By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published May 5, 2017
Dear Mother Mary:
Remember me? I was the little girl who wrote you a letter in elementary school—and then the whole class followed Sister outside, where there was a small bonfire, and we tossed our letters in. The idea was that the smoke—with our prayers—would travel to heaven and reach you.
I don’t remember, dear Mother, exactly what I wrote to you, but my requests then were fairly standard. I begged God to watch over my parents and help me stop arguing with my sister. I also dearly longed for a kitten—and may have mentioned that for good measure.
The first prayer I learned was the Hail Mary—also called “the angelic salutation”—and how quickly I memorized it, once I discovered the rosary could help the faithful departed.
Someone I loved dearly—my uncle, Johnny Rosasco—had died, so he was first on the list. How miraculous that a little girl could express her love in this mystical way for the handsome, dark-eyed man, who’d taught her how to spoon whole strawberries from the jam jar.
And, as you know, because children don’t get the nuances of theology, I also had prayer cards for my deceased turtles, Flat-top and Wormy—and said rosaries for them as well. Given the fervor of my prayers, dear Mother, it’s a wonder they didn’t attain sainthood!
There’s no way to know how many longings are fulfilled because of the rosaries prayed each day. How many souls get into heaven? How many babies are born? How many people are healed? (And, yes, how many children eventually get that kitten?)
You know me so well, sweet Mary, so you’re aware of how often I’ve vowed to say a daily rosary—and then things get in the way. Important stuff like taking a walk, doing my push-ups, watching funny animal videos on Facebook—and don’t forget Netflix movies!
Still, you’re the Mother of Mercy, so I trust you’re willing to cut me some slack, just like my earthly mother did. You know how sometimes I can be my own worst enemy—which is why a note on the refrigerator reads: “Be kind to yourself.”
Ever since my sweetheart died, I’ve become more faithful to the rosary. Jef loved this devotion and carried dark blue beads in a black case in his pocket every day. Now they are on the bedside table, a reminder of his devotion to you.
When I say the rosary for him, I’m so moved by the words “pray for us now and at the hour of our death.” That line assures me that, although I wasn’t with him when he died, you were there for him.
How beautiful that even beyond death, I can still give my husband a gift. The beads connect me mystically to him—like links in a chain uniting heaven and earth.
Holding the beads reminds me of the words, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.”
It will soon be Mother’s Day—and even people whose moms have died can still celebrate by venerating their heavenly mother.
In the chapel, I’ll light a votive candle before the luminous icon depicting you with your baby. I’ll ask your prayers to help me carry the cross of widowhood with grace. To realize the Lord is with me on this journey.
To remind myself of your words, “He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.” And to thank God, with all my heart, for sending us his Son—and giving us a mother too.
Artwork (“Our Lady of Fatima”) by Jef Murray. Lorraine Murray’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.