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The word novena refers to nine of something. Traditionally it's a nine-day prayer, but it can also be a prayer of nine hours, or nine weeks, or simply nine repetitions. Mother Teresa liked to pray the "express novena" to the Blessed Mother -- a repetition of the Memorare nine times in a few minutes -- during times of challenge or difficulty.
What is a Novena, and Why Should I Pray One? explains why we use nine instead of another number. It tells us there are different kinds of novenas. You can pray a novena by yourself or with others. And, it tells you how to pray a novena. But most importantly, it tells us that Christ taught us to pray without ceasing.
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Also available in Spanish.