced spiritual isolation. Part way through the first 27 days, I felt lost. After five days of 4 hours of sleep, I felt spiritually drained and attacked. I almost quit. I continued a few more days. When one of my intentions seemed to go up in flames, I almost quit. I continued a few more days. When I lost sleep again, I almost quit. One night when I was sleep deprived, I messed up the mysteries. In tears, I ranted to my mother. I felt like I failed. Again I resumed. Another night when I was even more sleep deprived, I fell asleep during the 1st Joyful mystery. This time I entrusted my human limitations to Mother Mary and continued to pray. By the final 2 weeks, I prayed, and I felt a sense of resolve and peace. Today I completed my imperfect yet sincere 54 Day Rosary Novena. *SIGH OF RELIEF*

Some people write that if you mess up the 54 Day Rosary Novena at any point, you must restart. Congratulations to all those who pray correctly all 54 Days. But God and Mother Mary understand intention. And effort. Um, perfection isn’t the point of pray. Love is. Purpose is. Intention is. Trust is. If that means 54 days of perfection or imperfection, God and Mary know. I learned much about myself, my faith, and my relationship with Mary and her Son. But, to be honest, I don’t see another 54 Day Rosary Novena on my horizon. But God is probably laughing. If I pray another novena like this, it’ll be for a very special, prayerful occasion.


Being Young & Catholic in the Northwest . . .

I’ve either lived in or visited most regions of the USA. Few people outside the West know much about the Northwest region of our country let alone the Inland Northwest. Before I moved to Washington State, Washington meant D.C. and any reference to the State of WA really meant Seattle. Some sport fans recognize Spokane in Eastern WA as “that place those Zags are from.” Wait, that isn’t a suburb of Seattle?” Nope. What is it like being a Young Adult Catholic in the Inland Northwest or Northwest for that matter. Here is a beginners guide:

1.) Theology on Tap/ Pub Nights are an integral part of the Young Adult Community. There will be serious conversations about the merits of micro brews and craft beer. And Jesus. And other important faith related topics.

Pub Night
Photo Credit: Cathedral Of Our Lady of Lourdes, Pub Night

2.) If you aren’t willing to learn how to coordinate a fleece jacket with Mass attire, don’t move here. Khakis, dress pants, skirts, and dresses can all be worn with a stylish fleece jacket, preferably name brand.

3.) Our Young Adult retreats usually involve a river, lake, ocean, or mountain setting. Walking Pilgrimages are a big deal here. We love praying with our feet and enjoying the bounty of God’s pristine, beautiful creation.

Bowl & Pitcher
Photo Credit: Isaiah Eyre Photography

4.)   Welcome, to the land of the Jesuits, i.e., the Society of Jesus. Many schools, missions, parishes, and colleges in the Northwest are Jesuits. You will inevitably share good times and interesting conversations with Jesuits in all stages of formation. For all those who are rolling their eyes, yes, Jesuits certainly vary from member to member. But remember, EWTN’s Fr. Mitch Pacwa and my former university president and uber philosopher Fr. Robert Spitzer are Jesuits. . . . Not to mention the Pope too. When they are devout, Jesuits are amazing.

st als
Photo Credit: Gonzaga University, St. Ignatius, & St. Al’s Church

5.) We celebrate Mass at pristine mountain vistas and historic Mission Churches.

seattle young adiult
Photo Credit: University of Washington Newman Center Young Adult Group

6.) Our events tend to be lighter in attendance. The Northwest is considered the least “Churched” area of the country. Being Catholic in the Northwest requires active seeking out and choosing something not a thriving part of the general culture.

7.)  Our summer parish or young adult picnics can involve wildfire smoke.

smoke 2015 spokesman
Photo Credit: Spokesman Review, 2015 Wildfires (an extreme example)

8.) Our priests tend to drive motorcycles complete with Eucharistic Adoration Monstrance decals, go fly fishing on their day off, and host social events at local, eclectic coffee houses and sustainable, farm-to-table eateries.

9.) We have less religious orders in comparison to many other regions of the USA and even fewer religious orders that wear habits. We get excited about habits like the Sisters of Mary Mother of the Church or the Dominicans.

10.)  Being Catholic in the Northwest in an adventure, a learning experience, a test of conviction, and an ongoing project at building a devout, thriving community. St. Francis Quote