Do you have a statue of Mary in your home? I can still picture the one that sat on top of our refrigerator at home when I was a child. Why was it on the refrigerator? Well, that was one place where it was less likely to be knocked off! It was a beautiful image of Our Lady in soft pink and blue, holding the Child Jesus with a yellow gold halo behind her head. Next to her was a smaller statue of St. Anthony, also holding the Child Jesus. My mom gave me that statue a couple years ago and I have since repainted him. (You’ll notice the line under Jesus’ neck. Both he and St. Anthony have had heads re-glued a number of times!)
Every night, as we gathered around the kitchen table to pray the rosary, Mom took down Mary and St. Anthony from the refrigerator. She cleared away a space on the table amidst papers and dishes. The lights were shut off and a single vigil candle was lit in front of them. Everyone had their spot to kneel. Pam was around the corner by the sink, Sandra under the microwave, Kathleen by the cupboards, Jim and Jon next to the pantry and I was by the refrigerator. Mom was right by the table.
It was a simple ritual, but one that has stayed with me the rest of my life. When I went off to college I didn’t have a statue of Mary, but a stand-up picture of the Sacred Heart and Immaculate Heart. I couldn’t light a vigil in my dorm room but I wanted to. There was something about the glow of the candle that reminded me of prayer and of God.
Catholic rituals and symbols are something that have often gotten lost in our busy world. Some of the practices your parents or grandparents did may have become distant memories. But it’s not too late to revive them – or to start something new. Your children can likely hum the tune of a favorite video game or give the punch line to a clever commercial. How about providing them with a Catholic memory that will fill their soul and stay with them forever?
During this month of October, the month of the rosary, consider taking time to pray all or part of the rosary with your children. Make it a special event: picture/statue, candles, soft lighting. Give them parts to lead or take turns reading a short reflection on the mysteries. Maybe ask each child to draw a picture of Mary or of one of the mysteries that can be on display where you pray. Let them take turns lighting the candle. After each decade sing the refrain of “Immaculate Mary.” By little practices such as this, they can grow in a love and devotion to our Mother who loves us so much…and perhaps it might even deepen your devotion as well. God bless you!
Sister Mary Angela