If I ever heard the word “novena” growing up, I don’t remember it. Although I was a cradle Catholic, I didn’t learn what a novena was or how to pray one until I was in my mid-twenties.
After I found out about novenas and the spiritual gifts they offer, I tried to make up for lost time. My husband and I did a perpetual novena to St. Joseph for years, beginning with our engagement, and to this day it’s still our “go-to” novena. St. Joseph has never let us down. We’ve also found powerful graces through other novenas, such as the St. Peregrine novena, the St. Therese novena, and the Divine Mercy novena.
But sometimes there isn’t time to wait nine days for an intention. Sometimes we need immediate and powerful grace to assist us in a desperate situation. That’s when I’m grateful to have learned about Mother Teresa’s Emergency Novena (also called the Flying Novena or Express Novena).
Mother Teresa was flooded with prayer requests, and she had many intentions that she wanted to send up quickly to Our Lady. Her solution? Pray a novena of Memorares. Mother Teresa would pray nine Memorares in a row — and then she immediately added a tenth in thanksgiving for graces received.
I can’t remember where I first heard about the Emergency Novena, but the graces I have received each time I’ve prayed it have been tangible and immediate.
Not long ago, I went through a very difficult and intense period of suffering in my personal life. There were times when I did not know how I would make it through the next ten minutes with the level of suffering I was enduring, let alone the next hour, day, or week.
Throughout this time, I prayed traditional novenas, Rosaries (especially the Seven Sorrows Rosary), and many other prayers. But during those instances of immediate and almost unbearable need, the Holy Spirit reminded me to have recourse to the Emergency Novena. Nine Memorares (with a tenth for thanksgiving).
With the first few Memorares, I began to breathe more easily. By the end of the last ones, I felt increasing peace. What was even more amazing, though, is that every single time I prayed the Emergency Novena, my prayers were immediately answered. Every emergency was resolved. Every prayer that came forth from the depth of my heart was heard. Every cry of spiritual agony was answered.
I’ve long had a devotion to Mother Teresa, and so praying her Emergency Novena is one more way for me to feel closer to this saint whom I admire so much. Yet the strength of this prayer is not only that it was invented by St. Teresa, but that it implores the help of the Lady to whom Mother Teresa entrusted everything.
It is Mary who hears and answers us in our time of desperate need. It is Our Lady of Sorrows who knows what our suffering hearts are enduring, and it is Our Lady of Consolation who will come to our assistance when we beg for the grace we need in critical moments.
If you find yourself in a bind, without nine days or even nine minutes to wait for help, remember that you can have recourse to Mother Teresa’s Emergency Novena. Below is the Memorare for those who need it.
And if your suffering is so intense and overwhelming that even the Emergency Novena is too much for you to say, here is an even smaller prayer from Mother Teresa: “Mary, Mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now.” Perhaps saying this smaller prayer will give you the strength to do the Emergency Novena.
May Our Lady hear your petitions and intercede for you with immediate and overflowing grace.
St. Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
image: Statue of Mother Teresa of Calcutta holding a child inside Church of Saint Mary of Suffrage in Ravenna / GoneWithTheWind / Shutterstock.com