A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The Family Rosary

by Anne Kerrigan

by Anne Kerrigan

‘The holy Rosary is a storehouse of countless blessings’ -- Blessed Alan de la Roche, 1428-1475, Priest and Theologian.

I grew up in the 50s in an Irish Catholic neighbourhood in New York, in the age of parochial schools, uniforms, prayer in school, and particularly, prayer at home, namely the rosary. Many people in the neighbourhood said the rosary together in the evening as a family. The schools encouraged it, and the parents loved it, particularly, the mothers. The kids, on the other hand, were not fond of being forced to get down on their knees, and pray the rosary every night. We prayed enough in school! But we did it because we were afraid not to do it. I cannot think of any of my friends who would rebel, complaining that they didn’t want to say the rosary!  That would border on the heretical; so we suffered in silence. Additionally, the nuns might find out about your complaints, and that would compound the ‘heresy’. On the whole, it was easier just to say it, without whining.Rosary Child

Mom would make us kneel down each night in front of a small, stone grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes. Mom would lead the prayers, saying the first part of the Hail Mary. Then, we would all respond, saying the second part. I recall my sister, Lorraine, and I would break into the second half of the Hail Mary before Mom totally finished the first part, and the others would follow. Usually, Mom would not stop us, since it didn’t sound too disrespectful. Then, Lorraine and I thought we would keep trying to “break in” sooner, to see how fast we could finish the rosary. The sooner we finished, the sooner we could go outside to play with our friends! It became a contest of sorts-how fast could we finish? The ravages of the years have swallowed the details of the exact timing, but we often managed to finish the rosary in record time. Of course, one night, Mom caught on. She said, “STOP! You are rushing through the rosary. Start over!” Start over? That stopped the race to finish quickly. Who wanted to start over?

Then, one night, an incident occurred which forever changed our attitude toward the rosary.
My youngest brother, Kevin, was about 2 or 3 years old at the time. He was an adorable little guy; quiet and very well behaved. So, when we heard a series of screams pierce the air, we all ran to the sound. It seems that Kevin had managed to get his little hands on a bottle of Clorox; the bleach was all over his face. He continued screaming, rubbing his eyes furiously.Rosary baby

My dad grabbed Kevin, and immediately dragged him into the bathroom. Dad pried Kevin’s eyes open, and put his entire face under the faucet in the bathtub. The water was on full force, spraying everywhere. Dad continued to hold Kevin’s eyes open, dousing them with the water, while the screaming continued. It was a frightening scene, and I can recall it to this day. While Dad was holding Kevin under the faucet, Mom gathered us all together. “Get on your knees,” she said. “We are saying the rosary for Kevin.” We dropped to our knees without hesitation; it seemed that only a miracle would save Kevin’s eyesight, and who else could perform such a miracle but Mary? We prayed in desperation. Finally, the rosary was over, and the screaming subsided. Mom and Dad gathered Kevin up, and rushed him to the hospital; it was a very subdued atmosphere while we waited to see what had happened.

It seemed like hours and hours before they arrived home. Kevin’s face was bandaged, but the doctor said that his eyesight had been saved by dad’s quick action. Of course, but we all knew that, in addition to my Dad’s efforts, the Blessed Mother had played a significant role. I don’t recall us complaining about the rosary ever again. And, I hope that Mary, as a mother, understood our childish reluctance to pray the rosary.
‘You will obtain all you ask of me by recitation of the Rosary’ -- Our Lady to Blessed Alan de la Roche, 1460.

‘The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results’ -- St. Josemarie Escriva, 1902-1975, Priest and Theologian.

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