St. Paul was not one of the twelve apostles. Instead he persecuted the first followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Touched by God’s grace, Paul became a new creation. He was sent by Jesus to announce his name and his message to the whole world. Reading the Acts of the Apostles and his letters in the New Testament it is clear that St. Paul shows himself to be as human as we are: able to dogged or unsure, angry or gentle, patient or anxious. . But he became so grafted onto Christ that he could eventually say: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). In this novena, we ask St. Paul to teach us how to be captivated by the love of Christ that we may truly be Christian—Christ in our world today.
Each day reflects upon an aspect of St. Paul’s life and holiness: Paul, a Devout Jew; Paul, the Convert; Paul, Servant of the Gospel; Paul, Communicator of Christ Crucified; Paul, a Concerned Father; Paul, Apostle of God’s Love; Paul, Ambassador of Christ; Paul, Prisoner for Christ; Paul, Vessel of God.
The tradition of praying novenas has its roots in the earliest days of the Church. Christians have always prayed for various needs, trusting that God both hears and answers prayer. The word “novena” derives from the Latin term novem, meaning nine. In a novena we pray a prayer for nine days. “But,” we might wonder, “doesn’t God know our needs before we event ask? Isn’t praying once for something enough?” Although we believe in God’s love for us, something we need to remind ourselves of this. Although we know we are held in God’s hands and that God will not let go, sometimes we need reassurance. What may appear to be mere repetition in a novena is really a continual act of faith and hope in our loving God.
Just as we pray for each other while here on earth, those who have gone before us and are united with God in heaven can pray for us and intercede for us as well. We use the term “communion of saints” to refer to this exchange of spiritual help among the members of the Church on earth, those who have died and are being purified, and the saints in heaven. Devotion to the saints can help us witness to our faith and encourage us in our commitment to lead lives of holiness and service as they did.