Do you have a favorite novena?

Today is the feast of St. Agnes (Wreath I, Love of God) and it seemed fitting to post this list I have been making of novenas to follow the calendar year.

Let’s make it clear – I do NOT do all of these novenas but I have them listed (in pencil) in my planner so I can remember they are out there should I need an extra spiritual boost (and who doesn’t)? And, of course, you can do any novena for any saint at any time. Our loving, merciful and gracious God stands outside of space and time, so feel free to enlist the help of the saints in heaven to stand before His throne whenever you have a need; be it physical, mental or spiritual.

As everyone already knows, I am a huge fan of and regularly recommend their novenas, but here are a few others. Perhaps you will find just the prayer partner you’ve been looking for. And, please let us know who we missed and who you love!

St. Agnes Novena
Starts: January 12th
Feastday: January 21st

St. Francis de Sales Novena
Starts: January 15th
Feastday: January 24th

St. Thomas Aquinas Novena
Starts: January 19th
Feast Day: January 28th

St. Josephine Bakhita Novena
Starts: January 31st
Feast Day: February 8th

Our Lady of Lourdes Novena
Starts: February 2nd
Feast Day: February 11th

St. Patrick Novena
Starts: March 8th
Feast Day: March 17th

St. Joseph Novena
Starts: March 10th
Feast Day: March 19th

Divine Mercy Novena
Starts: Good Friday
Ends: Divine Mercy Sunday

Mary, the Virgin of Revelation Novena
Starts: April 3rd
Feast Day: April 12th

St. Gianna Beretta Molla Novena
Starts: April 19th
Feast Day: April 28th

St. Peregrine Novena
Starts: April 22nd
Feast Day: May 1st

Our Lady of Fatima Novena
Starts: May 4th
Ends: May 13th

St. Rita of Cascia Novena
Starts: May 13th
Feast Day: May 22nd

St. Anthony Novena
Starts: June 4th
Feast Day: June 13th

Holy Spirit Novena
Starts: 10 days before Pentecost
Ends: on Pentecost

Novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus
Starts: June 19th
Ends: June 28rd

St. John the Baptist Novena
Starts: June 15th
Feast Day: June 24th

St. Josemaria Escriva Novena
Starts: June 17th
Feast Day: June 26th

Our Lady of Perpetual Help Novena
Starts: June 18th
Ends: June 27th

St. Maria Goretti Novena
Starts: June 28th
Feast Day: July 6th

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Novena
Starts: July 7th
Ends: July 16th

St. Anne Novena
Starts: July 17th
Feast Day: July 26th

St. John Vianney Novena
Starts: July 26th
Feastday: August 4th

Fourteen Holy Helpers Novena
Starts: July 30th
Feastday: August 8th

St. Clare of Assisi Novena
Starts: August 2nd
Feast Day: August 11th

St. Philomena Novena
Starts: August 2nd
Feast Day: August 11th

Mary Undoer of Knots Novena
Starts: August 6th
Feast: August 15th

St. Monica Novena
Starts: August 18th
Feast Day: August 27th

Our Lady of Sorrows Novena
Starts: September 6th
Feast: September 15th

Padre Pio Novena
Starts: September 14th
Feast Day: September 23rd

St. Michael the Archangel Novena
Starts: September 20th
Feast Day: September 29th

St. Raphael the Archangel Novena
Starts: September 20th
Feast Day: September 29th

St. Therese of Lisieux Novena
Starts: September 22th
Feast Day: October 1st

St. Francis of Assisi Novena
Starts: September 25th
Feast Day: October 4th

St. Teresa of Avila Novena
Starts: October 6th
Feast Day: October 15th

Pope St. John Paul II Novena
Starts: October 13th
Feast Day: October 22nd

St. Jude Novena
Starts: October 19th
Feast Day: October 28th

Novena for the Holy Souls in Purgatory
Starts: October 24th
Feast: November 2nd

St. Martin of Tours Novena
Starts: November 2nd
Feast Day: November 11th

St. Cecilia Novena
Starts: November 13th
Feast Day: November 22nd

St. Francis Xavier Novena
Starts: November 24th
Feast Day: December 3rd

Immaculate Conception Novena
Starts: November 29th
Feast: December 8th

St. Andrew Christmas Novena
Starts: November 30th
Feast: December 25th

Our Lady of Guadalupe Novena
Starts: December 3rd
Feast: December 12th

Holy Family Novena
Starts: Nine days before the Feastday

Happy New Year! Need a new patron saint?

We discovered Jen Fulwiler’s Saint & Word Generator a few years ago It’s become a new tradition (is that an oxymoron?) in my family during the first few days of the new year to find a saint to both inspire and watch over us during the challenges and surprises of the upcoming year. We also use her word generator for the same purpose (sort of).

