Occasions of Grace

Last week my husband and I celebrated our wedding anniversary by spending time together in Maine. We had wonderful weather and enjoyed so much of the beauty together. We also had time alone. During my time, walking on a seemingly endless beach, I took in the entire picture; birds flying and calling, the waves lapping at my feet, people walking alone or as couples, and the endless sea topped off by equally endless clouds.

I reflected on Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s, Gift From the Sea. In her introductory chapter she writes, “To dig for treasures shows not only impatience and greed, but lack of faith. Patience, patience, patience is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach - waiting for a gift from the sea.” 

After years of hunting for shells, rocks, and ocean glass, I was finally open to the magnificence of all as the gift of the moment. Then, just as I was getting ready to end my walk, a couple called to me. There in the surf was a jelly fish the size of a basketball. It laid there brown with designs of gold enhanced by the sun with the partial dome of clearness over it. We weren’t sure if it was alive or dead so we kept a distance even as the three of us merely marveled in silence, together. Then as we each prepared to go our own way, a wave came in, the jelly fish rose up, its tentacles came out and off it went. 

This was indeed a gift, totally unexpected and completely unanticipated. I like to call these moments occasions of grace. They call for an openness to the moment; an awareness of beauty, the ability to be present in silence and without an agenda. 

This is the way I want to be in the world, open to the gifts and moments freely given to me when I am not tied up in my own expectations; living in the awareness of grace freely given and always abounding.


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Prayer for Month of the Rosary

Friends, October is the month of the Most Holy Rosary! Let us remember this beautiful and comforting prayer when praying the Rosary. “Never was it known that anyone … was left unaided.” Share it with family and friends!


The Memorare

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession, was left unaided.

Inspired with this confidence, I fly to you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother!

To you I come; before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions, but, in your mercy, hear and answer me.


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Topics: Mary, rosary, family, feast-day

Our Lady of the Rosary

Do you remember this family-favorite, prayer-poem by Mary Dixon Thayer, written in the 1920’s and made popular by Archbishop Fulton Sheen in the 1950’s? Share it with your family on this special Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!


Lovely Lady dressed in blue
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little Boy,
Tell me what to say!
Did you lift Him up, sometimes,
Gently, on your knee?
Did you sing to Him the way,
Mother does to me?
Did you hold His hand at night?
Did you ever try
Telling stories of the world?
Oh! And did He cry?
Do you really think He cares
If I tell Him things --
Little things that happen? And
Do the Angels’ wings
Make a noise? And can He hear
Me if I speak low?
Does He understand me now?
Tell me -- for you know!
Lovely Lady dressed in blue
Teach me how to pray!
God was just your little Boy,
And you know the way!
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Topics: Mary, rosary, feast-day

Siblings Forever

Reflecting on the news of the passing of Father Willy’s brother and the sorrow that it brings also makes me marvel over the sibling experience. Unlike friends who may come and go in our lives, siblings are forever. Surely there are those who don’t nourish adult relationships with them, and others who have lost their siblings through death or happenstance, but nonetheless, they have made a mark on our lives which cannot be erased.

I see how my relationships with my sisters have changed over time. As youngsters at home we were more competitors than friends. We fought like banshees to my mother’s consternation.   Over time, we each went our own way, still in contact but living quite different lives. Now, we have moved from all the other kinds of relationships we have had over time, to friends. Regardless of our ties and individual experiences, their mark is indelibly part of my life; part of what made me into what and who I am.

No one else can ever share this unique space or understand the ramifications. It doesn’t really matter if our siblings die when we are 5, 25 or 60 … or even 80, there is something gut-wrenching about the loss even if it is taken as if “life goes on.” Sometimes it’s a silent loss as in childhood when the grief of bereaved parents is so overwhelming, the remaining children are more concerned about parental loss to grief than their own loss of a sibling. Over the years I’ve been amazed at how siblings still cry or remain muddled over this loss that happened years 


Perhaps, as with most losses, especially as we age, we don’t like to think too much about it, knowing that sooner or later our time will come. There are some who lived before we were born so it only seems natural that we will have years without them as well. But as with all losses, there may be an empty hole, and no one else will ever fill that hole. ago. 

