The Feast of the Immaculate Conception occurs in nine days time. This year, 8 December falls on the Second Sunday of Advent, so the feast has been translated to Monday 9 December.

That means — if you’re reading this on Sunday — that it’s not too late to start a novena in honour of our Lady!

If you’re not reading this on Sunday, and you’ve already missed the start of the novena, maybe that’s even better! We should never let the perfect become the enemy of the good. On the one hand, starting a novena late means you can’t do it perfectly, but on the other hand, it means you’re immunised against the old “D’Oh-I-forgot-to-pray-day-6-so-why-bother-praying-days-7-8-and-9” temptation. (I used to fall for that, until I realised that if I kept to it, I would never finish a novena in my life!)

There are many ways to pray a novena in honour of our Lady. Some novenas are ambitious. Nine daily Masses perhaps, for someone who doesn’t normally frequent daily Mass. Or nine daily rosarys, for someone who doesn’t normally pray a daily rosary.

Some novenas are modest. You could start and end each day with a Memorare. Or — my confessor suggested this one — you could place a holy card depicting our Lady on your desk so that you can glance at it from time to time and pray an aspiration. And each day of the novena, replace the image of our Lady.

I like this idea very much. I have heaps of holy cards, so it’s easy enough to do. But more to the point, it is simple and affectionate. The sort of thing a small child could do. What better way to honour and please our Blessed Mother?

Still, I won’t be at my desk much this week, so I won’t use it on this occasion. Instead, I’ll make use of this prepared text, which adapts the meditations of St Josemaría Escrivá. If you’d like to make a novena of daily reading, or a novena of daily meditation, then you might this useful too. (Just remember that the novena starts and ends one day later this year!)

Novena for the feast of the Immaculate Conception