The EWTN Global Catholic Network has organized a novena to the Virgin Mary for religious freedom in the U.S. to pray for the country ahead of the November elections.
Fr. Frederick Miller, chair of Systematic Theology at Mount St. Mary's Seminary in Emmitsburg, Md., composed the “Novena to the Mother of God for the Nation” in collaboration with the Catholic network.
“Catholics have always turned instinctively for help to the Mother of God in times of need,” Fr. Miller said in a Sept. 14 statement.
“And so, in 2012, we turn to Our Lady for help,” as American values like religious freedom “seem to be at risk.”
Michael P. Warsaw, president and CEO of EWTN, said he hoped “as many people as possible” will pray the prayer and tell their friends, neighbors, prayer groups and parishes about it.
“This is a critical time for our nation,” he underscored.
The nine-day prayer begins on Sept. 29 and leads up to the Feast of the Holy Rosary on Oct. 7.
The opening prayer reads: “We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our prayers in our necessities, but ever deliver us from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin.”
On each day of the novena, a leading Catholic bishop will celebrate Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel in Irondale, Ala. at 8 a.m. Eastern Time. Their homilies will emphasize the importance of prayer in defense of religious liberty. The bishops will lead the day’s novena prayers.
Participating bishops include Bishop-designate James D. Conley of Lincoln, Neb.; Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City; Archbishop Thomas J. Rodi of Mobile, Ala.; Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia; and Bishop Robert J. Baker of Birmingham, Ala.
The Incarnation, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is a focus of the novena, as is Mary’s “unique role” in mankind’s salvation, the prayer's introduction says.
The novena adds that along with religious freedom other “fundamental truths” are in danger. It named the right to life of the unborn child, the value of virginity until marriage and the virtue of chastity, the definition of marriage as a union of a man and a women and the responsibility to care for the disabled and elderly “until God calls them to himself.”
The novena said the proximity to the 2012 November election is an opportunity to pray for all government officials.
The novena is available in both English and Spanish. It is published at the special novena website www.religiousliberties.org/novena.