Sometimes it is good to examine our transitions and evolutions. It’s always nice to let those closest to us know the impact they continue to have on our lives. I am forever grateful that my sisters and I have lived long enough to love and appreciate each other so much. 

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Topics: loss, family, siblings

Pray for the Family

Holy-TrinityThis past weekend I joined members of our extended family to pray for our brother, Romeo E. Raymond, 1936-2015. This caused us all to remember how precious our family is in our lives, in our memories and in our hearts. This is what I was thinking and praying about and thanking our Good God for.

 "The family is where we first learned to love and be loved; where we first learned to trust and believe; where we first learned to hope and care for others; where we first learned to pray and to honor and thank God; where we first learned to share with and respect others.

The family is so precious and valuable because it was imagined by God as the best way to reflect his own heart and love in the community of grace and beauty we call Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There is no relationship more valuable in giving and protecting life, in building a community and society where the relationship of love and kinship are central. The family is our most prized possession and we do well to honor it, cherish it and protect it. God in Christ became man so that man might become god. The family is the path and the destiny of this Christian vocation.

Pray for the family; thank God for the family; love the family; believe in the family; place all your hope in the family. You will not be disappointed."

Looking for more ways to pray with your family? Visit How To Pray The Rosary.

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Topics: gratitude, prayer, death, family

Family Altar

Family_AltarWhen Daisy was 2 years old, she often put her pacifier on the prayer table on her way to eat since it was placed between the living and dining rooms.  Her mother Julie continually told her that she couldn’t put it there until she was ready to give it to the Baby Jesus.  That always made Daisy reclaim it.  One morning Julie came down the stairs and saw Daisy put the pacifier on the prayer table as usual but this time she turned and said, “I don’t need it anymore but Baby Jesus likes it.” She never went for it again.

A family altar or prayer table is a place in the house where all the family knows is special.  It might have a crucifix, a statue, an Icon, Rosary, candle, a copy of wedding vows, perhaps a photo, and sometimes something a loved one made or owned like a scarf.  It doesn’t need to be in an area where guests visit but it’s most important that everyone in the family has access to it. Sometimes families gather around to pray, other times individuals, but it is always a reminder of God’s presence and love.

As a teenager, unaware of such a practice, I created my own prayer table. Grandma had embroidered a dresser scarf years before and I used that to cover my mom’s cedar chest which was at the foot of my bed.  Then I put a statue of Mary on it that had a box for a rosary which lit up Mary and played Ave Maria when it was opened.  It was that simple, but whenever I was having difficult times I would go in my room and pray my rosary in front of it and listened to the music.

This is very similar to the day Valerie observed her 17 year old son standing before their family altar.  He stood quite still for several minutes and then touched the crucifix.  So much is going on in an adolescent’s world and yet he would have been mortified if he knew he had been observed praying.

After hearing a talk on the family altar, Zak went home and told his family about it.  He found the perfect place to create their own in an alcove just outside their family room.  Each one went to find something they would like to place on it.  They started with a baby afghan both children had used, to cover the table.  Then was added a First Holy Communion statue of the Sacred Heart, a picture of the Holy family one of the children had torn from a book, and a rosary which had belonged to a favorite aunt.  When they gathered around, they were surprised to see that Zak had placed a framed Father’s Day card from their 4 year old which said, “I love you Daddy”.  With tears in his eyes Zak said, “ I want to see this every day as I leave for work so I never forget how much I love each of you and that God keeps you in His care.”

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Topics: prayer, family, altar

Build It and They Will Come

Procession at Father Peyton’s anniversary celebration, June 6, 2015

Build it and they will come … and they did.

The only building we did was to construct our own canopy for the Eucharistic Procession commemorating the anniversary of Servant of God Patrick Peyton of the Congregation of Holy Cross.

Nearly three hundred people were in attendance — among them scores of families with young children. We were honored to have our new Bishop Edgar da Cunha of the Diocese of Fall River among us … however it was the children praying the Rosary and kneeling before the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes that left a memorable impression in the hearts and minds of many.

