Saturday, January 18, 2014

Praying the Rosary

Affirmation: I am committed to cultivating compassion for those who most need God's mercy. 

Many years ago when my husband Sandy and I were in New York City we went to Ellis Island.  It had recently opened and I was very anxious to see it.  I knew that both our ancestors had entered the United States through that terminal and even if they hadn't I felt it was an amazing opportunity to experience at least a trace of the United States history in a very real way.  It was late in the day when we headed off for the tour.  It was a rainy dark day.  We stood on the line to embark on the ship and finally boarded and headed towards the island.  It was remarkable!  I was stunned by the size of the entry hall and took time to imagine what it would have been like to come into it, wondering if I would be allowed to enter the country or if I would be turned away.  I could only imagine the exhaustion and anxiety that would accompany such an experience.  

We didn't have as much time as I would have liked because we'd started out so late but I was pleased that we had made the effort.  The last ferry was about to leave.  It was still raining and now it was totally dark.  We again waited on line to board the ship.  When we finally got aboard, there weren't any seats but there was a little shelter towards the bow.  My husband and I were quiet with our thoughts.  I decided to say the Rosary as we headed back to port.  When you disembark the ship at Battery Park there is not a que for the taxis.  One must search for transportation and if you're trying to get back uptown it can be a very daunting exercise.  There weren't any taxis to be found anywhere.  There were all these people vying for a ride and it was crazy!  We decided to head off in the opposite direction of the crowd, to take the "path less traveled."  As we walked along we were quiet and I threw in a few more Hail Marys.  Roaming around that area in the dark was not the best choice, even for two street wise people from NYC.   

We were becoming concerned when we turned a corner and two people were exiting a taxi.  We immediately got into it and took a few deep breaths.  I don't remember the cabbie's name and why, you ask, would I?  Well, the first thing we noticed is that he had on a classic music station; it was playing Pachelbels Cannon. I could feel the tension drain away, not only from me but from my husband and then we both noticed the Rosary hanging from the cabbie's rear view mirror.  I smiled.  I might have even giggled a bit.  My husband turned in the seat and looked directly at me and said, "You've been praying the Rosary, haven't you?" 

Now, this was quite a while back.  I say this because now if you hail a cab in NY, the driver probably doesn't speak English and they won't have music on, they have TV screens with advertisements that demand your attention but even then, many years ago, most of the cabbies were from another country.  The probability of getting an English speaking driver was very low.  The probability of getting an English speaking, Rosary practicing Catholic cabby was miraculous. 

I have a young friend who is not a Catholic.  She was raised a Christian but her life has taken her in another direction at this point.  She recently shared with me that she was reading a book about Mother Mary, the goddess.  It's not the first time someone has told me they thought of the Blessed Mother as a goddess.  I once went for an interview for a graduate program and when I told the interviewer that I was a Catholic, she exclaimed, "Oh, that's so cool!  Your faith has a goddess, Mother Mary."  At that time I was surprised.  So, I wasn't surprised this time.  What surprised me is that my friend shared that she had begun to pray to Mary.  She shared that she'd had an issue with a loved one who was not well and she didn't want to add to her relatives distress.  Instead she wrote a letter to Mary, burned it and asked for peace.  She was sharing with me that peace came, almost immediately and it had remained with her up to this point. 

Catholics are sometimes criticized for praying to others besides Christ.  It's true we do, or I should say, I do.  It's not that we're really praying to another.  We're really asking that spiritual being who we believe is closer to God at that moment than we are, to intercede for us.  I pray to St. Anthony, the patron saint of lost things, more and more often. It never fails!  "Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony please look around.  I've lost my _______ and it needs to be found."  I recite a lot of memorized prayers and several I've made up.  I also pray the Rosary.  It was once explained to me that Mother Mary can intercede for us by asking for what we really need, many times when we don't even have a clue about what we really need. 

It is part of the practice to meditate on one of the Mysteries of the Rosary before beginning the prayers for each of the five decades of ten beads.  There are four Mysteries each one assigned to a different day or days of the week.  They take you from the conception of Christ to the Assumption of Mary.  I've been saying the Rosary since I was a child and love to pray it especially as I walk around our nearby lake.  I find comfort in the recitation.  With the reading of Father Haas' book, Catching Fire, Becoming Flame, I decided to make an effort to recite the Rosary daily.  He calls us to be of service.  He reminds us that being of service is the purpose of our existence and we are especially called to be of service to those most in need.  I believe that to be true and while I am a volunteer in many ministries, I wanted to do even more for the marginalized of society.  I wanted to find a way to bring comfort and peace and hope to those most in need.  I therefore, have committed to saying the Rosary, daily, for those God deems most in need of help.  I believe in answered prayer.  I achingly hope that my thoughts, intentions and the energy I am sending forth into the universe are tenderly touching the lives of those who are suffering.  I feel it's a step, perhaps the first step for me, towards feeling a greater sense of compassion for those who most need God's mercy.

If Mother Mary can bring peace to a non-believer and a NY taxi to a couple of nervous, wet, cold travelers, I am very hopeful about what she can do for the comfort of those who so desperately are in need of comfort.  Join me.  Pray your set of prayers for those who are suffering.  Imagine our energy bringing solace, hope, maybe even joy to those who are suffering more than we can even imagine. Every thought we think, every word we say, every action we take affects everyone else in the world. May our thoughts and energy bring peace, salvation and perhaps even joy to those who suffer more than we can even imagine. 

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