In our last blog, Fr. Bob Weighner introduced the fourth and last leg of our Catechism of the Catholic Church, “how we pray,” discussing the many forms of prayer. Here, Linda Bevec, parishioner of St. Anne gives her personal witness on the power of praying the Rosary. Linda has been a parishioner for six years along with her husband Frank and children Frankie, Claire & Grace. She was baptized Episcopalian, raised Lutheran, sprinkled with a variety of Evangelical Christian beliefs and has loved growing her faith the most in the Catholic church for 17 years.
“The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God…and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.”
Pope Saint Pius X
I’m probably not the best person to be blogging about the Rosary. But I chose this one. Or, more truthfully, it chose me. Having been raised Lutheran, I knew very little about the rosary most of my life. And what I generally thought of the rosary was that it was an ancient Catholic tradition mixed with a bit of hocus-pocus and superstition. Kind of like how, walking home from school as a kid I’d try desperately not to step on a crack or I’d
break my mother’s back. It seemed to me a senseless recitation of detached words for the sake of earning divine graces. As a Lutheran, I felt rather privileged to bypass those ancient rituals and go right to the front of the line in prayer with a “fast pass” to God. No Rosary for me, thank you. Don’t Catholics know they can just pray directly to God?
Fast forward to March 2001. I’ve now been a Catholic for 7 years and converted just before marrying my husband Frank. I like to think I was the more humble one in our relationship giving up my Lutheran faith for the sake of truly becoming “one.” I realized that being Catholic was really not all that different from being Lutheran. Except for the Rosary, which I still didn’t understand or wholeheartedly want to. So, like many Catholics who pick and
choose, I opted out of that one and took what I was willing to accept as being “just enough” Catholic to get by.
Then, in March 2011 something unexpected happened. While in the neonatal intensive care unit with my newborn daughter Claire, I stepped out to the waiting room for a cup of coffee. The days were long and exhausting. Claire was in critical condition after being diagnosed at birth with a rare genetic kidney and liver disease and she was not expected to survive. And as I poured myself a cup of coffee, I sat motionless for some time staring blankly at the TV. I remember a woman sitting in the corner busy making something with her hands and thought perhaps she was knitting. I paid her no attention. I was so weary, so emotionally drained and broken down that I truly felt transparent, as if no one could see the sorrow in my heart or know my pain over the very real possibility of losing my newborn daughter. And then the woman who had been sitting in the corner of the room got up and stood in front of me and handed me a Rosary. And all she said was, “I made this for you and I’d like you to take it.” I took the Rosary into my hands and thanked her. She smiled and walked out. I spent the next 3 months in the hospital going in and out of that waiting room for coffee several times a day. I never saw her again.
That Rosary ended up in a drawer of my night stand for 9 years. Occasionally I’d take it out and look at it, but didn’t know what to do with it. A couple times I wanted to use it, but oddly enough, I didn’t feel privileged enough to do so…like I didn’t really deserve to pray it because I neglected to see it as an important part of my faith for so long. We moved
twice in those 9 years and I always kept it in the same drawer.
In October, 2010 I asked my husband and children if they wanted to go to St. Anne one night and pray the Rosary. We were 2 months from Claire’s kidney transplant and I was going through an especially difficult time with some personal struggles. They all agreed to go and we sat among a small group of parishioners praying the rosary together. My son was beside me and I was so very humbled as he quietly showed me how to hold the Rosary and follow along in prayer with the beads. As we prayed, my mind wandered. I faded in and out of focused prayer thinking of things I needed to pack for Claire’s hospital stay, phone calls I needed to return, unfinished tasks waiting for me at home. And somewhere in the midst of our voices united in the quiet recitation of this beautiful and meditative prayer my eyes were drawn to the statue of Mary above the tabernacle. As I looked at her, I felt her looking at all the pain, all the sorrow and all the fear in my heart. She saw me, she knew me and she had been waiting for me. I looked away, almost afraid to look back, but I felt such peace in her gaze, such love and an immense feeling of her truly knowing what I
was struggling with in my life as a woman of faith, a wife and a mother. And that was the first time I prayed the Rosary.
The Rosary is a perfect blend of vocal, meditative and contemplative prayer. (More on these types of prayers can be found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2700, 2705 and 2709). The Rosary is a walk with Mary, the mother of our Lord, through the mysteries, joy, life, suffering, death and glorious resurrection of her son. And it’s a walk through our lives too where we can bring our own hearts full of joy and sorrow, fear and failings; and reside in her love as she transforms us with peace, faith and forgiveness. It’s a prayer that has deepened my faith in unexpected ways and has given me a closeness with Christ through her.
“By asking Mary to pray for us, we acknowledged ourselves to be poor sinners and we address ourselves to the ‘Mother of Mercy,’ the All-Holy One.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2677)
I pray that you will open your hearts to her love in this beautiful gift of the Rosary. It was a long process for me to get to that point. But she was there waiting for me all that time and she’ll be there for you too.
“The things that we love tell us who we are.” ~ St. Thomas Aquinas
Grace and peace,