FAQ & Tips

As we embark on this Impossible Novena journey, there will surely be things that come up which leave you wondering…Why? When? How?

While we don’t have all the answers, we’ve done our best to cover the basic information within the tabs of this website. And there will be much more content coming out throughout the course of the Novena!

Here are a few things you might already be wondering, and we hope that the answers will give some clarity

Walking with Experience

We admit, we have not done this Novena ourselves. So we asked someone who HAS done it…13 times.

We interviewed Stephanie Engelman who answers some questions & shares her experience with the Impossible Novena.

Her powerful testimony is linked below, and we encourage all to watch it!

What is the Origin of The Impossible Novena?

The answer is, we don’t know…yet. This particular Novena has been very hard to research. Discovering its origin has proved to be quite “impossible.” At this time, we have emails out to several Catholic institutions (Catholic Answers, The Marians of the Immaculate Conception to name a few...) and we’ve even asked some friends to inquire at their Seminaries/Monasteries. While many have heard of the Novena, we have yet to find someone who knows where it originated from. Stay tuned! We are very curious and still on the hunt.

Why Should We Pray A Novena?

In Scripture, Jesus teaches us to pray without ceasing. In our lives, we come to God in childlike simplicity asking for what we think that we need, even when it is not in our best interests. At the same time, we try to better understand why God does not always give us what we initially want. This childlike dependence on our Lord is what novenas are all about. Instead of asking once or twice, we keep going back, nine times. Novenas remind us of our neediness and invite us to keep asking, just as Christ told us to do.

Why Nine?

The number nine is symbolic and historically significant. Three times three, nine, is a trinity of trinities. Invoking and pondering the number nine during our devotion of a novena reminds us of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

However, nine is one shy of ten. In our minds, nine is incomplete. These feelings of being incomplete can only be filled by God. A novena reminds us of our dependency on Christ and it glorifies His greatness.

Do You Have to be Catholic to Pray a Novena?

Nope! Whether or not you are a Catholic, if you are a disciple of Jesus Christ, then Mary is your Mother too. And she wants to pray for ALL her children.

“When Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son.’ Then He said to the disciple ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” John 19: 26-27

As Jesus was dying on the cross, with his last breaths, He gave us His mother to be our mother too. Not only Catholic Christians, but EVERY Christian.

We promise you, Mary will not take away from your relationship with Jesus.

She will only bring you closer to HIM. And that is exactly what we hope to obtain throughout the 9 months of this Novena.

To get to know Jesus better. Who knows Him better than His Mother?! We are simply asking for her help.

“Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.” // St. Maximilian Kolbe

Any Tips for Choosing Intentions?

There is no “right” or “wrong” way to choose a prayer intention. When you ponder this question in a state of prayer, The Holy Spirit will guide your intentions and help you discern what would make for a most fruitful Novena.

Here are my personal thoughts. I’ve done a handful of 54 Day Rosary Novenas, and I’ve realized that I tend to choose intentions that are more specific than broad. It’s a personal preference. I’ve learned that when I bring specific requests to prayer over long periods of time, it allows for the opportunity to notice and receive grace in a very tangible way (this is why I highly recommend spiritual journaling). This style of prayer, in the Novena setting, has strengthened my faith & trust in The Lord in wondrous ways.

Choosing more specific intentions has prompted me to pay more attention to God’s action in my life, and it’s deepened my relationship with Him in profound ways over the past few years. Sometimes I’ve brought specific requests to novenas, and the opposite of my request happens. Looking back at my prayer intentions and my journals, I am always able to see that God DID answer my prayer

…not how I wanted it answered, but how I needed it answered

Any Tips for Times of Desolation?

When your heart is discouraged, you have little energy for spiritual things, and God feels far away, you are experiencing spiritual desolation. Resist and reject this enemy tactic! Desolation turns us in on ourselves, drains us of our energy, drives us down the spiral ever deeper into our own negative feelings, makes us want to give up on the things that used to be important to us. I gave into the temptation to quit this Novena last year. I don’t want it to happen to you, too.

In Times of Spiritual Desolation, remember these rules by St. Ignatius:

Rule #5: Never change anything in your spiritual life. For example, if you’ve committed to this Novena and you don’t “feel” like praying, do it anyways. Push through and resist the temptation. The days you push past the discouragement might just be the days you receive the most grace to carry on.

Rule #6: Although in desolation we ought not to change our first resolutions, it is very helpful intensely to change ourselves against the same desolation, as by insisting on more prayer, meditation, on much examination, and by giving ourselves more scope in some suitable way of doing penance

Rule #7: Think of this truth. God is giving me all the grace I need to get safely through this desolation

Rule #8: Be patient, stay the course, and remember that consolation will return much sooner than the desolation is telling you.

What If I Miss A Day?

We will all miss a day at some point, that is life. Our Lord & Our Lady understand our hearts and our sincere intentions. However, it’s important to set ourselves up for a successful prayer routine in advance, with anticipatory plans for the days when we know we will be busy (remember, we will have audio prayers available! Hopefully this will help keep you on track on busier days.)

