Our Lady Calms the Mind

Every so often, I am reminded of Our Lady and stand in awe of how she has touched my life. It is easy, in the daily grind (and cry and moan and groan and tantrum and what was dinner again?) to lose sight of small and not so small blessings. It is easy to lose the thread that, in fact, weaves our lives together. I was driving home from work only to find myself contemplating just such a thing.

Mary, Sednaya, Syria

October 7th is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and I was reminded of that fact– one that had slipped my mind– when I pulled up my prayer app for the day. Our Lady of the Rosary has figured so prominently in my life that I felt almost ashamed to have forgotten. My parents were married at Our Lady of the Rosary parish, the same parish that my brother and I would be confirmed at. It was a lovely, unpresuming little building that fairly burst forth with joy every time we were there. It was built by Sicilian fisherman who were new to San Diego, and dedicated to Our Lady. They scrimped and saved and built their church, frescoed on every surface with carpet worn by the many people who crammed in every Sunday, far beyond the building’s capacity. It was a 75 year old parish when I was there, 90 years old now. No matter what seemed to go wrong, the parish weathered every storm. It was a good parish to grow up in: loud, and brash, and glad to celebrate every feast that could be found, glad to celebrate God and family and love at any moment. We processed to the Embarcadero every year and blessed the boats, though fishing was no longer the sole source of funds for the parish. We celebrated every Marian feast day there was, but none so much as October 7th.

I moved from San Diego to New England, and in the comings and goings of college life, Our Lady receded in my mind. She was there, always looking out for me, but for a time I wasn’t aware of it. One September morning, one week before my wedding, I got a call from my mother-in-law. She worked at the church my husband and I were to be married in, and had promised to do a quick walk through to make sure we were set for the flowers.

“You need to get here. Now.”

Cryptic. Not what you need when you’ve planned a wedding from Arizona, flown to New Hampshire, and have 7 days until the day. But my fiancé picked me up, and off we went. The church is on top of a hill, overlooking downtown, with beautiful French rococo themes, and at the time, they had just finished restoring several of the frescos and statues. It reminded me not a little of the “wedding church” in Rome– San Alessio (which, hey, isn’t it fortunate to share a name?). We walked up to the church and were almost blown over by a giant, industrial size fan, and I smelled sawdust in the chill of the morning air. This wasn’t good.

We followed her in and saw that, contrary to what we had been told, they had started the restoration of the high altar a week and a half early. In place of the marble and carpet, there was plywood, gaps in the floor, and exposed electrical. We were assured that they could try to piece some of the ripped up carpet and try to patch the holes for the next week, but it wasn’t sure. All I knew was that if I dragged my cathedral length train up rough plywood and live wires, I was going to go up like a Roman candle at best.

I have to admit, I was a little bit stunned, I couldn’t even begin to form a plan. My mother in law had a few friends around the diocese, and over the space of three phone calls, we were driving to the cathedral to see if it would do. The inside was nothing like I had hoped– it was bare, with water damage here and there, fallen prey to that period of time where wall decoration was whitewashed. Still, it was miraculously available. As I tried to adjust my bearings, I looked to my right and stopped.

Staring back at me was the beautiful, serene face of Our Lady of the Rosary, carved in wood. The statue itself is beautiful, but to come 3000 miles from home, run into obstacles and then find the same patroness as my parents had… It was enough to make me weep in relief. If my own mother couldn’t be there, it helped having a direct reminder of my Heavenly Mother’s presence.

All those thoughts and memories hummed through my mind as I hurtled down the beautiful fall tunnel that is the Turnpike at this time of year. All I could do was send up a short prayer of thanks and hold onto those memories for the moments when I’m tired, and run down, and thoroughly discouraged. Those memories help to pull me up enough to refocus my mind, to be reminded of the order of the world, and the Mother who is never more than a thought away, her Son right at her side.

Alexis Rohlfing

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Alexis Rohlfing currently lives in New Hampshire, though she’s still a California girl at heart. She graduated from Thomas More College in New Hampshire and has been working and raising a family ever since.

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  • Lee

    She has never failed me. She has been through a lot ,and is still giving of her love. We are most fortunate.