My saint? Saint Ambrose of Milan who is patron of bee keepers and learners. As a homeschool Mom, I can get behind the learning and, by an interesting coincidence, Matt and I have been talking about including more pollinator flowers in our garden this spring to help the falling bee population. Kind of cool!

He is also one of the first four doctors of the Church and developed the antiphonal chant. He has many good quotes but I have found two new favorites:

“It is not enough to just wish well, we must also do well.”


“As in paradise, God walks in the scriptures, seeking man.”

My word is MEET – not sure where that will take me but I do love meeting new people. Inspired by St. Ambrose, I’m going to see about adding a bit more Scripture reading to my prayer time in order to meet God who walks there.

Check it out for you and your family; perhaps as an activity at your next club meeting.

(The Crucifix above is from St. Joseph’s Nursing Home in Catonsville, MD where Matt’s mother, Mary, now resides. It is quite large, tucked high near the ceiling between the air vents – which you can see – and is only visible as you walk away from the altar in front. I saw it only after receiving Communion when we went there for Mass with her recently. It was really quite profound as it caught my eye. The blue is stunning and its placement cannot be coincidental.)

Novena for Healing

As many of you may know, especially all the wonderful moms that we have met at Mary’s Garden Party Camps, Behold Publications is a family-owned company. My son, Joe, the oldest of our ten children, and I partner together to co-own the company. We have many helpers that aid us in getting products and materials together, as well as help with the camps. Those helpers are primarily the Little Flower creator, Rachel Watkins, her daughters as well as my own daughters. We homeschool our children, so I typically work only part-time since I still have three left at home. My son, however, works full-time, and then some, to meet your needs and the needs of your groups.

Our company has been such a blessing to our family, and I hope our products have been a blessing to you. I would like to share with you and ask for your prayers for my husband, Bob, who is battling stage 4 aggressive neuroendocrine rectal cancer since July, 2018. He has had two major surgeries, three different lines of chemo and radiation and is on his fourth line of chemo (actually a targeted therapy). The cancer continues to spread aggressively and rapidly.

We were able to take a Pilgrimage to New Orleans to the Shrine of Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos over his Feast Day weekend (Oct 4-6). Blessed Seelos is known for his healing intercessory powers and we were able to attend a very powerful healing Mass, where my husband received a blessing from Blessed Seelos’ first-class relic as well as the Sacrament of the Sick.

We picked up a Novena booklet in honor of Blessed Francis Seelos while in New Orleans and decided to start a novena of healing for my husband October 23 so that it will end on November 1, All Saints’ Day. If you would like to join us in this novena, we would be most appreciative! You can find the Novena prayers here:

Blessed Francis Seelos is very special to me since I wrote a book for children about him (Willy Finds Victory). If you are interested in learning more about Blessed Seelos, you can go to or click on the image of the book below to take you to the children’s story about Blessed Seelos.

If you are unable to pray the entire Novena with us, any amount of prayer would be greatly appreciated. We would also ask for your patience during sometimes difficult days when I have to take Bob to the specialist an hour and a half away for his infusions, or research the best way to deal with side-effects. We have ten children, five boys and five girls, ages 33 to 11. We have been married 35 years and have run this company for about 25 of those years.

If you wish to read more about Bob’s journey and details about his specific cancer, here is a link to his Caring Bridges page.  Thank you all for your work in the vineyard and especially thank you for your prayers.

Bless you in your work for His work!  Joan Stromberg

Don’t run out of gas!

I was out doing some errands and I passed the spot where I ran out of gas – literally – ran out of gas while driving in my big 15 passenger van with a few kids. Seeing that infamous spot got me laughing out loud.

Some time ago, we were headed around this corner and without any warning (ha! ha!), my van began slowing down despite my foot on the gas. In a small panic, I was able to pull off on the shoulder. I turned the van off, turned it back on and nothing!

Blessedly, we were close to home and I called my dh, described the situation and asked, ‘what do I do now?!?’. He asked me to turn the van back on and check the gas level.

Yep – my level was way past E – I had run out of gas! I was stunned. Honestly, without wanting to sound dimwitted, I sort of thought you couldn’t run out of gas.

Not really, of course, but both Matt and I are really good at keeping the gas tank full. We normally do it without really thinking of it. Matt often will top off my tank any time he drives my car. But, during the week of this public embarrassment, we both had been busier than usual and we hadn’t noticed the red light or the gauge falling below E. We were both too busy to notice the signs that our tank needed refilling.

He laughed without any sarcasm and told me he’d be right there. We happily waited knowing help was on the way.

