A Mother so nice we honor her twice — a column by Paul Thomas Moore
“In My Father’s House” / By Paul Thomas Moore
What’s that rhyme they say about New York, New York — “A town so nice they named it twice”? May is the month of Mary, while October is the Month of the Rosary, which is also Mary’s. She deserves both.
I’m not sure whether if it was in May or October when I first learned how to say the rosary, but I do remember the setting.
It was just after weekday Mass one morning about 30 years ago. I was out of work at the time, and Father had just finished saying, “Go, the Mass is ended.” I had lowered my head to say a few much-needed prayers for employment and other personal intentions, when suddenly my ears pricked up at the sound of a murmuring wave. The voices had a different tenor than the usual “How are you?” pleasantries exchanged at the back door of church as people exit after Mass.
I lifted my gaze, and some elderly ladies (about the same age I am now), were still in their pews, and saying . . . something.
Since I was new to that church, I figured it to be an after-Mass prayer such as is the practice at various parishes, especially at the close of weekday Mass.
I waited for them to finish so I could get back to my prayer wish list, but when they finally came up for air, they just started up again.
I came to recognize that it was the Hail Mary being said. Of course, they were praying the rosary. Mom had said the rosary, but it was not an activity her kids had jumped to join her in, and the compromise was three Hail Mary’s before bed.
I listened to the ladies in the church that morning, the rise and fall of the prayers, absorbing the rhythm if not the deeper meaning of their words. Before long, under the category of, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” I found myself mumbling along.
The rosary traces its roots from the practice of 3rd-century Christian hermits and monks who used stones and “prayer ropes” to keep track of the 150 psalms. Not until 1569 was it established as an official devotion, and in 2002 the rosary took on its present form when St. John Paul Ⅱ added the Luminous Mysteries (my personal favorite).
The rosary isn’t essential to salvation. Many saints and martyrs never prayed it. For that matter, the apostles didn’t say it — although it could be argued the Apostle Luke started the whole thing off when he recorded the Angel Gabriel’s greeting to Mary, “The Lord is with you.” Later, he relays Elizabeth’s greeting to her cousin Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 2:28; 2:42)
ALWAYS POINTS TO HER SON
After my first lesson in the rosary, I joined the chorus whenever possible after Mass, and even spoke up to lead a “decade” (10 Hail Marys) occasionally — though I must confess doing so still makes me a little nervous to this day.
The rosary has been very important in my life. One of Mary’s titles is “Mary, Queen of Peace,” and peace is one of the side effects of the rosary that I have felt personally.
It’s a mantra of love, a cadence of compassion that honors Mary, but always points to her Son and the sacrifice he made for us. The rosary is a meditative prayer, and like a good walk, I find it helps me sort through things I didn’t even know were on my heart. Saying it alone is great; saying it with others is an even bigger blessing. There’s a sense of communion that is real and solid.
Thank you, Holy Mary, Mother of God, and please pray for us this October, Month of your Most Holy Rosary.
PAUL THOMAS MOORE is a Catholic commentator and singer-songwriter. He and wife Marilou attend St. Mary of Lourdes in Germantown Hills. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.