Can novenas be created by lay people or do they come from the magisterium?
Jake in Springfield
The word novena takes its origin from the Latin word novem, meaning “nine.” Consequently, a novena is a series of nine prayers prayed for a specific intention either individually or with a group of the faithful. While the origin of novenas is traditionally seen in the nine days between the Ascension of the Lord and Pentecost, a novena can be prayed over nine days, nine weeks, nine months, or presumably even over nine years (though such a novena might be hard to keep track of).
The Church does not have, so far as I am aware, any specific legislation governing novenas. Because a novena can be as simple as praying nine Our Fathers, it is possible for a layperson to create a novena for his or own purposes, provided, of course, that the prayers used or in the intention behind the novena are not contrary to the faith. Such a novena would be for private use.
If a layperson creates a novena and intends it to be for public use, such a novena should be presented to the local bishop for his consideration and approval. He may grant permission for its private use or for its public use, as he judges fit.
Father Daren Zehnle is pastor at St. Augustine in Ashland; parochial administrator of St. Alexius, Beardstown, St. Fidelis, Arenzville, and St. Luke, Virginia; and is the director for the Office of Divine Worship and the Catechumenate for the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.