Graveside at Father Peyton’s anniversary celebration, June 6, 2015 This year's celebration started with Rosary prayer at the grotto. Father Willy Raymond, C.S.C., President of Holy Cross Family Ministries, knelt before the Blessed Sacrament and was joined by the children and families that would lead us in the prayer of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.

At the conclusion of Rosary prayer and with the newly constructed canopy in position, everyone was invited to gather for the procession following the Blessed Sacrament. Front and center were the children, a fitting tribute for the Feast of Corpus Christi or the Body and Blood of Christ. With hymns, a litany in praise of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, we arrived at the cemetery and gathered at the grave of Father Peyton. Adults either stood or sat in chairs whereas the children elected to sit on the grass in front of Father Peyton's headstone … eyes fixed on the monstrance and Eucharist held aloft by Father Raymond.

Bishop Edgar da Cunha, SDV, Father Willy Raymond, CSC, and young guests at Father Peyton’s anniversary celebration, June 6, 2015 Father's words were few, recalling that 23 years ago a crowd similar to this one had gathered to place the mortal remains of Father Peyton here.

After a triple blessing, the crowd was invited to board a bus or enjoy a 10 minute walk back to St. Joseph Chapel for Mass with the bishop followed by an indoor/outdoor reception.

What was particularly striking about the celebration this year was the presence of so many families with young children. Among them were children who with their parents are part of a small but hopefully growing network of Children's Rosary Groups that have been organizing in and around us of late.

Holy Cross Family Ministries has reached out in support of their efforts for together we share a common purpose … to see the Rosary prayed among families today sincerely believing that the family that prays together stays together and a world at prayer is a world at peace.

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Topics: rosary, Father Peyton, feast-day, Father Peyton Center events

Mary and the Holy Family

Mary_and_Jesus-1When one reflects on the Holy Family, oftentimes the focus is on Jesus. We might say, and yes, rightly so, as he is our Lord and Savior.

This week I attended the MSA meeting Mariological Society of America in Hickory, NC. There were many presentations and papers read relating to Mary and the Holy Family. 

I would like to share something for us to ponder when thinking about the members of the Holy Family. Have you ever given thought to the role of Mary in the Domestic Church?

What do we mean when we refer to Domestic Church? Let’s consider that the Domestic Church is family life: members of a family.

Focusing on Mary’s role in this family we know that she was visited by the Angel Gabrielle who was sent by God to ask Mary to be the mother of our Savior Jesus Christ.

Her “yes” affects Joseph whom she is betrothed to and plans to marry.

Her “yes” affects her parents who desire that their daughter have a beautiful wedding and a meaningful marriage.

Her “yes” gives her Son Jesus the ability to live his obedience to his Father. Mary and Joseph are there to help their son understand his role of being obedient to his heavenly Father and respectful to his earthly parents.

Yet, she is found with child and that changes the course of her life forever. 

Mary’s role within the family (Domestic Church) is one of stability, prayer, hospitality and silence. She is stable in her relationship with God – she does not waver from her “yes.” She lives a life of prayer in union with God who gives her strength. She visits her cousin Elizabeth. She opens her home to the apostles and is with them in the upper room after the Resurrection. She is silent and holds many of her life’s events within her heart and quietly ponders them.

St. John Paul II stated, “Mary was able to turn a stable into a home for Jesus, with poor swaddling clothes and an abundance of love.”

As we create the Domestic Church within our own families, I ask these questions: Are we aware of Mary within our families? How do we exhibit her stability, prayer, hospitality and silence within our own families? What is our greatest challenge in being members of the Domestic Church?

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Topics: Mary, family, The Annunciation

A Moment of Peace for your Heart

Please enjoy this beautiful poem… a meditation on the inner activity of God, the Holy Trinity dwelling within the human heart.


