The Lenten Season is nearly over and Easter is fast approaching. As discussed in a previous article, No More Chocolate or Beer… What?!, my Lenten offering has been to pray the Rosary daily. When you make such an offering or sacrifice the intent is to grow in spirit and faith over a 40 day period. While I feel that I have grown in faith, I have also realized a few other things along the way. I realized my Grandmother is pretty near Sainthood, I could use some work, and the little old lady at the church missed her true calling.
My grandmother is simply awesome! She said the Rosary every day for as long as I can remember. She was not a “Cradle Catholic” meaning born into the faith, she converted to Catholicism when she was in her thirties. She had tried many other places of worship but always felt that the Catholic Church was home. She was very devoted to worship and practicing her faith. The Rosary was her daily ritual of prayer and meditation. She offered up her prayers for special needs or those in purgatory. As children, we participated with her in saying the Rosary and I am eternally grateful for that memory. Even now as I recite these familiar prayers, I can hear her praying with me. I admire her for her patience. Here at our home over the past weeks, my children have participated in this meditation period and it truly takes a level of patience to teach them how to follow along. I find it to be a very peaceful experience. One evening, my sister walked in while we were praying as a family and she chimed right in with us. Thank you, Grandma for a truly rich blessing of faith and family.
Though my spirit is willing, my flesh is weak. Many times I haven’t gotten to this beautiful prayer until bedtime…not a great time to be in a meditative, prayerful, chant-like expression of devotion if you are planning on staying awake. I openly admit, there have been a few times that I fell asleep only to wake up later still holding a bead. Usually, if did go to slumber-land I managed to get to the fourth decade (The Rosary is made up of 5 sections of beads each with 1 Our Father and 10 Hail Mary’s – a bead for each prayer). The other night I don’t think I even got to the 7th bead before I started drifting and mixing up my prayers, ” Our Father who art in Heaven, Holy Mary Mother of God…” not good. It was then that I had another profound epiphany…
As children, we would attend Mass with Grandma and arrive 20 minutes early just to say the Rosary. It was led by an elderly woman (I can still hear her voice). Most of the time, it sounded as though you were at an auction:
“HAIL Mary, full of gracetheLordiswithyoublessedarethouamoungwomen….”
I think it was so she could stay awake! I have found myself, on occasion, resorting to the auctioneer mode of prayer so I could say it to the end. I didn’t want to fall asleep, I wanted to complete the whole prayer. Did I feel bad about this weakness? Of course! However, I felt even better when I completed the entire Rosary! In some ways, it is like a race (hear me out) you begin strong, full of energy, then the routine kicks in and you lose momentum. Finally, you get your last burst of energy and you pull through to the finish! This is huge. You would completely miss out on that exhilarated feeling if you gave up somewhere in between. At the end of each Rosary session I feel exhilarated, closer to God and happy. After sharing this experience with a few fellow Catholics, I found I wasn’t the only one who had witnessed the auctioneer style from the little old lady in the Church. I feel comforted in my fellowship.
The beauty of the Rosary, if said with reflection, is that you grow in faith and appreciation of Christ’s sacrifice and the beauty of his Life, Death and Resurrection. Easter is around the corner and I have to say that this daily meditation has impacted me on a very large-scale. It brings us together as a family to pray, it causes me to take pause and be grateful, I find peace in reflecting on the words of the Rosary and it is a reminder that God works miracles in our daily lives. This experience has not been an offering or sacrifice but a blessing. It is also something I plan on continuing. Through prayer, we can meditate on peace, healing, forgiveness, gratitude, giving, kindness and many private prayers of need. It is not less that we need, but more. Maybe I can continue my Grandmother’s legacy and pass this gift to my children. I know her prayers were, and continue to be, part of our family’s protective barrier in life. Maybe she was onto something.