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The Novena of Grace

Please note 2024 date change: February 26th thru March 5th 

Weekday Novena at Noon & 6:00 pm, Saturday & Sunday at Noon with a livestream planned for Noon

We are delighted that Father Victor Cancino, S.J. and Mayra Martinez will be our co-presenters

Theme: “What Are You Looking For?” : An Invitation to Wholeness by Praying with the Psalms

We are so blessed to have Father Victor Cancino, S.J. and Mayra Martinez as our presenters for the Novena of Grace. Father Victor is the Pastor in Residence at St. Ignatius Mission and a member of our Ravalli Jesuit Community in Missoula. Mayra is the Pastoral Assistant in St. Ignatius, whose primary ministry is with the Sacred Heart community in Arlee.

The theme they have selected for the Novena comes from the Gospel of John (1:38) What are you looking for?: An Invitation to Wholeness by Praying with the Psalms.

Jesus’s question to His would-be disciples John and Andrew is the same one He asks each of us who seek Him: “What are you looking for?” It is such a fitting question for the Novena of Grace. What are you looking for from these nine days of Eucharist, prayer, reflection, and retreat? Are you looking to sustain a life of service and discipleship? Something else, perhaps?

We invite you to ask yourself “What am I looking for?” and allow the life and love of Jesus, along with the inspiration of St. Francis Xavier, to inform your response.

May this Novena of Grace be a time of seeking and finding what your heart most desires.

 

Father C. Hightower, S.J.,

Pastor

 

 Although the Novena of Grace is a Catholic prayer tradition in Jesuit communities, it is open to people of all faiths. It affords all who participate time to reflect, and to open one’s self to God’s Spirit and the healing grace that rejuvenates and transforms our lives.

Thank you for joining us.

History of the Novena

The Novena of Grace, which begins March 4th and ends on the 12th, the day of the canonization of St. Francis Xavier, owes its origin to the Saint himself. At. Naples, in December, 1633, Father Marcello Mastrilli, S.J. was at the point of death. The Saint appeared to him and, bidding him renew a vow he had made to labor in Japan, said:

PROMISE: “All those who implore my help daily for nine consecutive days, from the 4th to the 12th of March included, and worthily receive the Sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist on one of the nine days, will experience my protection and may hope with entire assurance to obtain from God any grace they ask for the good of their souls and the glory of God.”

The priest arose, instantly healed. So well has the Saint kept this promise that this devotion in his honor has universally known as the Novena of Grace.

The Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) Retreat

 SEEL Retreat Application

Do you sense that God is calling you into a deeper relationship? If so, we invite you to consider the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (SEEL) retreat designed for busy people like you.

Even people with families and who work full time can have this profoundly transformative experience because it takes place within the midst of everyday life from September to mid-May.

The Spiritual Exercises are a series of prayer, meditations, and reflections – incorporating thought, memory, and imagination – created by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the 16th century founder the Society of Jesus, the Jesuits.

The goal is the attainment of spiritual freedom; the power to act – not out of social pressure, personal compulsion or fear – but out of the promptings of the Holy Spirit in the deepest, truest core of your being – to act ultimately out of love. 

The heart of the retreat is daily prayer, often starting with 30 minutes and gradually working up to an hour. It also includes weekly meetings with an experienced spiritual director, and monthly retreat evenings in which you learn about the Spiritual Exercises and have time for faith sharing with other retreatants in small groups.

There’s no cost to participate. St. Francis Xavier Parish subsidizes the cost of the retreat as part of our commitment to the spiritual life of the parish and community.

The application deadline is the end of August, and seats are limited, so please don’t wait to apply. Here is the online application link: SEEL Retreat Application.

What Retreatants have said About The SEEL Retreat

“I prayed about the SEEL retreat for months, but didn’t apply until the last minute because I thought I was too busy. Then I thought, “If not now, when?” I didn’t want to let another year go by without it.” 

“I thought about making the SEEL retreat for years, each time finding a reason for not doing it. This year I just decided to do it. Through the retreat, I experienced the reality that, within a life that is busy and at times challenging, God’s love prevails.” 

“I got to know Jesus through the retreat, which has changed everything. I finally feel at home in my own skin as a Christian and realize the immense freedom that lies in being the person God created me to be. I came away from the retreat with a spiritual toolkit that will last a lifetime.” 

“My husband and I recently moved here to be near our kids and to retire. The Spirit led me to SEEL as a way to examine my calling in this next phase of life. My spiritual director helped me to discern God’s will and to put it into action.” 

“I seized the opportunity to participate in SEEL. It was a transition time for me and I wondered, ‘What is God’s plan as I enter the next stage of my life?’ The discernment process of the Spiritual Exercises was invaluable in deciding to pursue an advanced degree.” 

“I had felt adrift, as if the anchors that held my life in place had lost their hold. SEEL provided a framework to see my life in a new way, regain a sense of direction and meaning, and develop a deeper relationship with Christ. The goal of SEEL is not to increase head knowledge, but to change the heart. It did!” 

