In the last year I have read two books written by daughters of Senator Robert F. Kennedy who was murdered by an assassin while in the midst of his 1968 campaign for the presidency of the United States. In each case, I found their reminiscences of Catholic religious practice in their childhood home most revealing and inspiring. Daily mass, family Rosary in the evening, sacraments and sacramentals, plus parental models formed them in the faith.
Although a cradle Catholic, I do not have that deep familial formation in my background. I was taught to say the Rosary by Sisters of St. Joseph (Brentwood) in classes of the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (CCD) on Sunday morning and later on Wednesday afternoons. The Rosary was part of Catholic culture as was the Novena to Our Mother of Perpetual Help every Tuesday evening at church and, later on, May crownings at my Catholic high school. However, Marian devotion was not deeply embedded in the way the Kennedy women describe. Yet, I've always had a Rosary nearby - hanging on my bedpost, or in a small pouch at the bottom of my purse. I have never been admitted into the hospital without a Rosary in my possession. When my then fifteen year old son had an emergency appendectomy, I sat with him in the recovery room throughout the night slipping Rosary beads through my fingers. A desperately worried mother had no better place to register her plea, than to another mother.
When my three sons were teenagers, there were many occasions to commit them to the care of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. If I couldn't be there; if there was nothing I could do to help the situation; she would just have to step in and mother them for me. She has never failed.
Praying the Rosary, however, still remained on the periphery of my spiritual practice. Until now. The current challenges to our nation's well-being, to the capacity of families to support themselves and remain intact, to restoration of a compassionate democratic capitalism, can be said to have brought me to my knees. I find myself so concerned for all, so worried for the future of my sons and grandsons and that of my elderly parents that I have come face to face with my powerlessness. There is nothing I can DO. I have no words to find the solution. Prayer is my only recourse, and it seems, a particular kind of prayer.
As a mother with a very troubled heart, I am drawn to another mother who knows only too well the suffering of the maternal heart. Beads running through my fingers, I just sit with Mother Mary; together we contemplate the human condition and the desperate reality; together we plead for those we love and for a country and world in need of restoration.
My own helplessness has brought me to Mary, mother, sister, friend. I present myself wanting to join her in a spirit of utter abandonment to God's will and power, trusting that in her company our voices combine, mine receiving some of the power it lacks in solo. I sit quietly with her, our soul's magnifying the Lord, our maternal voices confiding and praising.