Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Do We Really Want to Be Storming the Heavens?

A Guest Post by Dovid Shlomo

With all the calls for us to "Storm the Heavens," as in "Yidden are storming the heavens to grant rachamim as four gedolim are now hospitalized," ( and  "Let us all, wherever and whoever we are, storm the heavens on February 20" (, I decided to find something out about the origin of the phrase.

What is a Storm Novena?

A Storm Novena consists of nine visits to the Blessed Sacrament in one day, praying on one's knees, and with outstretched arms, to obtain a speedy and unfailing answer to prayer. The Franciscan sisters mentioned above, define it in these terms: "Storm" means a sudden, forceful assault in the shape of ardent prayers on heaven at the throne of our divine Lord, so that he(sic) will take immediate note and answer them readily. One, so to say, storms heaven with implicit confidence, in accordance with the Gospel story recorded in Saint Luke 11:5-13, which reads: "Let us suppose that one of you has a friend to whom he goes at the dead of night, and asks him, 'Lend me three loaves of bread, neighbor. A friend of mine has turned in to me after a journey, and I have nothing to offer him.' And suppose the other answers from within the doors, 'Do not put me to such trouble; the door is locked, my children and I are in bed; I cannot bestir myself to grant the request.' I tell you, even if he will not bestir himself to grant it out of friendship, shameless asking will make him rise and give his friend all that he needs. And I say the same to you; knock, and the door shall be opened for you. Everyone that asks, will receive; that seeks, will find; that knocks, will have the door opened to him. Among yourselves, if a father is asked by his son for bread will he give him a stone? Or for a fish, will he give him a snake instead of a fish? Why then, if you, evil as you are, know well enough how to give your children what is good for them, is not your Father much more ready to give, from heaven, his Holy Spirit to those who ask him?" Thus man has power over God.

It is performed on our knees to indicate our total helplessness and dependence on God; with extended arms - similar to Moses, who, as long as he prayed with extended arms, sustained his army in fighting successfully; then also to remind the heavenly Father of his divine Son on the cross - in virtue of which all our prayers have their power, whether they be expiation, reconciliation, adoration, or pleadings for help. Praying with extended arms was a favorite manner of prayer employed by Saint Francis of Assisi in memory of our crucified savior. When Saint Gertrude asked our Lord to teach her how to pray so as to commemorate his passion, our Lord answered. "When you pray, spread forth your hands so as to represent to God the Father the memory of my passion, in union with that love with which I stretched out my hands on the cross; and if you do this habitually, without fear of ridicule or reproach, you will pay me an honor as great as is shown to a king when he is solemnly enthroned."

"The prayer of him that humbleth himself shall pierce the clouds." (Eccl. 35:31)

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