Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Carnival with a Rosary Twist

I've had rosaries on my mind for a day or two...and it shows in this week's Catholic Carnival, which I'm hosting over at my blog. You might enjoy it for the collection of lovely posts, or you might enjoy it because there's a special rosary-related gift for all readers. :) Go on over and see what you think.

A Few of My Favorite Things

We've been watching The Sound of Music quite a bit in the last few days, and I catch myself humming "A Few of My Favorite Things" at odd moments. Inspired by a meme I've seen around (specifically at luminous miseries and Adoro te Devote), I thought I'd share some of my favorite rosaries with you.

My First Rosary:
When I entered the Catholic Church in April, 2001, my dear mother-in-law game me this rosary. Though it's broken (it broke at the medal), I'll never part with it. I learned to pray on this rosary, bumbling along and feeling the wooden beads beneath my fingers. This is actually a replacement - the original one that she gave me only had nine beads on the first and last decades, and she took it back to the store, demanding a replacement. When she gave it to me, she apologized. "I didn't have very much money to spend," she explained, "but I thought the wooden beads would remind you of the cross." That they have...and of her including me as a member of her family.

My Car Rosary:
Padre gave me this rosary after his last trip to the Holy Land. It's made of olive wood, and like my first rosary, the wooden beads remind me of the Cross. They're also easy to hold while I drive, and on one of the decades (either the first or last, I think), two of the beads are stuck together. This imperfection makes me think, inevitably, of my own imperfection, and of how God can take my weaknesses and use them for his glory. (Now, if I could only cooperate with those graces!)

My Purse Rosaries:
These are all-twine knotted rosaries, made by my friends at Real Life Rosary. The baby blue rosary lives in my wallet-purse, and the white one (which has gold flecks in it) is in a side pocket of my main purse. They're ideal for the oh-no-the-Toddlerina-is-wailing moments at Mass, when she discards everything else. They are unbreakable and I find the knots comforting somehow.

My Kitchen Rosary:
Maybe it sounds odd to have a rosary in the kitchen, but I usually start my days in the kitchen, nursing a cup of coffee and praying a rosary and Morning Prayer. I love the bright blue of this rosary, which reminds me of Mary's mantle. I also love that this rosary reminds me of a road trip with friends and of Rosary Army (who provided it in the goodie bags of the Catholic New Media Celebration in Atlanta).

My Pretty Rosary:
Padre does a lot of international traveling. Recently, I started asking him to bring me a rosary from his destinations. The first time I asked, he brought back the Holy Land rosary above. This rosary was from his trip to Ireland, and it's made of some kind of special stone (yes, I forget). The square beads are held together with links and there's an Irish cross (at least, that's what I think it's called). The beads are all different, and they feel funny when I hold them. This is a good prompt for me to consider how discomfort isn't the end of the world, and how things that are pretty can be truly beautiful when they serve a purpose. I keep this rosary in a drawer in the kitchen, and when I have a special intention, or just a hankering that I need all the help I can get, I pull it out.

My Everyday Rosary:
This is the rosary I've been using everyday lately. I bought this rosary (and three others to give as gifts) after seeing a close-up picture and then reading about them over at Blessed Among Men. I love that with each Hail Mary, I'm holding a little baby in my fingers. My girls like it too; they inevitably want to hold the "baby rosary" and Toddlerina makes a sound suspiciously like "pitty" when she sees it.

That's it for me. Do you have favorite rosaries? Comments open.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

The Gift of a Rosary

Do you have a favorite rosary? Maybe it was given to you by someone special, or maybe you inherited it from your grandmother, or maybe you purchased it during a trip.

Would you listen to the small voice telling you to give that rosary away?

Read about Katherine Valentine's amazing rosary ministry over at CatholicMom.com, and prepare to appreciate the rosary - and that special rosary - even more.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Rosary Miracles

I just came across a story of a rosary miracle, via this week's Catholic Carnival, and couldn't resist sharing it here.
The rosary is such a powerful prayer. I have been amazed again and again by the incredible outpouring of grace it causes.

In the last few years of my mother's Alzheimer's Disease we made an incredible discovery. Someone had mentioned to me that even those in advanced stages of dementia people can sometimes remember prayers that they have always known, that somehow that information is stored in a very deep part of the brain.

We decided to say the rosary with my mom. Her condition was very advanced at this point. She was slumped over in a wheelchair all the time, staring blankly into space. It was not even clear if she could actually see, she was so unresponsive. She made no eye contact. There was no indication that Mom was actually in there, if you know what I mean.
Read the rest over at A Catholic Mother's Thoughts.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Madonna and Child
Painting by Giovanni Battista Salvi

from "The Precious Blood" and "Mother" by The Monastery, Precious Blood, Edmonton, Alberta

O Holy Virgin Mary, conceived without sin, I choose thee this day, to be the Lady and Mistress of our home, and I pray thee, in the name of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus, thy Divine Son, and of thy Immaculate Conception, to preserve it from fire and lightning, from tempests and thieves, from cholera, influenza, diphtheria, malaria, and all other contagious and pestilential diseases.

Bless and protect every member of our family, preserve us from sin, from sudden and unprovided death, and from all other evils and accidents, in the name and through the merits of the most Precious Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Mary Moments: Honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe

This month, we're honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe. If you're unfamiliar with this depiction of Mary, stick around and we'll discover more about it together. If this is an old favorite, or perhaps something you're lukewarm-at-best about, we invite you to stay as well. This month we have a collection of posts that warrant at least one mug of tea or coffee or hot chocolate (or, for those of you in the warmer climes, a glass of something cool).

O Immaculate Virgin, Mother of the true God and Mother of the Church!, who from this place reveal your clemency and your pity to all those who ask for your protection, hear the prayer that we address to you with filial trust, and present it to your Son Jesus, our sole Redeemer.