  • chaco

    Thanks for affirming our affection for Mama’s consolation. Fatima’s request to “Make reparation for outrages committed against The Immaculate Heart of Mary” seems to urge us to consider consoling Her as well as seeking Her consolation. Nothing could be more Christ-like, Right ? We can be sure that what pleases Her most is what pleases Her Son, which is our faith in Him. So, I celebrate that with Her; “Rejoice Queen Mother, your Son our God has gone into the depths of darkness and illumined it with the VICTORY OF DIVINE MERCY. It has penetrated the hardness of our selfish-vanity and softened our Hearts into Praise & Thanks for God (who longs to share His Glorious Love with us).”

  • Blobee

    I have been going through some weird stuff lately, and it’s cumulative effect has been to leave me with anxiety and a sense of depression; a real ache in my heart. But I have noticed when I say the Hail Mary, the place in my heart that is in pain calms down, and I feel peace. Our Lady found me when I had wandered away from Jesus, years ago now, and I followed her like a little lamb back to Him, and now, since this peace comes when I pray to her, I know she is watching over me and protecting me, and I’ll get through this rough time. Praised be Jesus Christ and God our Father, for so wonderful a Mother!

  • Deoacveritatimyfaithsustainsm

    May I say that I am sorry you are going through this difficult time in your life.
    I can empathize, and that is why I would dare to suggest something that has helped me greatly….Confession.
    I read an article once on the Sacrament of Confession being a Healing Sacrament, that was a few years back. Anyways I was going through a hard time myself experiencing anxiety and just a lot of pain and I thought I would try to go to Confession often and see if it helped me healed.
    Well all I can tell you is that I noticed a great change in my life the stress was greatly reduced and inside of me I felt more peaceful and I could think clearly I increased my prayers and I feel that if I fall I can get up easier now.
    May I also suggest that you try making a good Examination of Concience before going to Confession I thought it made my Confession easier and to the point so that I didn’t bore the priest with a long Confession, plus I know exactly what I want to say when receiving the Sacrament.
    They say that a good Confession doesn’t need to last more than 5 minutes.
    Anyways I hope all gets better for you and I will keep you in my prayers and please if you can pray for me also.
    God bless you!!!

  • Blobee

    Thank you so much for your suggestion. I will try it! And thanks for your prayers too! I’ll pray for you too, as you asked. God bless.

  • Deoacveritatimyfaithsustainsm

    I forgot to say and this is for you and anyone who reads these, (I’m sorry I don’t mean to insist on Confession but like I said before it helped me so much) make sure you find a good priest who wants to hear your Confession.

    You might ask why I say that?

    Well, most priests will hear your Confession but unfortunately I have found many priests who discourage the faithful from going to Confession often.

    I have personally heard some priests tell the faithful that going to Confession once a year is enough.

    I’m sorry but if you encounter those types of priests run as far as you can from them, because they don’t care for you or your soul.

    I know from good priests that the Faithful should go to Confession at least once a month.

    Popes have often talked about the benefits of frequent Confession and even Pope Francis said recently:
    “The Pope spoke about the Sacrament of Reconciliation in his homily at the Santa Marta guesthouse this morning.

    He said the only way of reaching God’s love is to go to him with the same honesty, transparency and simplicity that children have, accepting the “grace of shame” that lets us feel God’s forgiveness.
    But, he added, “confessing our sins is not like going to a meeting with a psychiatrist, nor to a torture chamber, it’s to say to the Lord, ‘Lord I am a sinner’, but to say through his brother, because this is also to say concrete ‘and I am a sinner for this, for this and this”

    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/10/25/pope-francis-says-confession-is-not-like-seeing-a-psychiatrist/

  • chaco

    And when She handed Him the lamb, He placed it on His shoulders with GREAT REJOICING & called all His friends to celebrate with Him. (Luke 15: 5-7)

  • rosebud

    The Mystery of sufferring is a little less mysterious when considering St. Thomas Aquinas’ (formost Church Theologian) explaination; 2 reasons an all powerful God would allow something seemingly evil to occur; 1) If it can result in a greater good to occur ie. His longing to become human, in order to be with us in all our Joys & sorrows, has caused a much more profound appreciation for God’s Love. 2) If removing something seemingly evil would cause a worse evil to occur

  • Blobee

    Thank you. When I think of what you have said in context of the things that have been happening I was referring to, I think I can see perhaps God’s purpose #1 in a couple, and maybe #2 in a couple. That’s helpful. THANKS and God bless.

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