WHAT IS THE 54 DAY ROSARY NOVENA?
The 54 Day Rosary Novena is a series of six consecutive, 9 day novenas, with three in petition (27 days) and three novenas (another 27 days) in thanksgiving.
Origins of the 54 Day Rosary Novena
The 54 Day Rosary Novena originated in 1884 at the Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompei. After appearing to and curing a dying woman, Fortuna Agrelli, Our Blessed Mother told her, "Whoever desires to obtain favors from me should make three novenas of the Rosary in petition with the reciting of the fifteen decades of the Rosary and three in thanksgiving.” By 1885 more than 900 cures had been recorded at the shrine.
This Novena is the most powerful way to pray the Rosary and is nearly unequaled in drawing down the grace and blessings of God. It follows all the advice given by Jesus in the Gospels on how to pray in a way that is pleasing to God.
Balanced Petition and Thanksgiving
When Jesus cured the ten lepers, only one returned to thank Him. "Were not all ten made clean? The other nine, where are they?" (Luke 17 : 18) We, being needy creatures, are quick to request God's help when in need. But once we have what we requested, we just as quickly turn our backs on God and focus our attention only on the gift we have received. We should instead, thank God for answering our prayers for at least as long as we spent asking for His help. The Rosary Novena does this, with equal time being spent in petition for what we ask and in thanksgiving for receiving it.
Petition Combined With Trust
"Have faith in God. I tell you solemnly, if anyone says to this mountain, 'Get up and throw yourself into the sea,’ with no hesitation in his heart but believing that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. I tell you therefore: everything you ask and pray for, believe that you have it already, and it will be yours." (Mark 11 : 22-25) "Is there a man among you would hand his son a stone when asked for bread? How much more will your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask him." (Matthew 7 : 9-11) These are just a few of the many times that Jesus implored us to trust completely in the love, care, and trustworthiness of our Heavenly Father. If what we are asking for is truly in our, or someone else's best interests, we should have complete confidence that God, the good and loving Father, will grant what we have asked. Like a little toddler who simply runs to their parent and cries when they need something, we should trust completely that our Heavenly Parent will provide us with everything that is truly good for us when we "cry" to Him in prayer.
This too, is an integral part of the Rosary Novena. The first half of the Novena is prayed in petition for whatever is needed with complete trust that God has in fact, actually already granted what we have asked for but has not yet revealed it to us, much like a wrapped present placed at the foot of a Christmas tree that we will get to open at a later time. During the second half of the Rosary, we continue trusting in God by offering sincere thanksgiving for the gift we have received, even if it is still "sitting under the tree" and it has not yet been revealed to us that we have received what we have asked for.
Perseverance In Prayer
"Search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you." (Matthew 7 : 7) A single prayer alone is often not enough to obtain for us what we have asked. Jesus taught us that loving, trusting perseverance is often required.
If we always received what we wanted the moment we requested it, our relationship with our Heavenly Father would degrade to mere acts of manipulation on our part. God would become little more than a vending machine in our eyes. We would deposit the "coins" of prayer and out would pop the grace or blessing we selected. To keep our relationship one of humble and loving petition between a child and their parent, God often makes us wait for a while before He grants what we have asked. He makes us ask Him several times for the same thing and waits to see if we will get impatient, angry, distrustful, or disrespectful, or if we will remain loving, obedient, and trusting while we wait for Him to answer our prayers.
God often makes us ask for something repeatedly to test our dedication to receiving that particular gift. How much work are we willing to do in order to obtain what we want? If we are praying for the salvation of a particular soul, how precious is that soul to us? Are we willing to spend the rest of our lives in prayer and penance? Would we dedicate a year? A month? A day? An hour? What is the limit of what we are willing to invest in order to receive what we have asked for?
This aspect of perseverance in prayer is also a part of the Rosary Novena. If you are not fully dedicated to receiving what you are asking for in the Novena, it becomes very easy to not bother praying the Rosary for the full 54 days in a row.
What Is A Novena?
In essence, a novena is a group of nine spiritual acts performed consecutively in order to obtain a specific blessing. This prayer form is based on the nine days of prayer performed by the Apostles as they waited for the coming of the Holy Spirit after Jesus' Ascension. It is intended especially to use the aspect of perseverance in prayer to obtain the spiritual gifts we need.
The additional grace that is attached to the Novena, over and above what you would receive by praying the nine individual prayers separately, comes from your commitment to praying the Rosary daily and your perseverance in following through on that commitment. It is the difference between saying to God, "I will definitely do this for You, regardless of what else happens" and saying "I might do something for You later, if I feel like it and nothing else comes up."