"All these years later, that statue is my favorite one in my Mary Garden. Over the years, it has been a source of conversation for visitors and even workmen working on my house. Sure enough, Our Lady keeps mending souls. The men and the woman who have ventured through my garden, are drawn to her, and in conversation, many of them have told of the pain they have suffered from having had abortions or their wife or girlfriend aborting their child. And they all seem to name their aborted children Matthew or Mary. Our Lady never stops pleading for her children." Read the whole post.

"The first year we were married, way back in 1986, my Mom gave us a beautiful wooden carved statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. She is very special to us and has always held a very special place in our home. In 2002 we discovered how special we are to her." Read the whole post.

"Our Lady of Guadalupe is the most familiar New World image of Mary and the only true picture of the Mother of God. As the patroness of the Americas and of the unborn, she holds a special place in the hearts of many." Read the whole post.

Mother of Mercy, Teacher of hidden and silent sacrifice, to you, who come to meet us sinners, we dedicate on this day all our being and all our love. We also dedicate to you our life, our work, our joys, our infirmities and our sorrows. Grant peace, justice and prosperity to our peoples; for we entrust to your care all that we have and all that we are, our Lady and Mother. We wish to be entirely yours and to walk with you along the way of complete faithfulness to Jesus Christ in His Church; hold us always with your loving hand.

"The world of a young expectant mother waits with her in the months of her pregnancy with anticipation and excitement for the unborn child to arrive. Everyone close to her rallies and prepares with her as the time gets ever nearer. There are things to buy, things to make, things to clean, and things to clear away all in preparation for the child so loved and desired. With each month that passes, the family becomes more aware of the changes that will occur, for a child will make their world anew and different. No one in this little family will ever be the same, no one in this little world will ever know life without this new child in the months and years to come." Read the whole post.

"If you want to celebrate Our Lady of G, as I quickly learned, go to a Spanish Mass. It was, in word, fabulous. There was a procession to honor her, winding around the Mary grotto and into the church. There was a mariachi band dressed in white on the altar. “Viva la Virgen!” shouted the priest and various lectors. And, at the end of the service, parishioners crowded the altar, bearing small statues or framed images of Our Lady. They waited patiently for the priest to bless them before leaving, taking the beloved icons back into their homes." Read the whole post.

We'll pause in our quotable posts to share this link to activities and a prayer and this link to some fine feast day cuisine.

Virgin of Guadalupe, Mother of the Americas, we pray to you for all the Bishops, that they may lead the faithful along paths of intense Christian life, of love and humble service of God and souls. Contemplate this immense harvest, and intercede with the Lord that He may instill a hunger for holiness in the whole people of God, and grant abundant vocations of priests and religious, strong in the faith and zealous dispensers of God’s mysteries.

"As a pro-life activist, I have had a strong devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron of the unborn, for many years. I have taken her image with me to the abortion mills and have witnessed the power of her presence in saving human life. However, on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 2005, I experienced my own personal miracle." Read the whole post.

"As a pro-life activist, I have had a strong devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron of the unborn, for many years. I have taken her image with me to the abortion mills and have witnessed the power of her presence in saving human life. However, on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe in 2005, I experienced my own personal miracle." Read the whole post.

"Today is the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Working in a parish where the preponderance of the people are Latino, we have a huge celebration for Our Lady of Guadalupe on the Sunday closest to her feast. I decided to share some pictures that my brother took of Our Lady's procession from last year. Though it was drizzly and nasty outside, there was still quite a crowd for the procession." Read the whole post.

Grant to our homes the grace of loving and respecting life in its beginnings, with the same love with which you conceived in your womb the life of the Son of God. Blessed Virgin Mary, protect our families, so that they may always be united, and bless the upbringing of our children.

"Share the story of Saint Juan Diego with your kids, and discuss ways they can increase their faith and obedience." Read the whole post.

"In today's gospel reading we read about the Annunciation, where the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary to tell her that she has been chosen by God to bear the Son of the Most High. And as we all know, Mary's response was yes, for as she so beautifully tells the angel; "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done according to your word." Mary models for us what it means to be a true believer and servant of God. Saying yes and trusting in God in even the most impossible situations." Read the whole post.

"Today we had our 7th annual Our Lady of Guadalupe fiesta with a few friends and our dear priest." Read the whole post.

Our hope, look upon us with compassion, teach us to go continually to Jesus and, if we fall, help us to rise again, to return to Him, by means of the confession of our faults and sins in the Sacrament of Penance, which gives peace to the soul.

"It's been 16 years since the day my husband and I got married on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We chose that feast day specifically in honor of Our Lady. It was a icy cold, windy and snowy Saturday morning that those brave enough to make it out in such dangerous conditions came out for our wedding." Read the whole post.

"Here is Our Lady of Guadalupe to color or craft with as you choose." Read the whole post.

"Today we celebrate the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Juan Diego, and the miraculous image that was revealed in his tilma when Juan approached the bishop, as Our Lady instructed him." Read the whole post.

We beg you to grant us a great love for all the holy Sacraments, which are, as it were, the signs that your Son left us on earth.

"The children decorated the table cloth with pretty foil stars and we are floating 2 pink rose candles next to a Strawberry Rose Cake." Read the whole post.

"On this feast day, we remember unborn children and their mothers. (The image is of a pregnant Aztec woman.) And so, I thought it would be a good day to respond to comments I’ve received recently from those who object to the idea that adoption should be represented as a pro-life alternative to abortion." Read the whole post.

"As with all good Catholic images there is abundant symbolism that was specifically designed to speak to the hearts of the people to whom she brought her message ... the Aztecs. I remember when our priest put out a flyer about this and I was just knocked out at how meaningful every single thing in the image is." Read the whole post.

