Novenas (Prayers of Intercession and Devotion) by William G. Storey from Loyola Press is a valuable addition to a prayer library. The publisher claims it is a unique collection and I have no evidence suggesting this is otherwise so.
Some web pages offer novenas, traditional and with various saints. This book complies thirty-seven of these in a consistent 269-page format, well-organized with helpful introductions and notes. The size (3 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches) is handy and it seems well bound in leather and sturdy enough for repeated use over time. The reader will find old favorites (novenas for Our Lady of Perpetual Help and The Sacred Heart of Jesus) as well as the contemporary (Dorothy Day and Oscar Romero) plus a number of other prayers.
The bulk of this book consists of those traditional nine-day devotions modelled after the disciples’ wait after Jesus’ Ascension until the coming of the Holy Spirit. A few “triduums” are offered, plus a section of litanies. Each novena or triduum is given a structure familiar to those who pray the Liturgy of the Hours: opening hymn, followed by a psalm with antiphon, a psalm prayer, a reading with response, a canticle with antiphon, a litany, and a concluding prayer.
Some of the new offerings are charming and prayerful, like the “Triduum for an Engagement To Marry” which includes a poem by Chaucer and an apt reading from the Book of Tobit. An optional “Promise of Future Marriage” appends this devotion, including a blessing of an engagement ring and the public commitment of couple with family, friends, and believers.
Were I the author or publisher, I would hope this book would gain a wide use across Catholicism. If traditional Catholics are more accustomed to the more basic prayer, litany, Our Father, Hail Mary format, this book’s liturgical sensibility might seem a bit bloated. If less traditional Catholics were turned off from the novena format, this volume would have a lot to offer for both individual and communal prayer, including the home and family.
This is a book I wish I had compiled myself. I like the idea of combining liturgical and devotional aspects. Novenas has something for everyone. It brings a well-worn liturgical structure to old prayers. It includes a wealth of Scripture and hymnody. It might serve to introduce modern Catholics to an old prayer form which is lovingly enhanced and presented with class.
Recommended highly for personal or family prayer, for liturgical use in a parish–large group or small, and as a gift for a prayerful friend.