My dear children, I call you anew to pray,—The Blessed Mother to visionaries in Medjugorje
pray, pray and do not forget that I am with you.
I intercede before God for each of you
until your joy in Him is complete.
Thank you for having responded to my call.
My five-year-old niece snuggles in closer to my daughter and another cousin. As she smiles up at the older girls, I can tell she feels safe and content. She concentrates on the moment. All three girls finger their rosaries.
“Holy Mary, mother of God …,” the three recite.
Across the room, my dad sits with my sister and her daughter. Dad prays with eyes closed. My niece squirms. Next to me on the sofa, my son and a nephew, both nearly teens, sit quietly together. Two younger nephews cozy up to their parents, my brothers, in chairs flanking the crackling fire. One nephew sucks his thumb. My two sisters-in-law, husband, mother, and brother-in-law reverently add to the chorus.
“Pray for us sinners …”
As the busyness of my day is calmed by the meditative prayer of the rosary, I silently thank Jesus for this gift of time to share prayer with my family. Once a month, the eighteen of us, ranging from age three to seventy-two, join the Blessed Mother to pray for peace, for one another, and for others we know in need of intercession.
Our communal prayer has bonded, grounded, guided, and healed us for nearly a decade.
Hardly saints, and sometimes sinners, my family is like many others. We juggle commitments, struggle with setbacks, and try to count our blessings as we work, raise our children, nurture relationships, and journey in faith. Sometimes when the monthly prayer meeting rolls around, we get distracted by work, school, and travel schedules. Sometimes a bad mood or illness interferes with our willingness to pray. Sometimes, when the weather is bad, we question whether we should drive across town to the
host’s house. Sometimes we’re just plain tired, and would prefer to crawl into bed.
But we persevere because we know that regular prayer, including prayer with others, is essential to sustain our faith. Through prayer, our faith comes alive.
Glancing at my dad, I thank Jesus again, this time because Dad feels and looks great. Diagnosed with kidney cancer almost three years ago, his stage IV disease has been stable for months despite predictions to the contrary from his doctors at the Mayo Clinic.
My family prays daily for a miraculous healing … and also for acceptance of whatever God wills.
Seated close to my dad, my sister-in-law is peaceful as she journeys through chemotherapy. Her battle with major surgery and treatment is nearly over, and she has great hope for her future. Nearby, my younger brother looks rested and strong as he leads our prayers. I’m grateful that he no longer wrestles with chronic fatigue syndrome, a debilitating illness that kept him from a full life for nearly four years.
It is through family prayer, joined with Mary’s powerful intercession, my family believes, that we have experienced these physical healings. Just as powerfully, our prayers have led to spiritual and emotional healing too.
The gospel tells us that prayer can change anything. It provides spiritual protection, discernment, comfort, and grace. It can convert hearts and produce peace. It can heal sinners and lead souls from purgatory. On occasion, prayer can even result in miracles. My family continues to face challenges and crosses, as does every family. But when we bring our petitions to Jesus through family prayer, even the youngest members feel his presence. When, as parents, we model our faith for the next generation, we grow in grace.
“Hail holy queen …”
My family finishes five decades of the rosary, offers special intentions, and concludes with a Memorare. Now my little niece squeals. It’s treat time. Tonight she helps serve rich gooey chocolate brownies, her favorite.
As the kids chatter and play and the adults mingle as friends, I offer a final silent prayer: “Thank you, Jesus, for the divine blessings and hope you offer. “Thank you for the gift of this family praying together … and staying together … in You.”
This article is adapted from a chapter in the book, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Everyday Catholicism: Real Stories of God in Our Lives. It is available as an ebook or paperback from your favorite bookstore or online through Sophia Institute Press.
We also recommend the article “Rosary Meditations for Prayer During the COVID-19 Pandemic” by Fr. Edward Looney.