Thus, Most Holy Mother, with the peace of God in our conscience, with our hearts free from evil and hatred, we will be able to bring to all true joy and true peace, which come to us from your son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

"The feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe is a wonderful opportunity to have a celebration. Under this title as the patroness of the Americas and the patroness of the unborn she is a very important intercessor. It is such a festive day and there is so much symbolism, history, and cultural tradition associated with this day as well, which opens up many possibilities for activities and feasting. As a family we have commemorated this day in different ways, different years." Read the whole post.

"Yesterday morning, I tried to start my morning prayers with a rosary. I muddled through the opening part, and the baby woke up. I made it through another decade, and lost concentration and patience with a three-year-old. I forgot all about it as we tried to get out of the door on time for a doctor’s appointment. In the midst of this failure, I thought about Our Lady of Guadalupe, and what she has always meant to me." Read the whole post.

"We began our celebration of the Feast (in Mexico: Solemnity) of Our Lady of Guadalupe with Mañanitas at 5:00 in the morning." Read the whole post and watch the video.

Next month we'll be taking a break from the Mary Moments carnivals. Look for a special announcement for the February edition of the Mary Moments carnival!

Are you interested in helping with the Mary Moments carnivals? Email Sarah at peerybingle [at] gmail [dot] com.

A few words more:
  • A special thank you to Esther for this month's special Mary Moments logo. Esther is the genius behind all of our Mary Moments graphics, and she unfailingly gets just the right feeling across (in less than the time it takes me to hit send and come back to the computer, most of the time!). Thanks, Esther!
  • The text punctuating this month's carnival comes from John Paul II's prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe, which you can find in a lovely ready-to-print format here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Our Lady of Guadalupe

Today we celebrate the appearance of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Juan Diego, and the miraculous image that was revealed in his tilma when Juan approached the bishop, as Our Lady instructed him. A chronology of the events surrounding this tradition may be found here.

Julie Malchow, a woman who contacted me after reading Behold Your Mother, sent me this slide show that I'd like to share with you in honor of the feastday of the Patronness of the Americas. I hope you find it as fascinating and inspiring as I did! Listen to her words to Juan Diego:
"Let not your heart be disturbed. Do not fear that sickness, nor any other sickness or anguish. Am I not here, who am your Mother? Are you not under my protection? Am I not your health? Are you not happily within my fold? What else do you wish? Do not grieve nor be disturbed by anything."
Juan Diego was canonized by John Paul II in 2002; Pope Pius XII declared The Virgin of Guadalupe Patronness of the Americas in 1946. While we are not obliged to believe in the contents of private revelation, we can follow confidently the example of our Church leaders who have put themselves under her protection time and again.
As the handmaid of the Lord, the Blessed Mother does nothing on her own power; hers is pure reflected glory as she carries the hope of Christ out into the world. Her hands -- glorified yet fully human -- are a mother's hands, hers a mother's heart. United with the heart of God the Father, ever close to God the Son, adored by God the Spirit, she is God's messenger of light to a world trapped in darkness. "My little child, crawl upon my lap. Am I not your mother?"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Our Lady of Guadalupe: by Christine Trollinger

One fine spring day, a few years ago, I was running an errand for my daughter. She had asked me to pick up some plants from a local nursery/statuary yard that the owner, had offered to give her for her window boxes.

I have had a Mary Garden for years and love to browse statuary whenever I see some, but on that particular day, I was totally engrossed in just hurrying over there, retrieving the pro-offered plants and getting back home to my own spring planting. At the time my small patio garden had all the statuary I thought it needed. I certainly had no plans to explore the nurseries large selection. Well, as they say, the best laid plans are easily undone and for me especially when Our Lady is involved.

As I pulled up in the parking lot, my eye spotted the biggest and most gorgeous,” Our Lady of Guadalupe “statue I had ever seen. Naturally, I made a quick detour into the statuary yard to look at it. Inspecting it up close, it quickly became an “I must have it urge.” The strange thing was that it had no price or sign on it like all the others in the yard. But I quickly became convinced by perusing the prices of other statues in the yard that this was a high end statuary business, and my tiny budget would never stretch to buy it even if I could think of a place to put it.

Sighing with longing, I pressed a kiss to the hands of the Statue and chuckled a quick response saying; “Well, my beautiful Lady, I hope you find a very beautiful Garden and someone to love you as much as I do. With that, I went on into the nursery office to retrieve the plants my daughter had sent me for. The only employee around turned out to be the woman I was suppose to see for the plants. While she went to retrieve them for me, I browsed the little nic nac’s they had inside the office, just killing time. As soon as she returned from the back office, my plan was to thank her and hurry on my way.

Again, those best laid plans got way laid as the woman was so nice and I just had to ask her how much the Statue of “Our Lady of Guadalupe” was. She looked very puzzled at my question and said: “What Statue is that.” I pointed out the window to the Statue and she laughed and said;”OH! Is that what it is called? We received it by mistake and had no idea what it was called. It’s too big and heavy to return so we just decided to keep it and sell it. The Price is $400. “
"Well worth it," I responded. I told her that I was sure someone will really love to have that one as it is extra special, especially in these times of so much confusion concerning the alarming abortion rate this country is in.

So many women who feel overwhelmed and confused when facing an unplanned pregnancy don’t realize that the life of an unborn child is very precious to God. God loves those poor mothers so much, and Our Lady of Guadalupe is a wonderful devotion which symbolizes Gods love and mercy for woman and children, especially those who make the mistake of aborting their children, thinking it will solve the problems they face.

In the blink of an eye, the woman’s face dropped and tears began to flow. She sobbed so hard and I held her in my arms, as she began to tell me her story. She sobbingly explained that she had aborted her baby boy, just a few months earlier and felt so guilty and ashamed of her decision. She asked me over and over, if I thought God would ever forgive her. Cradling her in my arms, I assured her that indeed, God could and does forgive her.

