Q. 1. From time to time, I come across a Novena that states if you say it so many times, or say it in a certain way, you will receive whatever you ask. Have you ever heard of such Novenas?
A. 1. Yes, indeed, there are many such Novenas being circulated. Just last Sunday, when attending Holy Mass at the local Church, I picked up a flyer that had two Novenas on it. The first one said:
"Say this prayer followed by Our Father and make 81 copies and leave nine copies in the church for nine consecutive days. You will receive your intention before the ninth day is over, no matter how impossible it may seem. Pray with faith."
The second Novena said,
Novena Prayer must be said six times each day for nine consecutive days leaving nine copies in the Church each day. Prayer will be answered on or before the ninth day and has never been known to fail..."
Q. 2. Is it true that these Novenas never fail?
A. 2. No, it is not true! No one, but God, can provide a guarantee that your prayer will be answered, no matter how simple or difficult your intention might be.
Novena means "nine each." It is a devotion consisting of nine separate days of prayers or services. Nothing else! It is not a guarantee. Nor was it meant to be a guarantee. The purpose of a devotion is to promote spiritual growth within you by encouraging you to have a prayerful daily relationship with God.
It does not matter if you say 3 Novenas at the same time over a period of 9 days. Nor does it matter if you print thousands of papers to promote the Novena. Such does not provide you with a guarantee that your prayer will be answered.
I am not saying that God, or the Saint that you are calling upon, shall not hear your pleas. Your pleas are heard. But, if God decides to withhold or limit His grace from you for whatever reason, that is His Divine right. In all cases, God's grace shines upon all those who pray with a sincere heart. They may not receive what they specifically ask for in their petitions, but they will receive graces and/or spiritual gifts that will benefit their spiritual growth in order to secure their salvation.
Those who promote Novenas as "magic," they are not doing the believers any favour. In fact, they are doing more harm than good. A depressed person, not having his/her prayer answered, may feel rejected by God. This could lead to the person rejecting his faith and consequently abandoning his going to Church. A broken promise is a lie! God never promised that Novenas will never fail. The Catholic Church never promised that Novenas will never fail. Such promises are made by overly-zealous persons who want to promote a certain devotion. And such promotion is done with total disregard of the spiritual damage that follows the promoting of deception. Satan will use any tools to destroy one's faith, even the promoting of magical Novenas, if such can achieve his goal.