I will be the first to tell you that life in my house is chaotic at best. Not only do I have five growing children who are all school age, but I have always been, and probably will always be organized chaos. Currently, I am balancing the household, attending college online and trying to keep a schedule that includes drop-off and pick-up of my children to and from school and extracurriculars after school. It’s a busy life and my husband will agree. When you add in Mass on Sundays and trying to make the time to pray and catechize, I can admit there are times when I am stretched too thin and my patience is gone.
When my husband called us all up to the bedroom one recent Friday to pray the rosary, I was struggling to not complain. I had been focused on a short paper for one of my online courses and I wanted to finish. I held my breath for a second to not let out a groan, and I climbed the stairs thinking, I don’t have time for this. When I kneeled by my bed and helped the younger ones hold their rosaries, I was thinking maybe we can just do a decade and be done with it. Then my husband spoke. He said, “I know we have been trying to pray more, and I thought since we are all home tonight, it is a good opportunity to say the rosary.” One by one, my children said that they agreed, and I suddenly knew how wrong I was for thinking and feeling that way. I stopped my thoughts and temptations to do my own thing and I prepared for what would be the most influential rosary I ever said.
My husband opened his Daily Roman Missal and began to instruct, “Tonight, since it’s Friday we will be praying the Sorrowful Mysteries.” Then he began the prayer. We meditated on each mystery while we were praying the repetitive Hail Marys and when we reached our last decade and the final Sorrowful Mystery: The Crucifixion and Death of Our Lord, I listened intently to the description that my husband read, “Now He is on high...And close to her Son, at the foot of the cross, stand Mary...and Mary, the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene….” It was in that moment I knew I was hearing what I needed to hear. After all my internal complaints and struggles, the three Marys taught me the lesson I needed. At the foot of the cross, these women, who were so devoted to Christ, were watching true suffering, seeing pain, experiencing sorrow, and hoping in what was to come. As my family and I finished the rosary and went on to the rest of the evening, bedtimes and schoolwork and movie time, I continued to contemplate the three Marys and what they could teach me. What did they offer in those moments of sorrow for Jesus, who were they, what can they teach me now?
The Venerable Fulton J. Sheen wrote often about the Blessed Virgin, and in his Seven Words of Jesus and Mary: Lessons on Cana and Calvary he said,
“Can you not see that if Christ himself willed to be physically formed in her for nine months and then be spiritually formed by her for thirty years, it is to her that we must go to learn how to have Christ formed in us?”
Whoa. In my desire to be alone to finish my paper for school, I forgot this important lesson that the rosary alone can teach us. Bound up in the decades of the Hail Marys and other prayers we find the truth of the Gospel. If we are His people and want to change our ways, it is certainly life-changing to pray to Christ’s Mother, Mother to us all, to help us in our weakness. Fulton Sheen wrote in Mary’s Wild Tranquility about the role of Mary in salvation history,
“What He did...was to ask a woman, representing humanity, freely to give Him a human nature with which He would start a new humanity. As there was an old humanity in Adam, so there would be a new humanity in Christ, Who was God made man through the free agency of a human mother. ...When finally she did give Him birth, it was as if a great ciborium had opened, and she was holding in her fingers the Guest Who was also the Host of the world, as if to say, ‘Look, this is the Lamb of God; look, this is He Who takes away the sins of the world.’”
“Our Mother” given to us at the foot of the cross by Christ and so integral in our salvation is integral in showing us strength in our weakness.
The “other” Mary is shrouded in mystery, different identities, and theories. What we know for certain is there, at the Crucifixion of Jesus, was the Blessed Virgin being supported by Mary, wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. Although, this “other” Mary is not mentioned the same way again in the Gospel Narratives it is agreed upon that Mary, wife of Cleophas, was at the burial of Christ along with Mary Magdalene. Sometimes I need to be this “other” Mary; no big story, no defining elements just content to be with Jesus, to spend time with Him in prayer and reflection. It doesn’t always have to be a big show, it can be as simple as just being there with Him fully. Making the effort to pay attention during Mass, which is automatically difficult with little ones in the pew or putting aside my other responsibilities to spend the necessary time makes all the difference if I want to be transformed by prayer.
Mary Magdalene had her own special role of “apostle to the apostles” and was one of the first witnesses of Jesus Resurrected. Pope Benedict XVI, in his Angelus on July 23, 2006, said Mary Magdalene,
“...reminds us of a fundamental truth: a disciple of Christ is one who, in the experience of human weakness, has had the humility to ask for his help, has been healed by him and has set out following closely after him, becoming a witness of the power of his merciful love that is stronger than sin and death.”
Mary Magdalene shows me that I am a follower and a sinner and that I am not going to get it right all the time, however, I cannot let my sin keep me down, I must use Mary Magdalene’s example and strive to be a devoted disciple.
All our life is a struggle and it is wrought with ups and downs, gains and losses, time well spent, and time wasted. Saying the rosary is not time wasted, ever; but it’s easy to listen to the enemy who insists upon us forgetting God and doesn’t want us to pray the rosary so he cannot feel the sting Mary brings upon his head. October is the Month of the Holy Rosary and it is a great time to commit to saying the rosary more often. At Holy Trinity, we can do just that on Sunday Mornings at 8:30 am before the 9:00 am Mass. I encourage those who can come a little earlier, to sit at the foot of the Cross and pray the rosary. In my weakness, I found encouragement from the three Marys at the foot of the Cross, and as disciples of Jesus may we all seek ways to encourage and support each other every day.
“There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve with prayer of the Holy Rosary.” ~ Sister Lucia of Fatima
~ Amanda DeSalvatore