One of the beautiful things about our Catholic faith is the rituals. Masses are familiar no matter where we go. We all partake in the same sacraments. Prayers are universal.
I learned the Glory Be, the Hail Mary and the Our Father at a very young age and often said the rosary when I was in grade school. Unfortunately, for years, okay….decades, I didn’t think about it. I suspect I thought I didn’t need it, that it was an old and outdated method of prayer.
As I grew older a few things happened in my life that literally brought me to my knees and in those instances I returned to a foundation that although ignored, had remained solid beneath me. I rediscovered the rosary, this time in the form of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.
Why this particular devotion? Because it’s based on visions reported by Saint Mary Faustina Kowalska (1905-1938), known as “the Apostle of Mercy.” She was a Polish sister of the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy and canonized as a Catholic saint in 2000. She’s a Kowalski, I married into the Kowalski family. How could I go wrong?
And I didn’t.
I don’t pray the chaplet lightly. I pray it for intentions nearest and dearest to my heart. And I believe those prayers have been answered.
These days I have to admit to multi-tasking when I pray the chaplet. Right after I put the leash on our black Lab I plug myself into an instrumental channel on Pandora on my iPhone and grab a rosary as I head out for fresh air and time away from distractions at home. There are a few intentions I say the chaplet on a continual daily basis for, the third intention changes and is added when needed, for a nine-day stretch. The rosary helps me keep count of the prayers as I walk.
The repetition of the prayers brings calm to my heart and over time that repetition has become a prayer in itself. A person can’t keep up that kind of praying without finally listening to the words. The words can’t be said that often without somewhat of an understanding.
Lately my rosary has needed a few repairs. It often swings from my hand as I’m being pulled by an 85 pound dog and occasionally gets tangled in his retractable leash. I’ve repaired the one that holds a relic of Sister Faustina more times than I can count. Once I dropped it altogether, thinking it was safe in my pocket, and had to retrace my steps to find it. Today another rosary became a casualty when it got tangled for the second time in a matter of minutes and I didn’t stop to fix it, resulting in a more permanent break and a lost section.
Life often gets tangled, it often feels broken, and for more years than I want to admit, I’ve not used prayer to help me through the labyrinth. For more years than I want to admit, I’ve thought I was in control.
This week has been a rough one for extended family and a close friend. It has brought into focus the idea that sometimes all we can do is pray. To keep in mind that we’re not in control but there is someone who is. Someone who has a plan and a reason for what happens in our lives.
Every once in a while I’m tempted to ask for a sign of God’s presence, usually when my faith is weak. I don’t usually get that sign. Today He put it right smack in the middle of my day as I walked through a parking lot. I’m not in control.
I might have to keep praying about my acceptance of that. It’s seems to be an ongoing process.