If you ask my children, “What is your mommy’s favorite thing that God created?” they will tell you color. “She makes us color everything!” It’s true. Even my middle school age children will affirm that not only do their pictures need to be colored, but also all maps, charts, and graphs. Everything looks so much better with color.
Even though the Easter season ended with the Feast of Pentecost just a few days ago, I struggle to call the season we’re entering “ordinary.” Nothing these days seems to be what we expect. Every day, we seem to have a new executive order or new information that changes the way we live our life. Far from ordinary, if you ask me. And now, after months of sheltering in place, many of us are starting to venture out into the world outside our homes. For some, this season could be the Finally-I’ve-Been-Waiting-For-This Time. For others, it may be the Leaving-My-House-Gives-Me-A-Panic-Attack Time. Neither of those are particularly ordinary. But, either way, this time is the beginning of a new and potentially scary way to live our lives.
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Days have slipped into weeks, which has slipped into months. Mid-March, our chapel stopped hosting live services. A couple of days ago, I realized that we had gone a full month, and are close to closing out a full second month of not having access to the sacraments. My oldest had prepared, and is prepared, for his First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion – which will occur at an undecided future date. Our religious education program switched from mainly face-to-face classes to entirely virtual, closing out the end of the program year in mid-May. This is face of life these days – these are the cards we have been dealt, and I know my family is facing the same set of circumstances all throughout the country. To be honest, it helps to know I am not alone in these unique experiences. I know there is solidarity to be found, even in these oddest of times. Before we know it, the “Month of Mary” will have come and gone. It will be filed away as one of the longest months to date of 2020. Mary Crownings have either been suspended in churches, or families are opting to try their hand at doing them in private at home. Day dawns every morning, and we slip into our regular routines, which may or may not include thoughts of the Blessed Mother. But May is not over yet! In Luke 2:19, we are reminded, “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” And, in today’s weird world, there are few other words which resonate so deeply.
We usually associate the word “routine” with something monotonous that we often want to “get away from.” However, a well-structured routine helps us to organize our lives and not waste time. Time is the most precious gift we receive from God (after the gift of our life). After it passes, we cannot go back and the only time we really have is now. Yesterday is gone and we don’t know if tomorrow will come.
I will be the first to admit to you, I have never felt a strong connection to the Rosary in the past. I knew I should pray it more often; I knew that people had experienced great comfort and a closeness to God by praying it. Growing up, I heard of many popes, saints, and laypeople declaring how powerful it can be. To be completely honest with you, I didn’t get it. Sure, I love and have a devotion to Mary. She is our spiritual mother. But the idea of taking twenty to thirty minutes to repeat fifty Hail Marys made my head spin. Why repeat prayers over and over? What benefit could this bring to an ordinary person, like me? I’m not a theologian. What exactly am I supposed to focus on? The mysteries, the gifts of the spirit, the prayers themselves? Can’t I benefit from simply talking to God using my own words, versus an organized prayer? I’m not sure what led me, then, to praying the Rosary every day for two weeks.
75 years ago, on May 12, 1945, 36-year-old Father Patrick Peyton arrived in New York City to rehearse for a radio program to be carried the next day on 300 Mutual Network affiliate radio stations. The Broadway theater that was to host the show was to be filled by a live audience of 900 guests. As Father Peyton and his assistant Father Woods inspected the stage, Father Woods said, “It looks rather bare.” The two went down to Barclay Street to Benziger’s religious-goods store, where they saw in the window exactly what they were looking for — a beautiful statue of Our Lady of Providence, perfect as the centerpiece for the stage.