I told her the story of Juan Diego and Our Lady of Guadalupe and how Mary’s message was still relevant today. God knew from all eternity, Abortion would destroy many lives, but that those little lives are not really lost. The babies are safe in His arms, and the Mothers are precious to Him too. Mistakes are made by all of us, especially in difficult situations.

As she calmed down and listened, I gently took her hand and said; “Have you named your little boy?” She replied, yes, I think of him as Matthew. Then I told her about Project Rachael and promised to get her all the information on it.

The next afternoon, as I had promised, I returned with the information I had promised her. Of course I prayed many prayers before that, asking Our Lady to comfort the woman and help her get the healing she needed.

When I walked into the office she rushed toward me and exclaimed; “I can’t thank you enough for listening to me. I had my first restful night in many months. I dreamed of my baby and OH! He is so beautiful and happy. I dreamt he said, “I forgive you, Mommy, and so does God Our Father.”

After giving her the information and a few words of encouragement, I turned to leave promising to remember her in my prayers. And as I was leaving she said; “You know, that statue didn’t cost us anything because the supplier sent it by mistake and didn’t want to pay the return shipping charges. Would you like to have it?

All these years later, that statue is my favorite one in my Mary Garden. Over the years, it has been a source of conversation for visitors and even men working on my house. Sure enough, Our Lady keeps mending souls. The men and the woman who have ventured through my garden, are drawn to her, and in conversation, many of them have told of the pain they have suffered from having had abortions or their wife or girlfriend aborting their child. And they all seem to name their aborted children Matthew or Mary. Our Lady never stops pleading for her children.

Motherhood Changes You

Suzanne from Blessed Among Men shares a reflection of Mary's motherhood that is fitting for all of us to consider, especially during Advent, when we prepare for the coming of the Christ Child.

Here's a snippet:
As Catholics, and especially during this season of expectation and nativity, we honor the motherhood of Mary. She was the mother not of a "blob of tissue" before His birth and not simply of a human nature after His birth. Mary, the Church affirmed in the early centuries and for the preservation of the true faith, is the mother of a person as all mothers are mothers of persons. Mary is blessed among women and a mother to us all because that person is the second Person of the Divine Trinity, the Word of the Father, the First Born into the resurrection, the God man, Jesus Christ, who saved us all from death and offers us eternal life. And there is the hope. In Him, all can find healing. In Him, all are changed.
Do go read the entire thing.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

"I am the Immaculate Conception"

Only four years after this dogma was officially declared by Pope Pius IX in the document "Ineffabilis Deus" on December 8, 1854, the Blessed Virgin appeared to fourteen-year-old Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes to confirm what had been a universal feast of the Church since 1476.

Have you ever wondered what was "immaculate" about the way Mary was conceived? Didn't St. Anne and St. Joachim conceive Mary in the way married couples usually do?

The "Catholic Encyclopedia" offers this explanation:
The term conception does not mean the active or generative conception by her parents. Her body was formed in the womb of the mother, and the father had the usual share in its formation. The question does not concern the immaculateness of the generative activity of her parents. Neither does it concern the passive conception absolutely and simply (conceptio seminis carnis, inchoata), which, according to the order of nature, precedes the infusion of the rational soul. The person is truly conceived when the soul is created and infused into the body. Mary was preserved exempt from all stain of original sin at the first moment of her animation, and sanctifying grace was given to her before sin could have taken effect in her soul.

Here we have a beautiful image of how a married couple participates as co-creators of life, by God's design. In the case of Mary, God had chosen her to bear His Son and to bestow upon Him His humanity -- all that made Him truly a man. To prepare her for this miracle, another miracle was needed. Nothing but the purest vessel could have withstood such an intimate encounter with the Almighty.

Immaculate Conception,
You who stand
before the Throne of Grace and plead for me.

I ask not for great treasure, but for ample gratitude;
I ask not for great fame, but for constant faithfulness;
I ask not for great intellect, but for simple wisdom.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for me,
That one day by God's grace
I will be just like you.

Photo credit: "The Artchive" of Diego Velasquez "The Immaculate Conception"

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wear Blue in Honor of Mary

Tomorrow is a major Marian feast day, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. (We'll have more about that tomorrow, so be sure to check back!)

In my blogging this morning, I found out about a pretty neat way to honor Mary tomorrow, and I wanted to share it with you too:

My youth group leader was giving a talk one night and he said, "There are over a billion Catholics in the world. If Catholics decided to wear the color blue tomorrow, everyone would be like...Blue is a cool color." And that made me have this crazy idea.... What if all of us Catholics actually did that? So I decided in honor of our mother Mary, on December 8th, which is The Feast of The Immaculate Conception, we will all wear the color light blue. Please help me accomplish this goal! Invite all your Catholic friends! Even if you are not Catholic and you want to honor Mary...that's cool too. Join us in this movement and be a witness to the world!

"If you are what you should be, you will set the whole world on fire. Let the truth be your delight...proclaim it...but with a certain congeniality."
-- Saint Catherine of Siena
So let's wear blue to celebrate this very special feast day, shall we?

Hat tip to Julie at Happy Catholic.

Join us in Honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe

Image source

In December, we will honor Our Lady of Guadalupe with our Mary Moments carnival. We welcome your feast day celebration ideas, traditions, recipes, or reflections. Do you have a special devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe? Have you felt a special bond with this image of Mary? Can you take a few moments to share it with us as we assemble a bouquet for Our Mother on this special feast day?