If you miss a day, we recommend “doubling up” the next day. Not because Our Lady “requires” them…she doesn’t. We recommend doubling up the next day because it’s what is best for YOU. Remaining disciplined in the spiritual life keeps your mind and heart focused on God, and such discipline is essential for engaging in spiritual warfare when it arises.

On the days you “double up", perhaps you can do one set of Novena prayers in the morning, and one in the evening. Split them up! Pray along while you’re driving, doing dishes, laundry or going for a walk. You can offer up whatever task you are doing along with your prayers. Don’t be afraid to use the audio prayers!

We believe that your prayers don’t need to be said “perfectly”, on your knees, in a quiet peaceful setting to be powerful. But when the effort is made to pray them each day, and they’re said from the heart, you will surely see the graces flow in your life.

What if I Know I Will Be Missing Several Days ?

(ex: for a Surgery/Hospitalization etc)

Our Lord and Our Lady understand life’s circumstances and you can trust that they are extending great mercy and grace during these times. Here is a suggestion (not a requirement). Wouldn’t it be really cool if someone prayed on your behalf? What if  you were to invite a loved one to pray these novena prayers for you for a few days since you will be unable to? You can give them the prayers with your intentions (if you feel comfortable with that) and ask them to do the prayers for you until you are able to resume again. What a unique opportunity to invite a loved one into this prayer community, even if just for a short time.

Some of us don’t have anyone we can ask to pray for us in such situations. If you are planning for surgery and/or hospitalization, and you don’t have anyone to pray on your behalf, please send us a DM on Instagram. You can find our information on the “Contact Us” page. We would be honored to unite your intentions with ours.

Can I Change My Petition Mid Novena?

This is something that should be taken to prayer between you and The Lord. There are several reasons you may want to change your petition mid way through, and we will address them here. Ultimately, you should take this to prayer and discern what is best for your spiritual life.

You want to change your petition because your prayer was answered. Wonderful! We still recommend keeping the original intention, but just shift your focus a bit. For example…let’s say you prayed for someone to be cured of cancer. And they were! Instead of changing to an entirely new intention, continue praying for that same person. You can offer your prayers with a heart of thanksgiving for the rest of the Novena. When the prayers prompt you to “state your intention,” you can pray for the person to realize God’s glory in their healing. You can pray that their faith may be deepened through the experience. (These are just examples of how you can alter your same prayer intention)

You want to change your petition because the prayers feel dry. Remember the rules of St. Ignatius we discussed above. Never make a change in a state of desolation. If you prayed for guidance choosing intentions before the start of the novena and you were led to this intention, try to continue this intention for as long as possible. It’s possible that this sense of desolation is a tactic of the enemy to convince you to quit or give up on an intention. Persevering in such situations would bear beautiful fruit. If you are still feeling led to change your intention when you are in a state of “consolation”, take it to prayer and discern where God is leading you.

You want to change petitions because a more “emergent” prayer request has come up and the Novena has already begun. While this is a thoughtful consideration, we would typically recommend sticking with the original intentions you chose. Of course, there are exceptions and God has unique plans for each of us. TAKE IT TO PRAYER. Ask The Lord what He wants you to pray for. If you feel you need to change your intention for something dire/emergent (aka a life threatening diagnosis or critical situation), please go to Adoration to receive the peace and clarity you need. Jesus will reassure you of what your ongoing prayer requests should be.

How Should I Bring My Intentions?

An Attitude of Gratitude

Since a novena is a powerful form of prayer, we may be tempted to abuse the graces God gives us through a novena. It is in our fallen nature to, at times, expect particular answers to our prayers. We may see or hear testimonies of novenas that "never fail." Such descriptions seem to make us think that the novena itself is a means to get whatever we want. We must renounce the temptation in seeking to manipulate God in our prayers. God does not change, and so, the real object of prayer is changing ourselves.

Even the most sincere prayers do not come with a guarantee that we will get what we desire. However, God will always give us an answer. The answer may not be what we expect, and it could be the complete opposite of what we think that we want. Our Father knows what is best for us. God answers us according to His will on the basis of our needs, not solely our wants. Let us be like Jesus at Gethsemane in that we may pray God's will be done.

How Do We Prepare For God’s Answers?

We should prepare for our prayers to be answered in the same way God answered the apostles at Pentecost. Without a doubt, the gifts of the Holy Spirit were a direct answer to their novena prayers. However, these gifts were so much greater than a moment of great, yet temporary, feelings. The gifts bestowed to them were a spiritual preparation for the trials, and even martyrdom, that lay ahead of the apostles.

Even when the apostles greatly suffered, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit enabled them to live in joy and ecstasy. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the apostles suffered with grace and conformed more closely to Christ while suffering. Seeing the glorious fruits after praying for nine days allowed the apostles to trust in God's will. So, trust in God's will, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, along with the eternal joy that comes from Him, is the real intention of our prayers.

"The Son of God became man for our salvation but only in Mary and through Mary."