Archdiocese of Mobile

Novena Letter

Novena for the Healing of our Hearts and Home

 Archdiocese of Mobile

Sunday April 19-Monday April 27

Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

I am Thomas J. Rodi, the Archbishop of Mobile and I welcome you to take part in a Novena for the Healing of our Hearts and Home. I welcome in a special way all Catholics, Christians of other denominations and people of good will who are reading this and who live throughout the southern 28 counties of Alabama which comprise the Archdiocese of Mobile, our common home. I pray that this may be a powerful way in which we can join together as brothers and sisters, perhaps as never before, to humble ourselves before our God asking him to pour out his mercy and grace upon us to heal our hearts and home—that is, to use this trying time to draw us closer to God and to deliver us from this tragic pandemic.

The term “novena” comes from the Latin word “novem” meaning “nine” and is the traditional term Catholics use for a prayer that is offered for a special intention for nine successive days.  Why 9 days? Because after Jesus ascended into heaven, Mary and the apostles gathered together for nine days to pray for and await the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:3-14). Ever since the early Church received the Holy Spirit, it has been a tradition to implore God for nine consecutive days with a petition of great importance. *

Tragedies, like the one we are facing, have a way of getting our attention and potentially drawing us closer to God. However, this is not automatic. We have to allow ourselves to be humbled by the circumstances of life, renew our trust in God and invite him to change us for the better. Otherwise, the same tragedies may easily make us cynical and bitter leading us to resent God if not to reject him completely.

Consequently, as your brother in the Lord I feel compelled to lead all of us in humbling ourselves before the only one who can completely heal our hearts and our common home—God. We just celebrated Easter, God’s triumph over sin and death. Let us not be afraid to take this unique time as an opportunity to call upon the mercy and grace of God to triumph over this pandemic and all that threatens to draw us apart from God.  Let us ask him to take this cross we bear and transform it with his mercy into the peace and joy of the Resurrection. Let us pray that God may newly pour out his peace and joy over the all the world and in a particular way over all of us here in the southern half of Alabama.

I have chosen to lead you in two prayers during this Novena. One is the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. It is a prayer which Jesus himself taught to St. Faustina and asked her to spread around the world. One central prayer repeats throughout the chaplet—“For the sake of his sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”  This is exactly what we need God to do during this time—“have mercy on us and the whole world.”

The other prayer is a “Litany of Repentance” which highlights some of the ways that we have strayed from God. I have no idea why God is allowing this pandemic to affect our world. However, I do know it is an opportunity for us to slow down, realize what really matters in life and turn towards God with new fervor.

So let us kneel down together ask God to heal our Hearts and our Home, so that both may be filled with the peace and joy of the Risen Lord!

Sincerely in Christ,

Thomas J. Rodi

Archbishop of Mobile

*The name of the day “Pentecost” itself is derived from the Greek word “pentecoste,” meaning 50th. This is the Greek translation for the Jewish holiday, Shavu`ot, which falls 50 days after Passover. Shavu’ot is sometimes called the “Festival of Weeks,” referring to the seven weeks since Passover.

Originally a harvest feast, Shavu`ot now commemorates the sealing of the Old Covenant on Mount Sinai, when the Lord revealed the Torah to Moses on Mount Sinai. Every year, the Jewish people renew their acceptance of the gift of the Torah on this feast.

The Resurrection occurred on the Feast of First Fruits. Pentecost (Shavu’ot) was seven weeks later. Again that’s why it’s sometimes called the “Feast of Weeks.” However, the actual dates of both were established by counting from the first Sabbath after Passover (also the day Jesus died on the Cross—Good Friday). First Fruits was the first day after the Sabbath (the first after Passover) and Pentecost was the 50th day, so there were only 49 days between First Fruits (Jesus’ Ressurection—Easter Sunday) and Pentecost.

Acts 1:3 says that Jesus ascended into Heaven 40 days after His Resurrection (41 days after the Sabbath). That means Pentecost was 9 days later, not 10. In Scripture, the number 9 often marks the end, or conclusion of a matter. The arrival of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost marked the end of the Lord’s personal ministry on Earth and the beginning of his work through the Holy Spirit in his body the Church. Whereas “Pentecost” once celebrated the acceptance of God’s written law contained in the Torah, it now celebrates when God poured our his Holy Spirit upon the Church, writing his law upon our hearts. (Jer 31:33, Ez 11:19-20, Heb 10:16)

In John 16:7 the Lord had told His Disciples, “I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.