Why is the Church promoting our faithful to do novena with fixed prayers and such prayers usually fall into fixed number of days, such as 3, 8, 9, 33? Which novenas would you recommend?
Fr. Francis' answer:
Novenas are always nine days, since the word’s very meaning is “nine days”. It originated from Acts 1, as Mary and the 120 disciples waited in the Upper Room in Jerusalem to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit as Jesus commanded them. From Ascension to Pentecost was exactly nine days.
The Holy Spirit novena therefore was the first novena of the Church. Afterwards, many other devotion took after the format: nine days, not too long and not too short. And typically, such novenas were prayed in community, so there is a need to have common text so everybody can pray the same words together.
“As for novenas to recommend, I would say that first you should get to know the saints. Once you get to know one, if his or her life speaks to you, you might be drawn to practice a deeper devotion by offering a novena through the saint.”