The Storm Novena

I apologize for taking so long to write this post. It's been about a week in the making, and required me to start over several times. What started off as a critique of this dated prayer has turned into an objective presentation...for reasons I will describe later on. -V

In a previous post, I made reference to a book called "The Storm Novena." The authors are credited as two friars from the St. Joseph Province of Capuchins: Edmund Kramer & Sylvester Brielmaier. This prayer has not been used here at St. Benedict's since probably the 1960's, and a quick glance through the booklet shows how dated it is (despite it's most recent printing in 2007.)

The history behind this prayer is still cloudy. I've heard some experiences from the older friars, but I've yet to speak about it with any of the alumni of St. Ben's, possibly pictured here, kneeling and raising their hands. However here are the things that I can say with a sense of positivity:

1. The prayer is not from the Capuchins or the Franciscan tradition, nor is it from any cultural background of anyone in the order. Many of the people in this area have German heritage, and none claim to have known anything like it before. While the book claims that two sisters from Vienna brought it to St. Ben's, it also claims it was used for people dying, "especially that of a dying, impenitent socialist." Realistically, my history tells me it came from one of the numerous groups of sisters that came to help teach at St. Ben's: Dominicans, Notre Dame Sisters, School Sisters of St. Francis, etc.

2. It's tough getting donors for a poor, black church, school, and hospital. The Miller family (Miller Brewing, Inc.) had always been gracious and supportive of St. Ben's, even when it was first built, however to maintain the ministries that existed in the 1940's required serious fundraising. I cannot say what exactly happened, but the friars I spoke with remember the children praying for the benefactors' needs, not simply their own.

3. The prayer is no longer used at St. Ben's, and will probably not be used again for some time. Like any other urban parish, the ministry of the church changes with the needs of the community. Many in this community are homeless, suffer from substance addictions, have mental or emotional issues, struggle to live above the poverty line, or reside in one of the surrounding three correctional facilities. Much of the work done at St. Benedict the Moor Church is focused on social justice.

I've had mixed feeling about talking about this prayer, simply because it is not who we are anymore. While the greatest ministry we offer grew out of the time when Vatican II was happening, this is the age of the "JP2 Generation." This book regarding the Storm Novena is extremely dated, referring to the "colored children" and "little Negroes" often, however it is part of the history of this church. While I'd like to just toss this book by the side, because of it's language or because I think it was used as a way to raise money for the schools, there is a part of history here and I've already experienced the fact that certain people are moved by that history.

So with that in mind, I've decided to do what would be the most "Capuchin" thing to do. Tomorrow I will reprint the storm novena for all to use. You may copy it, print it out, and use it however for whatever intention you have. I will include the instructions on how to pray it as well. I want to do this because I realize that while I, or even the current parish of St. Benedict the Moor, may no longer find spiritual value in this prayer, I know there are others who find this type of prayer to be very helpful. I also realize that for it to simply hide would be a disservice to others who look for spiritual meaning.

Therefore instead of paying the $5.95 for the book (which doesn't even go to the parish or the now-closed schools here in Milwaukee), I will post the entire prayer and instructions freely for all to use. If you find it beneficial to your prayer life, or if you find that God grants your request through this prayer, then may God bless you. The only thing we ask at St. Ben's is to keep us and the homeless, working poor, the imprisoned, the addicted, and the down-trodden in your prayers.




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4 Response to The Storm Novena

July 5, 2009 at 8:45 PM

It's hard to take issue with a devotion that calls for frequent visits to the Blessed Sacrament! I can personally attest to the power of visits to the Blessed Sacrament: how much Jesus accomplishes in us if we only just present ourselves to Him and let Him do what needs to be done. Sometimes He allows a temporal misfortune to befall us in order to make us go to Him so that He can fix the even more serious spiritual disorder.

I have an old copy of the Storm Novena booklet somewhere. Since I don't now know where that is, I'm very glad you have posted the prayer. I have tweaked it a little to suit my own personal devotions.

The very best prayer, of course, after Holy Mass and adoration, is surely the Rosary. If only more of us prayed the Rosary, as the Blessed Mother asked at Fatima.

July 7, 2009 at 9:36 AM
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July 7, 2009 at 9:38 AM

Thank you for your reflections. I'm glad to know that the Novena is something that will benefit you in your personal prayer life.

I hope this continues to provide for your spiritually, and that you share it with those who you feel may also benefit.

Peace and all good,
Br. Vito

Personally I prefer a Rosary or contemplation =)

Vli
December 21, 2010 at 8:15 PM

I have been praying the Storm Novena for several weeks and will continue to do so daily. I also say a rosary at least most days of the week. I found this novena when I was desperately seeking peace and this has brought me great comfort and the requests are being addressed. One was nothing short of a full blown miracle. I promised to sing the praises of our Lord Jesus, His Father, Mother Mary and the Holy Spririt to anyone that would listen. The Storm Novena IS a powerful prayer and saying the rosary is also powerful prayer. Where I disagree with Anita is that I beleive the Lord is the source of every good gift and failing to follow His lead or listen to His guidance is usually the source of our misfortune. Thankfully as a loving God he never turns his back on us nor does our Mother Mary!