Adding an Eleventh Hail Mary

I usually say the Rosary one decade at a time, sprinkling it throughout my day as I putter along through whatever challenges I find myself facing.  Because of this, I sometimes find myself adding an extra Hail Mary to whatever decade I’m contemplating.

This used to really bother me.  Maybe, I’d think to myself, this is a sign that I should be sitting down and concentrating.

But perhaps, a small voice persists in my head, what you have planned and what actually happens aren’t as important as you think.  God loves you, despite your imperfections.  Could it be that it’s better to go through my day praying than it is to get sidetracked by an unrealistic expectation of perfection?

Usually, when there’s a small voice in my head, it doesn’t belong to me.  I say that, because voices in my head tend to be loud and raucous and, well, slightly rude.  They tend to be generally unhelpful (that’s not counting the husband-in-my-head, who, aside from the small voice, tends to encourage me).

So if the small voice doesn’t belong to me, it could either be a personal tempter (or the devil himself) or my guardian angel (or God).  It could be good or evil.  The thing is, it’s usually about something encouraging, and it often points me back to God, so I feel safe in taking it as a little message from God.

I have two small children.  The gap between what I plan or expect to have happen and what actually happens on any given day is sometimes narrow, and other times as wide as the ocean.  As I was praying my Rosary the other day, realizing that I had probably added an extra Hail Mary, I couldn’t help but see how adding an eleventh Hail Mary is the perfect metaphor for a young mother’s life.

So often, as a mother, I question what I do, I wonder how I could do things better, I quake in the face of the challenge of raising other humans.  So often, as a mother, I find myself at a complete loss, unable to fathom what lies before me and without the resources to continue along.  So often, as a mother, I find myself wishing for different circumstances and trying to juggle too many things at once, and failing.

And then I add an eleventh Hail Mary.

Adding that Hail Mary certainly doesn’t bother God.  He isn’t offended.  Why, then, do I worry about it?

God doesn’t ask me to be perfect.  He asks me to seek, and he reminds me to pray, asking HIM for help, relying on HIM for guidance.

I pray the Rosary because it helps me, even in my most distracted moments, to dwell on Jesus’ life and stay in prayer throughout my day.  I pray the Rosary because it has a pattern that I can remember, one that goes well with my active lifestyle — ten fingers, ten Hail Marys.  And now that I’ve considered the extra Hail Marys I must add in my journey through my daily Rosary, I realize that I pray the Rosary despite my imperfections.

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When Sarah Reinhard set off in her life as a grown-up, she had no idea it would involve horses, writing, and sparkly dress shoes. In her work as a Catholic wife, mom, writer, parish employee, and catechist, she’s learned a lot of lessons and had a lot of laughs. She’s online at and is the author of a number of books

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