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How to Make a Good Novena in the Spirit of Saint Alphonsus Liguori

In Saint Alphonsus Liguori's masterpiece The Glories of Mary, he gives instructions - in his chapter on devotion - on how to make a fervent and attentive novena for the various feasts of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  

With some slight modifications and adaptations, here are some suggestions on how to make a good novena in the spirit of Saint Alphonsus.  These instructions are more of an ideal rather than a “recipe” to follow.

The Most Recommended by Saint Alphonsus
  • Internal Mortifications: “abstaining from the indulgence of curiosity, either through the eye or the ear; remaining retired and silent; obeying, not answering with impatience; bearing contradictions, and other things of the sort”
  • “The most useful exercise is to propose, at the beginning, the amending of some fault into which we are most liable to fall. And to this end it is well,.., to ask pardon for some past sin, renew the intention of avoiding it in future” and of course to implore the help of our heavenly intercessor in this particular fault. 
To Imitate one of the virtues of Our Lord, Our Lady or Saint.

At the End of the Novena
  • To receive Holy Communion.
  • To ask pardon of our negligences and the grace to be more faithful in the coming year.
  • For the grace to die a good death.  

Some other suggestions from Saint Alphonsus
If marked with an * Saint Alphonsus recommends consulting a spiritual director first on these

  • To make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament and there to say your novena prayer.
  • To make 3 visits daily to a holy image or statue.
  • To make a certain number of acts of love daily (Saint Alphonsus recommends 150 to Jesus and Mary)
  • To read every day some work for a quarter of an hour, some book that treats on the particular Saint or devotion.
  • *To do some special external mortification for the length of the novena (fasting, hairshirt, discipline etc)
  • *Abstinence from certain agreeable food (like desserts or fruit) or chewing some bitter herb.
  • *On the vigil of the end of the novena, to fast on bread and water