We have all experienced going-through-the-motions while praying a novena* at one point or another. Days 1-2 are super intentional and fruitful while days 6-8 turn into praying half-conscious as you remember at 2 A.M. that you forgot to pray that day.
*What is a novena? The tradition in the Catholic Church of praying for specific intention for nine consecutive days originates from the first couple of chapters in Acts of the Apostles. Mary and the apostles are waiting, praying, and keeping vigil, for coming of the Advocate (the Holy Spirit) as promised by Christ right before His Ascension into Heaven. This period of waiting and praying lasted for nine days. Novenas are prayed in one of the following ways: anticipation, preparation, petition, or penance (read more about novenas on Hallow here).
One way to upgrade your commitment and intentionality in prayer for those nine days is to wear something that reflects your chosen novena. We have selected five popular novenas to give you ideas of what to wear as a reflection of that practice. The more our exterior and interior selves are aligned, the more we are able to act with intentionality. What you put on affects your mood and actions. How profound and helpful to quite literally “put on” a novena so that the exterior self is oriented with the interior. We could benefit from another reminder through which we allow the novena to affect all areas of our life.
The focus of this novena is in the name—to surrender all (particularly worry & anxiety) to Jesus with a childlike trust. some ways to visualize this intention is through the colors of the Sacred Heart, loose clothing (surrender of control and rigidity), minimalist aesthetic (to reflect simplicity).
St. Irenaeus (2nd Century) is noted for his description of the role of Our Lady: “The knot of disobedience of the first woman, Eve, was undone by the obedience of Mary; the knot the virgin Eve had created was undone by the Virgin Mary through her faith.” The novena primarily focuses on asking Mary to bring our knotted attachments, sins, wounds, difficulties, etc. to Jesus so that we might receive the fullness of grace, freedom, and healing. What better way to reflect this novena than wearing anything that ties (sneakers, lace up dresses, ribbons in hair, cord or twine bracelets). We also love the idea of draping in the shape of the outfit (styling a kimono, oversized t-shirt, scarf, or wearing your hair down to reflect being undone). Consider the colors in the painting of Our Lady Undoer of Knots by wearing royal blue or a rust red.
"Saint Ann, saint Ann, find me a man…”
No, she intercedes for much more than the single woman’s cry. Many flock to the intercession of St. Ann asking for a renewal of hope particularly with familial and societal healing. As the grandmother of Jesus and mother of Mary (receiver of the Immaculate Conception) we honor St. Ann. She more than anyone knows what it means to hope beyond her circumstances as she struggled with infertility and miraculously received the bounty of the Lord’s abundance in her holy family. Consider the colors white/silver (for the purity of her intentions and the daughter she bore) and green (for new life and hope). Anything with stars on it can be a reminder of this novena (particularly 8-pointed stars which are associated with hope in sacred art).
Protector and defender of the Holy Family and known for his profound humility, St. Joseph’s intercession honors Christ. We ask for him to bring particularly our concerns with jobs and housing to Jesus. To reflect this novena, go simply with the ruggedness of jeans and leather. Consider adding gold accessories which reflects the virtues of St. Joseph and his heart perfected by the constancy of Jesus and Mary.
Just a quick skim through the Book of Tobit will quickly reveal to you that St. Raphael’s guidance entails killing whales and sacrificing fish as a means to cast out demons. Pretty gnarly. Many seek the intercession of St. Raphael for various kinds of healing (particularly for mental health and relationships) and as protection in travel. We find it fitting to reflect this novena through the nautical aesthetic. Take out your blue stripes, anything with an anchor pattern, or even better if it has a fish logo/design.