Submissions are due by December 12, using the online form or by emailing me at peerybingle [at] gmail [dot] com. If you don't have a blog, you can still participate! I'll post your entry as a guest post over at my blog. Mary Moments: Honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe will be live on December 15.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Thanks, Esther!: A Review of "Behold Your Mother"

In the coming week we will be celebrating two Marian feasts: The Feast of the Immaculate Conception (December 8), and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe (December 12). This might be a great time to pick up your undoubtedly dogeared copy of Behold Your Mother and ponder anew the mysteries of the Incarnation.

It appears that "Hawaii Mom" was doing just that. Yesterday she sent me this review of my book Behold Your Mother. She writes:

"The stories Heidi shares are stories that help me too as a Catholic go to our Blessed Mother for help. I would always go directly to Jesus for help. Ever since I was a teen I have always thought of him as my big brother and I never hesitated to ask for his help.

"It was slowly over the years that I have grown in my devotion to the Blessed Mother in the way my sister and mom have always had.

Are you looking for the perfect Christmas gift for someone on your list -- a grandmother or other elderly relative, perhaps, who already has everything she needs but who has a great devotion to the Blessed Mother? This may be just what you're looking for ... I'll even throw in a free sample of my favorite herbal tea, so she can sip in style!

To order my books, just click here!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Looking for a Christmas Gift?

Do you have someone in your life who is just starting to warm up to the Blessed Mother -- curious, perhaps, but not quite "there" yet?

I'd like to suggest that you order a copy of Behold Your Mother. Three short stories, with a serious of short, Scripture-based meditations centered around the various titles of the Blessed Mother.

From now until Christmas, I'll throw in a free sample of my favorite "Christmas tea," so the recipient can sip in style! And if you order four copies or more (to the same address, domestic orders only), I'll throw in a free copy of my "Abundant Life" program video (with Johnnette Benkovic).

The book is now available in English or Spanish -- and if you'd like a copy with the original (blue with the praying hands, pictured) cover for someone who might not appreciate the one with all the images of Mary on it, just let me know. To order, click here.
God bless you!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Celebrating the Presentation of Mary

Image source

Today, I found out when I started Morning Prayer, is the Feast of the Presentation of Mary.

I didn't have any idea what that meant, not really. It's the sort of feast that feels distant to me, the sort of celebration that makes Catholicism feel ancient and, well, a little hard-to-understand to me. (And I've been Catholic for seven - or is it eight? - years now!)

After reading Jean's post on the Feast of the Presentation of Mary, though, I feel a lot more comfortable with it. For one thing, I have a three-year-old girl in my life. I don't want to give her away or anything (well, most of the time), but I can imagine Mary's parents taking her to the Temple. She would have been old enough to understand that something significant was happening. They probably could have - maybe even did - discuss what was going on. Would she have asked probing questions? Were there tears?

As I've reflected on this, I am better able to think about it in terms of these people from long ago parting with their daughter. Instead of salvation history being fulfilled, great cogs in the wheel of things being plugged along as they were supposed to, it becomes a story with pain and even a little heartbreak in it.

Do go over and read about the Presentation of Mary. Then close your eyes and picture it. Think about the empty house Joachim and Anne went home to - a house that was too quiet. Consider how Mary must have felt, when she realized that she was staying at the Temple. Sure, she was excited...but maybe there was some fear, and no mother to comfort her.

Use this feast day to turn to your Heavenly Mother with some little pain of your own. Let her stroke your temple and lead you to her Son, who will comfort you in the best way possible.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Your Chance to Share

Dear Friends,

It has come to my attention that in a few short weeks, we'll be in a new year.

That means we have a whole year of Mary Moments to look forward to!

So...we're going to open comments and let you chime in with your ideas for themes for next year's Mary Moments. I have some ideas of my own, but what I'm really interested in is what kind of ideas you have for these Mary-centered carnivals.

What would you like to see?

Leave your comment, or send me a note at peerybingle [a.t.] gmail [d.o.t.] com.

Thanks in advance, and may the Blessed Mother bless you abundantly!
- Sarah

Monday, November 17, 2008

Looking for a Good Book?

Then may I recommend Mary and Me?

Maybe Mary and Me won’t be your cup of tea. Maybe you don’t even really “get” the whole Mary thing...and you’d be in good company. This book is filled with reflections and insights from Catholic women, some of whom weren’t always big fans of Mary. The author herself shares some reflections that had me laughing and grabbing the tissues.

In my world, there’s a huge value to things that make me consider life differently. I don’t always agree with the things that force my different perspective, but I do value them. It’s one of the reasons why I so value my relationships with the friends in my life I can disagree with without the tingling in my scalp that signals anger and frustration.

I found this sort of value in Mary and Me. I also found new insight into the role of the Blessed Mother in my own life.

My full review is over at my blog.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Mary Moments: the Saints and Mary

Mary and the saints...it's like peanut butter and jelly, blue skies and sunshine, little boys and puppies. Among the things that go well together, Mary and the saints top the list for me.

That doesn't make it easy to relate with them, though. Sometimes, it's all too easy to get caught up in how "perfect" they are and to forget that they were - are - just as human as I am.

This month's Mary Moments is a collection of posts that help me to remember that I too am part of the communion of saints. These posts will pat your hand and remind you that Mary's role as Queen of the Saints isn't meant to intimidate us...it's meant to help us. You'll find reflections that will make you smile and recommendations that might change your life in some small but significant way.

A special thanks to our contributors this month, and a sincere invitation to each of you - whether or not you have a blog - to join us in some small way next month, when we'll honor Our Lady of Guadalupe (details at the end).

Water and the Spirit
Ginny writes, "I used to view the saints as so horribly boring and unreal in their goodness. That was before I realized that there were real-life struggles underneath those haloes. Now, I adore the saints. They’re my advocates. They’re my posse."