Remembering this story made me think of how we can let neglect other areas of our life and run out of gas, in particular our prayer life.

If we aren’t regularly (read this as daily) putting fuel in our spiritual tank and soul, we will run out of what we need to get through the day. We will find ourselves feeling abandoned by God, jealous of other’s good fortune and, by association, more prone to anger and impatience with our spouse, children, friends and strangers in the store.

In other words, unless we work to keep Jesus in our souls, it is next to impossible to reflect Him and give Him to others. We cannot grow in holiness unless we are getting the fuel to do so.

How do we do this? Here’s some ideas:

  • Morning Prayer – use a prayer book, an app on your phone or a prayer written on your bathroom mirror. Wake each day with a prayer of thanksgiving to Jesus for another day as a reminder that He is always with you.
  • Daily Mass if possible; spiritual communion if not.
  • Gospel reading either as a part of Mass or on your own. Again, from your home Bible or an app or Daily Readings via
  • Daily Rosary – not to repeat myself but there are apps, videos at YouTube and you probably have a rosary (or 20) somewhere around the house
  • On-line Adoration – here’s my favorite site:
  • Prayer before you go to bed. Say goodnight to Jesus and your guardian angel, thanking them for another day.

And on and on and on – grace before and after meals, the Angelus, good spiritual reading, a favorite saint or novena, meditation with the help of a statue or art piece, bedtime prayers as a family and more. Our faith has a huge treasury of options for prayer!

Going back to my running out of gas story, it was made extra silly as I pass no less than 5 gas stations when doing my regular weekly errands. My town has gas stations on almost every major intersection. There was no reason I should have run out of gas except that I didn’t make it priority.

Make your daily prayer a priority. Keeping in touch with your Creator and Savior is something your soul needs every day even with no red light or gauge line to warn you that you risk going through life running on empty. But, how you are feeling and your attitude towards others is a great indicator. If you find yourself short-tempered, full of doubts, fears and worries think back on the last time you prayed – one on one – with Jesus. There is a direct correlation between getting the grace you need for daily life and the amount of time you spend in prayer. As the saying goes, ‘you can’t give what you don’t have’.

We are not religious who are called to hours of prayers but that doesn’t mean we aren’t called to no prayer. Consider how much time you spend on wasting time vs. prayer time (and the irony of reading this vs. praying is not lost on me). Find a balance between necessary obligations, responsibilities, amusements and idle time AND time spent with the God who made you and loves you.

Jesus is ready to hear your praise, your thanks, your worries and complaints. When you take time to be with Him you will find getting through every day life easier.

Keep an eye on your soul’s tank and keep it full so that your life is full!

Happy Feast Day to all of us!

St. Therese, Immaculate Conception, Elkton, MD

I always think of today as not only St. Therese’s feast day but the birthday of our little apostolate. Just 25+ years ago, the first Little Flowers met in my rowhome in Baltimore. Now, under the watchful eye of our Blessed Mother and through the intercession of St. Therese, we are now around the world in schools, parish basements and around kitchen tables such as yours.

Thank you for your work in the garden!

And, in case you didn’t get any roses during her novena, may I oblige?

Novena to the Little Flower

I am sorry for not posting this over the weekend but the first Little Flower, Saint Therese of Lisieux’s novena began yesterday. Please join me in praying this – especially for the intentions of the Stromberg family.

We know from the little way to holiness (God is full of love and mercy and we can never be perfect) that God will not ignore a fervent pray based on a date on a calendar!

Read more at:

Feast of St. Peter Claver – We are all called to do something!

Today we celebrate St. Peter Claver, a slave to the slaves of Cartagena in the years following his ordination in 1610.

I was struck by his life this morning while reading my Magnificat which says, ‘that while he could not free the slaves, he ministered to them….’.

Think on that for a moment – he could not free the slaves as he did not have the power or the funds to do so, but that did not prevent him from doing what he could. The problem of slavery was too complex for him to solve but that didn’t mean he couldn’t help. He did what he could.

Too often, I can find myself feeling helpless when confronted with a big, complicated situation and instead of doing what I can, I do nothing. From Hurricane Dorian to human trafficking I fight against feeling helpless and try to do what I can – pray and sacrifice – and leave the heavy lifting to God who can do all things –

Our responsorial psalm of today reminds us of His power and presence,

“Trust in him at all times, O my people!
Pour out your hearts before him;
God is our refuge!”

So, don’t get discouraged when the tough stuff hits the headlines or lands at your doorstep. St. Peter Claver is there for us and will join us in our prayers. Once again, he climb down into the ship’s hold to be at our side, doing what he can do – offer prayers, give comfort and remind us of God’s deep and abiding love!