An Autumn Rain

A Novena With the Blessed Virgin Mary

Day 3 – Bethlehem

Coming into God’s Presence

Before praying, we become aware of God’s presence in us and His desire for us to share that with the world.

He is the source of all our joy, freedom, peace, forgiveness, healing, goodness, and love. We take a moment to look at our lives and reflect on all He has done for us. Then, we recall the words of Jesus, “Go and do likewise.” He sends us out to be the “light of the world.” We allow God to fill us and then send us out to be His presence for the world.


+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Mary, you believed despite the hardships you endured

// Help us become vessels of God’s presence

Mary, you allowed God’s providence to guide your life

// Help us become vessels of God’s presence 

Mary, you fully embraced your role as Jesus’ mother

// Help us become vessels of God’s presence 

Jesus, You gave us an example of extreme humility

// Help us become vessels of God’s presence 

Jesus, You entered this world as a helpless baby

// Help us become vessels of God’s presence 

Jesus, You became the child of lowly parents

// Help us become vessels of God’s presence

Optional Study: God’s Presence in the World Through Us

For people who want to delve deeper in their knowlege of and love for Our Lady.

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Sacred Scripture – Incarnation

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Luke (2:15-19)

When the angels went away from them to heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go, then, to Bethlehem to see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.“ So they went in haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known the message that had been told them about this child. All who heard it were amazed by what had been told them by the shepherds. And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.

The Gospel of the Lord // Praise to You Lord Jesus Christ

Reading Options

Pope Paul VI, Homily for Christmas Day, 1971

The Lord is with You! Our attention […] is that of the historical, perceptible scene evoked by the Gospel of St. Luke who probably heard the story from Mary herself, the Mother, the heroine of the fact commemorated. It is the scene of the crib, the idyllic scene of the poor make-shift lodging chosen by the two pilgrims, Mary and Joseph, for the imminent event, a birth. Everything interests us here: the night, the cold, the poverty, the solitude; and, then, Heaven opening up, the incomparable message of the angels, the arrival of the shepherds. The imagination reconstructs the details; it is an Arcadian landscape which seems familiar to us, framing a story that holds us spell-bound.

St. Hilary of Poitiers, De Trinitate, bk. 2, 24

[T]he Son of God was born of the Virgin and the Holy Spirit for the sake of the human race. In so doing, he places himself at his own service and, overshadowing the Virgin with his power (that is, with the power of God), he planted the initial seed of his body and set up the beginning of his life in the flesh […] Behold the one, only begotten God, whose origin from God is absolutely inexpressible, planted like a seed in the womb of the holy Virgin, developing little by little, taking on the form of a tiny body. He who contains all things, in whom and through whom everything receives existence, behold he comes to light according to the human law of birth. He at whose voice archangels and angels tremble, at whose voice heaven, earth, and all the elements of this world are unraveled, hark, the sound of his newborn wailing! The Invisible and Ungraspable, before whom sight, senses, and touch proclaim their helplessness, wrapped up, in a cradle.

Interior Dialogue: Conversation Starters

We take time for a peaceful moment to converse with God.

Lord Jesus, You chose to be born incarnate, to make the Father known through You. And through the Spirit, You are also present in me. Where can I radiate Your presence in my life to someone around me? What obstacles in my life stop me from letting Your presence shine through me?

Pause for personal prayer

Lord Jesus, You have given me unique gifts, not for my own worldly successes and glory, but in order that I may use them to glorify You. Do I always give credit to You for my gifts and talents? How can I better use my talents to point to Your great love? 

Pause for personal prayer

Lord Jesus, do I believe that You live in my soul? Do I seek sanctity through fidelity to my responsibilities? Are there areas in my life where I fail to acknowledge Your presence?

Pause for personal prayer


God chose to use His Blessed Mother to make Himself present in this world. We look to her example of being an instrument of God’s love, as we pray

// Lord, fill us with Your presence

When God’s calling seems difficult to accept, that we would emulate Mary’s simple faith and perseverance. Let us pray

// Lord, fill us with Your presence

When we feel unworthy of being a part of God’s plans, that we would embrace our littleness and learn to offer ourselves to God as is. Let us pray

// Lord, fill us with Your presence

When we are burdened by everyday tasks, that we would remember how God chose to become a man like us, so that we can present our labors as an offering of love. Let us pray

// Lord, fill us with Your presence

Let us pause to ask God to show us where we can grow.

Silently add your own personal petitions.

Let us pray

// Lord, fill us with Your presence

A Traditional Prayer: Sub Tuum Praesidium

3rd Century, Egyptian Papyrus Scroll, Egypt

Together we pray

We fly to your patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin

Closing Prayer

Let us pray,

Holy Spirit, through Your power Jesus became flesh in the womb of the Virgin Mary. You filled her with the indwelling presence of God and transformed her into an instrument of God’s love.

We, too, have been filled with Your indwelling presence. Help us to make Your presence known through the faithful fulfillment of our ordinary responsibilities.

We ask this through Christ our Lord // Amen

+ In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Pray with Us

This novena is an attempt to summarize what the Church teaches about Mary’s role in our lives and what she means for the Church. It is an opportunity to enter into the real, concrete moments of her life, to experience the depth of her sorrow, sacrifice, and love, and to learn from her how to follow Jesus.

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Optional Study

Theme – God’s Presence in the World Through Us

God didn’t have to come into the world through Mary. He didn’t have to become human. He could have saved the world in any other way, and done it entirely by Himself. But He chose that it should be this way—He would become present in the world through Mary. The truth is, God doesn’t need any of us, including Mary. But in His wisdom and love He chooses to work through us. This means that it is our responsibility to cooperate. Holiness is often more about letting the Lord work through us than it is about us working for the Lord. The world doesn’t need us, it needs Him. We are meant to become a pure piece of glass through which the Lord’s light can shine. Mary does this to perfection, which is why she can exclaim “My soul magnifies the Lord”.

Doctrine – Mediatrix of All Graces

It’s astonishing that God allowed the salvation of the world to depend on the response of Mary. He could have had a backup plan, but He allowed this crucial moment to depend on the decision of a young girl. God could have done it alone, but He allows Mary to participate in bringing His salvation to everyone. He wants it this way. He wants to give His grace to the world through the cooperation of other people. This is what we mean when we say that Mary is the Mediatrix of all graces. It isn’t because she did something special or because God had no other choice. It is a sign of how God wants to bring His grace and love to the world. In the words of St. Bonaventure, “For as through her, God came down to us, so it is right that through her we should ascend to God” (De Nativit, III).

Personal Takeaway 

God also wants us to be a part of His plan. He asks us to be instruments, to share His grace with the world, to shower down the autumn rain for others in the midst of life’s trials. It is through our particular, unique talents and struggles that we are all called to share God’s grace with others. This can be hard! To be an instrument of God’s grace isn’t some romantic ideal. To love in this way requires docility and humility. The Lord will ask us to be transformed into the instrument He wants us to be. Often He does this through suffering. He uses it to purify us. Suffering can become a gift that takes away everything in us that isn’t God. So like Mary, our soul can magnify the Lord.