Last Night As I Lay Sleeping
Last night as I lay sleeping, sleeping_child
I dreamed-oh blessed art!-
of fountain water leaping 

 and flowing in my heart.
"Where is the hidden channel,"
I cried, "that was equipped
to bring me this spring of life
from which I never sipped?"
Last night as I lay sleeping,
I dreamed-oh blessed art!-

a hive of bees was reaping
its nectar in my heart.
The worker bees so golden
were filling up the cracks
with sorrows they converted
into honey and white wax.
Last night as I lay sleep,
I dreamed-oh blessed art!-
a burning sun was steeping
the blood within my heart.
I know that it was burning.
I felt it heat inside.
I know that it was sunlight.
It shone, and then I cried.
Last night as I lay sleeping,
I dreamed-oh blessed art!-
That God himself was keeping
watch within my heart.
                                   --Antonio Machado
                            {Translated from the Spanish by Robert Schecter}
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Topics: heart, inspiration, peace


Forgive us as we forgive othersRecently I was watching the TV series, “AD: The Bible Continued.” At one point Pilate was searching for the Zealot Boaz who had killed his servant. When they brought in the girlfriend she told them that Boaz had gone to where he could receive forgiveness. Pilate immediately knew he was with the developing camp of Christians. 

What a wonderful thought that people would join us in community because they knew they would receive forgiveness and acceptance; that our community, that each one of us would reach out without criticism, judgment, or condemnation but only acceptance and love. What a wonder if we could reach out with open arms to the poor, the starved, the divorced, those who have made decisions that were “obviously” wrong and yet known; to those who don’t look, act, or dress as we do.

Recently, I’ve been so aware of the role of judgment and forgiveness in my life. I came upon a book entitled, Seventy Times Seven, by Doris Donnelly. It has become my spiritual reading at this time. 

I think it would be wonderful if I/we could remember that we too need forgiveness and have sought and received it over and over again from our loving God … and from those around us. Because of this, may we each reach out in gratitude and love, forgiving all as we have been forgiven. Let us pray for each other in this regard. 

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Topics: inspiration, forgiveness, acceptance

Looking Back at Father Peyton’s Influence in the Philippines

Father Willy and long time friend of Family Rosary Cardinal Tagle.Cardinal Tagle shared that the Family Rosary and the Family Rosary Crusade were a major force in his early life and continue to be today. For more than 60 years the Family Rosary Crusade has been active in the Philippines. The Cardinal said as a child he used to join his family in praying the Rosary, often welcoming neighbors into their home for the Rosary. Then they would visit neighboring families in their homes and would continue moving around the neighborhood to share the Rosary.

In the Philippines the FRC became an even stronger force when it combined efforts with the Basic Christian Communities when the movement arrived from Latin America to the Philippines. The joining of the Family Rosary with the Basic Christian Communities has made the FRC a powerful force for good in the society even up to today. 

Did Father Peyton, C.S.C., the Apostle of the Family Rosary have any idea how powerful Mary would make the Family Rosary Crusade? He surely must know now from the special place in heaven he occupies.

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Topics: philipines, rosary, family, vocations

May, Mary’s Month

The sense of peace was already pervasive when we gathered to begin May, the Month of Mary, with a Dawn Rosary procession on the streets around Most Holy Mother of the Light Church in Monterrey, Mexico.

Dawn Rosary procession at Most Holy Mother of the Light Church in Monterrey, Mexico.

When about 150 people appeared, Father John Herman, C.S.C., the parish priest, and I were happily surprised. It was all grace from there as we sang and meditated on the scripture texts of the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary.

In Mexico there is a lovely practice of offering a flower to Our Lady that we hadn't really planned on, but it happened spontaneously as a beautiful final touch to a very prayerful experience for all.  

Through the prayer and procession we invited Our Mother Mary to come to be with us particularly during this month of May and we all seemed to sense that she was making it clear that she accepted our invitation.

As a wise Mother, she does not force her presence upon us. She waits for us to open the door to our hearts and our lives so that she can bring us her son, Jesus. Simple devotions are very often this way of inviting the Lord and Our Lady to act in our lives as they always want to.

Since the middle ages, the month of May has been a time for Christians to renew our devotion and to let Mary into our lives.