Divine Mercy: What Does It Look Like?
Heidi ties in the words of the Blessed Mother as transcribed in St. Faustina's diary. "In the famous Diary of Saint Maria Faustina Kowalska, the words that the saint hears Jesus speak are recorded in boldface type; those of His mother are in italics. As might be expected, the words of the Blessed Mother are few and far between – all true Marian devotion draws the heart toward Jesus."

Co-op Art: Saints!
Ana has some extraordinary artwork to share - saints drawn by junior and senior high art students. Thanks, Ana, for this visual reminder of our friends in heaven!

I learned a lesson from a friend's reflections on IM lingo. "I have no doubt that the parents (and friends!) over my shoulder are there, watching and listening, praying for me and supporting me."

Let It Be
Kate is inspired by an old Beatles song. "I know Paul McCartney is referring to his mom and not the Virgin Mary in the song "Let It Be." Still, whenever I hear the song I find myself picturing Mother Mary coming to me and speaking words of wisdom I need to hear."

Mary, Queen of Saints: Imitating Her in Humility
Jean reminds us, "The title “Mary, Queen of Saints” describes just how holy and powerful our dear Mother is. Mary, Holy Virgin, pure and perfect, gave birth to Jesus Christ and so we revere her above all saints. Because Mary was full of grace, she excelled in every virtue to a greater extent than every other saint. Each of the saints excelled in a particular virtue, but Mary possessed all of the virtues that could be expressed in any creature."

Mary and the Saints via a Great Book
Valerie shares a high recommendation for a book: "I recently read a book entitled "Mother Theresa In The Shadow of Our Lady." It is about her mystical experiences with Our Lady and is written by Fr. Joseph Langford MC, the priest who worked with her for 30 years."

Next Month: Honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe
In December, we will honor Our Lady of Guadalupe with our Mary Moments carnival. We welcome your feast day celebration ideas, traditions, recipes, or reflections. Do you have a special devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe? Have you felt a special bond with this image of Mary? Can you take a few moments to share it with us as we assemble a bouquet for Our Mother on this special feast day?

Submissions are due by December 12, using the online form or by emailing me at peerybingle [at] gmail [dot] com. If you don't have a blog, you can still participate! I'll post your entry as a guest post over at my blog. Mary Moments: Honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe will be live on December 15.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Call for Submissions for Mary Moments

In November, the theme of Mary Moments is Mary, Queen of Saints.

* How does devotion to Mary make you more saintly?
* How has her intercession changed your life?
* Do you have a special affiliation with Mary, Queen of Saints?
* What sort of reflection does this title inspire in you?

Entries are not limited to these questions, of course.

Submissions are due by November 13, using the online form or by emailing me at peerybingle [at] gmail [dot] com. If you don't have a blog, you can still participate! I'll post your entry as a guest post over at my blog.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Not as easy as it looks

The Rosary is excruciating. There I said it. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said it was the most perfect prayer because it takes 19 minutes, which is the maximum time the average person can maintain a state of concentration. The truth is the Rosary can be a real chore. St. Thérèse, the Little Flower, was being more honest when she said, “I am ashamed to confess it, but the recitation of the Rosary costs me more than to use an instrument of penance. I feel I am saying it so badly. Try as I may to make myself meditate on the mysteries, I never manage to fix my thoughts on them." Amen sister. I’m with you. And yet, like St. Thérèse, I wouldn’t give up the Rosary for anything.
This is one of the most powerful stories I've read...it's about how the rosary helped a man kick a porn addiction.
OK so I pray the Rosary and I kicked a nasty porn habit. Ho hum. Big deal you think. Yes it is, because I should explain that when I say the addiction went away, I don’t mean gradually. I mean it vanished that first night. It was like someone reached inside my brain, found the switch for porn addiction, and turned it off. I can’t explain it. I’m not a sex therapist, but I know that’s not supposed to happen. You don’t just put down a 19-year porn addiction like yesterday’s newspaper and walk away from it.
Maybe it doesn't sound like the kind of thing you'll be interested in, but, I think you should read it. It resonated deeply with me, and I'm ever so glad Jen pointed me toward it!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Are you listening?

Sarah's "Blankie Prayer" post reminds me of a situation I encountered recently. A dear friend called, distraught. She was going through a tough time with her son, and needed to vent. He had made some choices that were both sudden and life-changing, and had thrown her for a loop. My friend was trying to be supportive and encouraging, even though she still had misgivings, and so decided to call her own mom for a "pep talk," thinking her mother would understand.

She was terribly disappointed. Instead of a patient, listening ear my friend got a lecture about what she should be doing, and what a terrible tragedy it all was. Instead of encouraging her, my friend's mother succeeded in adding to her burden. Instead of focusing on her daughter, my friend's mother made it all about ... herself. She had once been in a similar situation that had turned out very badly, and all she could do was bemoan her own past mistakes.

This was not what my friend needed, and she ended the conversation abruptly and called me to vent. I reminded her that even the best mothers can make mistakes -- they are only human, after all. On the other hand, when we do not get what we want most from them, it may be that they simply have a different understanding of what it is that we need.

When we are excited, our mothers want to protect us from the pitfalls. When we want comfort, they sometimes give us a little kick in the seat of the pants instead. They know that what we want is not always what we need. Our moms have experienced aspects of life that we have not, and so their perspective is necessarily different from our own. When this happens, "honoring" them means trusting that they have our best interests at heart.

If this is true for our earthly parents, it is also true of our heavenly family. We ask the Blessed Mother and the saints to pray for us (especially at this time of year, as we approach the feasts of "All Souls" and "All Saints"). And yet, it's important to remember these prayers are not like quarters in a gumball machine -- put in a coin, get out a treat.

Of course miracles do happen. God can and does answer prayer -- including the prayers of His saints -- though not always in the way we want Him to. We cannot manipulate heaven with our rosaries and lit candles, forcing the hosts of heaven to smooth out the bumps in the road ahead of us. All we can do is ask for their company to fortify us as we march along.

