Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Amazing Mary, Full of Grace

It was Thursday, March 6 when I heard the news that my sister-in-law's father had passed away. My prayers were immediately with her, knowing the pain and sorrow she was feeling since my own mother had passed away a year ago. I headed to a store to buy a condolence card, not sure if I was going to be able to make the two-hour drive in for the funeral, especially with a large snow storm heading in our direction. But I wanted her to know I was thinking of her.

On Friday, March 7, a door opened. I didn't know a door was opening at that moment; which is usually the case when something that we don't understand is born anew in our life. It is only in reflection that we realize with surprise, Oh, that's when it began...

On Friday, March 7, 2008, I prayed the Rosary for the first time in almost thirty years.

When I look at it, I can attribute it to nothing less than the grace of God. I remembered sitting at my desk with this overwhelming need to pray the Rosary for my sister-in-law and just being stunned. Stunned. Why am I feeling impressed to pray through a bunch of beads repetitively when I had renounced such a ritual back when I was 20? Why was I feeling this urge when I had decided that such rituals were close to idolatry decades ago?

All I knew at that moment was that I felt I should do it. I felt "prompted by the Spirit" as some of my Christian brothers and sisters would say. And aside from the fact that some may question the validity of praying the Rosary, the bottom line was that I was feeling prompted and my spirit knew better than to ignore it. And that was how I ended up kneeling at the bed, holding the rose-scented beads of a rosary given to my mother from her niece who brought them back from the Vatican; murmuring the ancient prayers.

I will honestly tell you that although I was praying the Rosary, I wasn't involved with it wholeheartedly. I was praying with a "I-hope-this-is-actually-accomplishing-something" attitude. I was uncertain, full of both doubt and incredulity. How on earth did a woman who had led so many Bible studies within a non-denominational church and involved in so many ministries, come to this?

She came to it by grace. She came to it by trust.

After I prayed it, I felt as though I had obeyed something but not quite comprehending what it could be.

Not too long after that, I received a call from one of my first cousins, who is just incredibly smart but incredibly full of anxiety. Much too much for her age. After talking to her, I ended up doing an internet search for Catholic sites that could help her. Now mind you, at this time I was in the midst of my own private resistence against the pull toward coming home. Still, I found a few good sites that I thought would encourage her and sent them on. Then I felt it again, a prompting to pray the Rosary for my cousin. This time, I went to a local parish and entered the sanctuary. I pulled down the kneeler and began to pray.

I was surprised at how quickly praying the Rosary went for me. It felt good after I finished. The silence of the church seemed to affirm that what was done, was done. Prayers had been heard. Petitions granted. Strength and courage released.

This was the beginning of my praying the Rosary, which I am now doing almost everyday. We have a radio station in town that broadcasts Mother Angelica praying the Rosary with her sisters from 7:30-8:00 AM. Before, my mornings were rather meandering and unorganized. Now I get up easily and look forward to starting my day with prayer. I am still uncertain of where my spirit is in this whole process, but I am trusting that God has led me here and given me the grace to pray something that my mind does not fully understand.

And I'm starting to suspect more and more, that the Virgin Mary is behind all of it. :-)

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