The point is to do something to warm up our hearts in a world that certainly needs a whole lot more simple love and devotion. Our Lady will help us warm up our homes and our lives if we let her: this I know.

Do what you can. Gather your family to pray in the home more often in May. Invite a friend to say the Rosary with you as you take a walk in a park on a spring day. Maybe stop by a Church on a lunch break to pray for earthquake victims in Nepal or Christian Martyrs in the Middle East.

Pray with faith that prayer does make a difference!

Share your prayer intentions with us. We will pray for you. And while you are visiting our prayer site, take a moment to pray for someone else’s intention too.

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Topics: mexico, may, Mary, rosary

A Celebration of Faith and Mother Mary

ValLimar Jansen entertains students at the Archdiocese of Los Angeles Youth Rosary Rally, May 2015.

Last week the students from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles gathered at Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills, CA to attend their annual Youth Rosary Rally.

The energized crowd of students gave witness to their love for our Mother Mary and celebrated their faith in Jesus! Their enthusiasm for life, a life that has the presence of our Mother Mary and her son Jesus, bore awesome witness to living out our faith. This year’s event was especially uplifting and inspiring.

The students heard from Bishop Wilkerson, Auxiliary Bishop of the San Fernando Pastoral Region, who gave a compelling talk about not being afraid to defend our faith.

The popular and vibrant singer, composer, storyteller and recording artist, ValLimar Jansen, fired up the youth with her songs and powerful testimony about the presence of Mary in her life.

The students participated in praying the Rosary by leading the prayers or being a bead in the living Rosary. There were so many students who wanted to participate, 3 to 4 students made up each bead of the living Rosary.

The students left the field energized, feeling good about themselves and ready to spread the love of Mary and her son, Jesus, to all.

During this month of May, the special month of Mary, how do you connect with her? When do you spend time with her in prayer? And, like the example of these students, how do you give witness to your faith?


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Topics: may, Mary, rosary, Rally

World’s Greatest Mother


statue-Mary-1She was called the “World’s Greatest Mother” by Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

She is the Daughter of the Divine Father, the Mother of the Divine Son and Spouse of the Holy Spirit.

She knows God more intimately than any other creature.

She is the model for all mothers. 

One reason so many mothers are beloved by their children and honored on Mother’s Day is because they look to Mary as the model of how to be a mother. Good mothers teach their children to pray, to love God and to love their brothers and sisters and neighbors.

Why not honor your mother this Mother’s Day by giving her the greatest gift of all, the gift of prayer. Visit www.PrayersForFamilies.org


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Topics: prayer, mother, Mary

Pray for Your Mother this Mother's Day

I spent a little time browsing the web a bit to see if there was some link between the celebration of Mother’s Day in May and the celebration of May as the Month of Mary.

Apparently not. Personally, I’ll simply take it as a providential connection!

It makes sense that, during the Month of Mary, the spiritual Mother of us all, we remember and give thanks to God for all our mothers “by blood”.

Screen shot of Family Rosary’s Mother’s Day prayer site.In that light too, it makes sense that we at Family Rosary want to help people pray for our mothers as one of the most important gifts we can give them on Mother’s Day!

And we’ve made it easy to let your mom know. Visit www.PrayersForFamilies.org to send her a free eCard. Select a prayer, a beautiful image and add your own message … and click send! That’s it. And she’ll love it. 

For most of us, our mothers were the ones taught us to pray. For very many of us, they did so by introducing us to the Mother of God, praying the Hail May, to help lead us to the Lord. A great many of our mothers have turned to our Holy Mother especially when they have been worried about us!!!

I know my mother did! I know now that so very often I needed those Rosaries she prayed for me – and I know that the Lord heard those prayers!  (This is not the place to go into the details. I’ll just leave you wondering!)

Pray for your mother this Mother’s Day and let her know that you love her very much. It just might be the best gift she ever received.

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Topics: prayer, mother, family

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Spiritual and not-so-spiritual happenings, ideas, thoughts and prayer from the daily life of FamilyRosary.org. Please, join us in the discussion.

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