As we prepare for the upcoming election, it's important to keep in mind that -- as much as we might want Him to -- God does not stuff ballot boxes. He gave us free choice and expects us to use reason and a rightly formed conscience to make those choices.

Throughout history, we have reaped the results of those choices. All over the world, Christians are being persecuted under godless oppressors. It has always been so. Thousands of Christians suffered under Caligula, Nero, Dioclecian -- until the catacombs were piled high with the bodies of the martyrs. While it is possible that God will show mercy on us on Tuesday, and give us a president and vice-president who will stand for life, do we really think that our nation will escape judgment from more than 40 years of choosing death?

If indeed we end up choosing "obamanation," our land will receive far greater judgment for the murder of countless innocents. Their blood will cry out from the ground as surely as did the blood of the martyrs of the early Church. And yet ... we also do well to remember that the Roman Empire, which took the lives of Christians for the first four centuries, fell early in the fifth.

May God have mercy on us all.

Mother Mary, send your light,
Pray that we will do what's right
When shadows gather and darkness falls
Lead us to the Lord of All ... Jesus.

A Word about the Rosary

"...Today, when dangers far greater than those of the ancient Turks threaten not only Christianity but all civilization, we are urged by our Blessed Mother to turn again to the Rosary for help. If men in sufficient numbers do this, and at the same time carry out the other conditions that she has laid down, we have the greater reason for confidence that we will be delivered from our dangers."
—Fr. William G. Most

HT: Catholic Culture.org

Blankie Prayer

I learned the Hail Mary sitting on a mattress on the floor, in the upstairs room of the last apartment I lived in before I got married. I was newly Catholic and I had a special intention. I was convinced the Blessed Mother was the right one to approach.

As I stumbled through the rosary that first time, without the benefit of the audio aids that would later help me to “get” it, I didn’t get a shock of understanding. The lights didn’t flicker. Nothing exploded in a shower of sparks.

But I kept plugging along, struggling. It became my companion on commutes, and I discovered a CD that helped me learn the words. I would keep a rosary in my purse and I learned how to check it off on my fingers when I didn’t have or couldn’t use a rosary.

Time passed and that intention was updated with something else. Then I put the rosary away for a while, only to pick it up again.

Now that I’ve had the rosary as my companion for years, I notice that when I’m troubled, when I can’t find the words, or when I am fearful, I latch onto the Hail Mary. Does saying it just occupy the part of my mind that needs activity? Possibly. But I think there’s more to it.

A few months ago, I woke in the middle of the night. I was on a trip without my husband, and the baby and toddler were both snoring beauties. Nothing was amiss, except an urge - so strong it was almost someone TELLING me - to pray for my safety.

I don’t know how long I laid there, terrified. All I could pray was a litany of Hail Marys - it was the only thing that came out. I had never had an experience where a memorized prayer was a way of praying when fear completely clouds the mind...except in my dreams.

I don’t often have nightmares, but when I’m pregnant there are no holds barred with nighttime adventures. During one of my pregnancies, I remember feeling petrified and waking myself up by praying Hail Marys.

You might say it’s become my blankie prayer.

Just as my daughters cling to their worn-soft faded blankies, so I cling to my Blessed Mother’s skirt through this prayer. When my heart aches, I cry out a Hail Mary. When I need held in my sorrow, it’s a Hail Mary that comes out. Worried or troubled, the words I can’t find on my own shape up as a Hail Mary.

I wrap my babies in soft blankets, bundling them against hurt, and God has wrapped me in the blankie prayer that I’ve become as comfortable with as the old quilt from my childhood, the one on my bed. I hold my children after they fall and put bandages on their scrapes, just as God wraps his arms around me through the love of his mother, which I’m always reminded of when I say a Hail Mary.

Hail Mary, full of grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners,
Now and at the hour of our death.

Image credit: "rosary lit" by strobist

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mary Moments: the Rosary Edition

It is October, the month of the Rosary, and so as we gather together to honor the Blessed Mother with our Mary Moments carnival, we're going to examine the rosary.

Earlier this year, I was blessed to host the Loveliness of Rosaries, and I shared there how learning the rosary was an adventure in unfamiliarity. These days, the rosary is more like a pair of comfy slippers that I put on when my feet are cold. It's a place I go to snuggle up and get down to the business of praying, though I often also turn there when I don't know what else to do, where else to turn. The rosary is a kind of blankie for me, a comfort that I return to.

You don't have to be Catholic to pray the rosary, and you don't have to know what you're doing. Think of it as a walk in the woods with your mother, her hand over yours, guiding you away from the stickers and muddy patches.

As we travel through the mysteries of the rosary together, we'll pray for the Culture of Life, thanks to a pamphlet our parish ordered and distributed for the 40 Days for Life. It's published by Catholics United for Life, and if you would like to order copies of the complete pamphlet, you can call them at 270-325-3061 and ask for stock #0337.

The Joyful Mysteries
The first five decades, the “joyful mysteries”, are marked by the joy radiating from the event of the Incarnation. This is clear from the very first mystery, the Annunciation, where Gabriel's greeting to the Virgin of Nazareth is linked to an invitation to messianic joy: “Rejoice, Mary”. The whole of salvation history, in some sense the entire history of the world, has led up to this greeting. If it is the Father's plan to unite all things in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10), then the whole of the universe is in some way touched by the divine favour with which the Father looks upon Mary and makes her the Mother of his Son. The whole of humanity, in turn, is embraced by the fiat with which she readily agrees to the will of God. (John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae)

The Annunciation
Father, Mary's "yes" brought Your Son into the darkness of our world. Enable us to put aside our own plans in order to welcome You wholeheartedly. May our "yes" transform the culture of death into a culture of life.

