By: John Sohl, November, 2021
“The Way of Trust” 54-Day Rosary Novena is a great gift to Family Renewal Project and the Archdiocese of Louisville as a whole — and (by God’s grace) far, far beyond! Since introducing “The Way of Trust” over a year ago, the Lord has utterly astonished us and it is a direct result of trusting in God, not in ourselves. This effort of consistent, daily prayer is the foundation upon which everything we do is built and from which our greatest support flows. As Saint John Paul II was known to say, “Sincerely say, ‘Jesus, I trust in You’ and you will find comfort in all anxiety and fears.”
So why a 54-day novena and where did such an idea originate?
In 1884, a young girl named Fortuna Agrelli experienced intense pains and cramps that no doctor could cure. She and her family were led to pray a novena for her healing. As they prayed, Mother Mary appeared to young Fortuna with a message of healing and hope for her family and the rest of the world. Fortuna relayed that the Blessed Mother instructed that three consecutive novenas be prayed in petition followed by three additional novenas in thanksgiving — regardless of whether our requests had been granted and trusting in God’s will. A single novena is nine days, if we do three novenas that’s 27 days in petition, followed by 27 days in thanksgiving — trusting that God will grant our requests based on His perfect will for us. This is the essence of The Way of Trust 54-Day Rosary Novenas that FRP has introduced. We hope you will unite with us on our fifth novena “The Way of Trust Christmas Novena 2021” which began on November 2 and continues until Christmas Day, December 25. IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO JOIN! [Sign up HERE or join The Way of Trust Facebook group]
As a man, I’ve never experienced the intense physical pains that young Fortuna had to endure, though I’ve definitely had my fair share of pain & frustrations and just like Fortuna, I’ve come to recognize our dependence on and trust in God’s plans for our lives! For years I had served as a committed and hardworking parish youth minister, this is how I identified myself and what I thought I was supposed to do; but when my pastor announced his retirement at the brink of the pandemic, I sensed the Spirit was moving me to make a bold change. Joining as a full-time team member of Family Renewal Project on April 1, 2020 has been a Godsend, though I had no idea how profound nor how quickly He would make that clear to me.
As the world began locking-down and fear, chaos, and confusion seemed to have a grip on humanity, my dear friend and colleague, Cathy Blandford gently guided our Team to put aside the goals & action steps outlined in the strategic plan we had completed only a few months before and to place our hopes and the mission of FRP into God’s hands.
As our Team brainstormed, “The Way of Trust” naturally began to emerge as we discovered that during the same weeks in 2016 (just after FRP was founded, but before all of us even knew one another) — while I was organizing a youth ministry event at my parish under the patronage of St. Therese of Lisieux’s “Little Way of Childhood Trust”, Cathy was simultaneously leading her parish in a 54-day novena prior to the presidential election, as an act of trust in God’s will for the future of our nation and world. Yes, the Spirit was moving within our FRP team long before we would come to realize our role in His plan.
In August 2020, we launched “The Way of Trust 54-Day Rosary Novena”. Every day for 54 days we invited 54 different couples, families, and individuals to record themselves praying the rosary to share with our Louisville community. The response was overwhelming and unprecedented. Daily reflections via email became a staple of this effort, and great healing and peace naturally resulted from these weeks of prayer and trust in God as thousands of people from all over the world participated with us.
As the novena drew to a close we weren’t ready for it to end and the people begged for more! We offered the 54-day Christmas novena, followed by the 54-day Pentecost novena. Praying the rosary every day for 54 days seems like a daunting task, but in so doing, it solidified our commitment to trusting God, not ourselves.
“The Way of Trust” has rightfully become the foundation to the entire work of Family Renewal Project. After all, as the old saying goes, “The family that prays together, stays together” and if we are going to fulfill the mission of this apostolate, that of restoring the family, then prayer is certainly the foundation on which to build!
Relying on Mother Mary’s intercession of course has been the key to this success, for She bears within Her womb the Ultimate Grace of her Son Jesus. He is the Source of it all, and by meditating upon the mysteries of His Infancy, Ministry, Death, and Resurrection–we too can receive the gift of bodily redemption and resurrection. Like Mother Mary’s Assumption into Heaven, body and soul, as well as the Annunciation leading up to Christmas, we too can participate in God’s saving action by praying The Way of Trust as we make our little humble way to our homeland in Heaven.
We are praying for each and every one of you. May God bless you and your families!