I don’t know what my problem is, but I have a problem with novenas. I guess I’m overly cautious about superstition — maybe I’ve seen too many of those classified ads: “Force the Sacred Heart of Jesus to grant your top wishes!” I may be an idiot, but even I know better than to drag the Holy Spirit into a pyramid scheme.
But seriously, I do understand the theology behind a novena. You’re just kind of proving to God that you really, really mean it, like the woman in Luke 18 who wouldn’t leave the judge alone, so he finally said, “[B]ecause this widow is troublesome to me, I will avenge her, lest continually coming she weary me.” My kids know this method, too, and that is how I found myself at the cash register at Walmart, shelling out genuine cash dollars for three hideous Lisa Frank lunch boxes that they really, really, really, really wanted a lot.
Recently, someone heard that my husband was out of work, and she suggested a novena to Edith Stein. I don’t know what the connection could be between Edith Stein and employment, and I couldn’t actually find a very good novena online. The one that we ended up with turned out to be kind of a sacrifice in itself: it’s so awkwardly and pretentiously written, I can’t decide if it was translated by a computer from another language, or just written by a sadist.
But my husband had been out of work for eight months, and we happened to get this tip about the novena on the day before Edith Stein’s feast day. Not wanting to annoy God, who was clearly trying to get our attention, we started the novena.
He got a job on day 2. We added a couple of other guys on, and they both got interviews — and they didn’t even get the full nine days!
I didn’t start with a photo of Edith Stein, because I couldn’t find the only nice one I’ve ever seen. Normally, she looks crabby and irritated–not at all someone you’d ask for help–but I once saw a photo of her playing with a baby niece or someone, and she looked relaxed and happy.
Here’s an explanation of the picture at the top, according to the CASE website:
This beautiful painting of Our Lady protecting Europe illustrates the Christian roots of Europe, and shows Our Lady surrounded by six patron saints of Europe: SS Cyril and Methodius , St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross (Edith Stein), St Benedict, St Bridget of Sweden, and St Catherine of Siena. Robert Schumann, one of the founding fathers of the European Union, looks on. St Benedict offers the monastery of Canterbury to the Blessed Virgin, and St Cyril writes of the conversion of the Slavs.
The painting is by John Armstrong, who is involved in a forthcoming celebration of religious art in Liverpool: see Vision of Hope.
(cross-posted at The Anchoress)