“The SEEL retreat has been one of the most positive influences on my life. It has helped me feel more at peace by exploring my faith in creative, imaginative ways, and providing the structure to do so.” 

“In the course of the Spiritual Exercises, I developed an intimate, trusting relationship with Jesus that I didn’t know I was missing. Imagining myself with Jesus, talking with Jesus, was a highlight of the retreat.” 

“I wanted to make the SEEL retreat because I knew God wanted to take me to a new place spiritually and I wanted to be able to hear and respond to what God was offering me. Now I see God’s activity in my everyday life.” 

“SEEL was a way to reconnect with my First Love. Through SEEL I found my best self. I also found a richer faith than I knew before. Making my spiritual life a priority helped me get other aspects of my life under control again.” 

“I am so much closer to Jesus now than any other time in my life. I feel gratitude and joy in ways that I never imagined possible.”

“It took a while before the daily prayer periods began to flow naturally. But then coming to know that God is with me, and in me, and listening to me at all times has given me an immense amount of peace and calm, and a lot less fear.” 

“This was what I had been searching for my whole life. It is difficult to feel like I belong in the Church as a single woman. I don’t fit into the usual categories or groups. I didn’t have a prayer life. And I had confined my relationship with God to a future ‘something’. Now I know that I have Christ’s love. It is not ‘someday’ or an ‘eventuality’. It is today.” 

“SEEL was the perfect way to find companions in spirituality and reconnect with God. Now I crave prayer. At first I was thinking that my prayer should look a certain way. I soon learned, however, that prayer does not have one ‘right’ way.” 

“As a result of the retreat, I no longer worry about the future, or the past. I trust my whole life to Jesus Christ. The SEEL retreat was a journey of a lifetime, one I will never forget. I doubt it will ever be ‘over’.” 

“I wanted to enrich my relationship with God through prayer. I now turn to prayer more readily in times of frustration, gratitude, happiness, friendship and love. I recognize God’s presence in almost everything I do and everyone I see. This gives me great joy.” 

“My favorite part of the SEEL retreat was meeting with my spiritual director. I have always talked to God – and I see Jesus in my family, friends, and my music ministry – but to be able to share completely about all of that with my retreat director was truly amazing.” 

“I encourage anyone seeking a closer relationship with God to make the SEEL retreat. No one feels ready, but everyone ends the retreat feeling closer to God.” 

“Someone once said, ‘If you give the Lord an hour a day He will knock your socks off.’ That was certainly true for me. If God is nudging you, I encourage you to step out in faith and apply. Just hold onto your socks!”

Grant Awarded to Spiritual Ministry!
Several months ago St. Francis Xavier Parish applied for a grant from the Foundation for the Diocese of Helena to support the Spiritual Exercises in Everyday Life (S.E.E.L.) program within our Spirituality Ministry.  We are pleased to announce that in August we received a grant award totaling $5,000.   The grant will allow Luke Larson, our Director of Spirituality and S.E.E.L, to enroll in the Advanced Certificate in Supervision program in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University.  Graduates of Fordham’s Advanced Certificate in Supervision program are prepared to offer spiritual formation opportunities and supervision across a wide variety of ministerial settings, such as spiritual direction formation programs, retreat centers, campus ministry programs, schools, and parishes.  
 
We wish to thank the Foundation for the Diocese of Helena for their generosity and Luke for his willingness to further his education for the benefit of St. Francis Xavier Parish when he begins the program in the 2023-2024 school year.  
Want to Learn More?
The Foundation for the Diocese of Helena exists “to serve and strengthen the people, parishes, ministries and apostolic mission of the Diocese of Helena.”  Over many years and in many ways the Foundation for the Diocese of Helena has provided financial support to parishes and ministries, St. Francis Xavier Parish among them.  You are invited to learn more about the Foundation and its good works by reading the latest newsletter.  In it you will find important information about the Foundation as well as a message from Daniel Thiess, the Executive Director.
The Challenge Program

Challenge is an adaptation of the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius of Loyola developed by Father Mark Link, S.J.

Participants pray with a short daily reflection, keep a journal of their prayer, and meet weekly with fellow retreatants for support and faith sharing.

There is no cost to participate.

If you have questions about Challenge, please do not hesitate to contact Bev at bevfrohlich@gmail.com.

An invitation to join “CHALLENGE” – a commitment of just 10-15 minutes a day to pray and meditate on scripture. Then reflect in prayer, with a small support group based off of the ‘SEEL retreat’ which will meet weekly from Noon to 1:30pm in the dining room of the Parish office beginning September 19, 2023 “Challenge” is great if you’re not ready for the ‘SEEL retreat’, or if you have already experienced the SEEL retreat and would like to continue in a small faith sharing group. More information will be given at our first gathering. Facilitators: Beverly Frohlich 406.240.2704 and Patricia Baker 307.851.8339

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