“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.”
— Luke 19:40
9 Simple Steps to Rock a Novena with Your Family
1. Gather 9 rocks; each rock should be smaller than the palm of your hand, but larger enough to write on (landscape rocks typically work well, if you have them!). Wash and dry your rocks, considering each individually — some may be bigger or smaller; some may be broken or rough; some may be smooth and rounded.
2. Choose a sturdy bowl or vase that is large enough to hold all of your rocks. Place the empty bowl or vase in the center of your kitchen table or in a central location in your home.
3. Locate a permanent marker, craft paint, or a paint pen.
4. Begin a discussion with your family. What grace or virtue do you need this week? See the idea list below for possible suggestions. Be specific and authentic in your choice.
5. Use permanent marker, craft paint, or a paint pen to write the virtue or grace that your family needs this week on one rock (it must be clean and dry for the marker/paint to adhere). Having considered the differences in your rocks, try to choose a rock that matches your intention. Place the rock in your vase.
6. Ask the Holy Spirit to give your family this blessing or the grace to exercise the desired virtue. Remember this in prayer with your family daily.
7. After one week, repeat the process adding a new rock to your vase with a new intention or desired virtue.
8. As you gather daily with your family, pray for all of the blessings or virtues in your vase (not just the most recent one)
9. Continue through 9 weeks of prayer for 9 blessings or virtues — a nine week novena created for and by your family. Look for ways that God answers and draws near to you in the process.
Understanding the Process:
Novena: Praying a novena simply means praying in a set of nine — typically 9 days, nine weeks, or nine months. The tradition was set by Jesus himself, as He ascended into heaven. He instructed his friends and apostles to ban together, pray, and wait. After 9 days of prayer, the Holy Spirit came upon his disciples — this is what we celebrate at Pentecost.
Included inside are materials to create a simple 9-week Novena for your family. Although no one is certain when life as we’ve know it will go back to “normal,” we do know that our children will be out of school for the next 9 weeks — this is your opportunity to turn the joys and difficulties of these next 9 weeks into prayer.
Rock: Rocks are actually meaningful sources of metaphor in the scriptures. Beginning with the Exodus, God gave life sustaining water to the Israelites in the desert by instructing Moses to strike a rock with his staff. From the rock, water flowed forth (Ex. 17:6). God himself is often spoken of as a “Rock” — a title that is used to describe His steady nature and His ability to protect and shelter His people.
Through the prophet Ezekiel, God promised to give His people a new heart and a new spirit, removing our “heart of stone” and giving us a “heart of flesh” (Ezk. 36:26). In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is tempted by the Devil while fasting — “tell these stones to turn into bread” (Mt 4:3). For this reason, rocks also symbolize mortification and fasting (our church even “decorates” with rocks during Lent). Jesus also builds his Church on the “Rock” of St. Peter’s faith (Mt. 6:18).
In the Gospel of Luke (19: 37-40), when Jesus enters into Jerusalem, the crowd waves palm branches and praises Him saying, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” The Pharisees instruct Jesus to rebuke the people and tell them to be silent. Jesus responds, I tell you, if they keep silent, the stones will cry out!” In His response, Jesus reminds us that He is worthy of praise through expected means, and also through unexpected means; through easy circumstances, and through difficult circumstances.
I love you, Lord; you are my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety. I called on the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and he saved me from my distress. —Psalm 18:1-3
From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I. —Psalm 61:2
For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.— 1 Corinthians 10:1-4
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. — Ezekiel 36:26
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. — Matthew 16:18
The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” — Matthew 4:3-4
“I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” — Luke 19:40