* From Lilymouse: "I am looking to buy a new rosary, since the beads of mine are really too small, but honestly I'm not sure why I'm bothering. My favourite way to pray is on my fingers. It seems to me at once simpler and richer. It makes me feel like I am a farmer's wife, sowing prayers, or a cottager in the back meadow where it meets the woods, stitching prayers into old useful calico, or a baker kneading blessings into bread patiently, thoroughly, without poetry but even so a deep purpose." Oh, and did you know...you don't have to be Catholic to pray the rosary. :) Go, read the rest of her lovely reflection.

The Visitation
Father, all things are possible for You. Like Mary, help us to go in haste to help others and to persevere courageously in seemingly impossible situations.

* Purpleflowerpatch shares, "After my Catholic conversion I was surprised to find that whenever I prayed the Rosary the depth of love I felt for Jesus grew wider, deeper, stronger. It was quite a revelation! As a Protestant I had looked with scorn on the Rosary - yet, I had not even known what truly lay at it's heart. Jesus." She continues with a testimony of how the rosary has continued to change her life - her regular, everyday, living-in-the-now life. Go see for yourself.

The Nativity
Father, in Bethlehem's inn there was no room for Your Son. May parents tempted by abortion find the courage to make room in their lives for their babies. Give us opportunities to help them.

* Elizabeth shares her blog, Elizabeth's Rosaries, where she makes and sells rosaries to raise money for World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid. Way to go, Elizabeth! Now, go on over and check out her work (and don't resist the temptation to do some Christmas shopping!).

The Presentation
Father, unite our families in love. May we grow more like the Holy Family. Let us trust in Your constant loving care, rejecting contraception, abortion in all forms, suicide and euthanasia.

* Says Carmen, regarding the impact the rosary has had on her life, "The Rosary has made it possible for my daughter and I to connect to the Lord and to each other through the intercession of our Lady. It has helped me gain an appreciation of the Love of God as it relates to parenthood and sacrificial love." She also shares other thoughts on the rosary, full of tips and wisdom.

The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple
Father, like Mary and Joseph, let us never stop searching for You. May we and our children seek and recognize Jesus, the model of self-giving love, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

* Esther made a promise to the Blessed Mother to pray the rosary, but had some challenges: "I had trouble meditating on the Mysteries. I just could not meditate. My mind would wander and I would start out with the best of intentions and end up 15 minutes later thinking about something trivial. I tried everything I could think of in order to grow to love praying the Rosary. I continuously asked friends and family for the secret to meditating on the mysteries. I listened tapes on the Rosary, I read books, read Rosary meditation pamphlets, prayed it in Church, prayed it in a group....but to no avail.. I merely paid our lady lip-service. But since I said the Rosary, I felt I had met my obligation. It just didn't feel very fulfilled spiritually speaking....but I persevered." So what ended up happening? Well, I'm not going to give it away! You'll be glad you went to see for yourself!

The Luminous Mysteries
Moving on from the infancy and the hidden life in Nazareth to the public life of Jesus, our contemplation brings us to those mysteries which may be called in a special way “mysteries of light”. Certainly the whole mystery of Christ is a mystery of light. He is the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12). Yet this truth emerges in a special way during the years of his public life, when he proclaims the Gospel of the Kingdom. (John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae)

The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan
Lord, help us to accept Your grace, given at our baptism, empowering us to build a culture of life. Guide us as we discern by prayer and fasting our mission to bear witness to the light.

* Sister Spitfire takes on the "Mary Worship" argument, and reminds us "The Rosary is about resting in the Gospel. Praying the rosary is about meditating on Sacred Scripture and asking Jesus to speak to us. It’s about claiming the promises. It’s about imitating the lives of Our Lord and Our Lady. Over the years a big picture of sorts has developed for me, and I am only comfortable in saying that this is my personal understanding of the rosary. I do not wish to impose my understanding on anyone else who prays the rosary since they may have a different and equally valid understanding. This is how Our Lord speaks to me through this prayer at this place in my spiritual journey. I am also equally comfortable in saying that I have only scratched the surface of what the rosary has to offer in the way of other spiritual treasures." She doesn't stop with that, but shares history, scripture, and, in typical Sister Spitfire fashion, oh so much more. Enjoy!

The Wedding at Cana
Jesus, we pray that married couples embrace with joy the blessings of children and family life. Through the intercession of Mary, the "first among believers," grant them the strength to persevere to the end of their lives in faithful love.

* Cathy has a memory for us: "My next stop was my grandma's nightstand drawer. That's where she kept the most beautiful thing my young brown eyes had ever seen -- a set of rosary beads crafted from white plastic. Each bead was fashioned into a rosebud, and they were linked together by a silver chain. I felt like a princess when I put these around my neck and pranced around the apartment. Grandma let me wear them until it was time to go, when I reluctantly placed them back in her room. I couldn't wait to visit again, when I could gather up this precious "necklace" that made me feel pretty and special." From that humble beginning, the rosary has played a special role through Cathy's life, so be sure to stop in and find out how.

The Preaching of the Kingdom
Lord, may all, especially those who have sinned against life, accept the call to conversion as the Gospel is preached and seek the Lord's forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Your merciful love can transform the hardest of hearts.

Christicrux highlights improvements to praying the rosary, directly from John Paul II's apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae. The one that spoke to me the loudest from her list was this: ".In order to supply a Biblical foundation and greater depth to our meditation, it is helpful to follow the announcement of the mystery with the proclamation of a related Biblical passage, long or short, depending on the circumstances. No other words can ever match the efficacy of the inspired word. As we listen, we are certain that this is the word of God, spoken for today and spoken “for me”." But why trust my judgment when you can check it out for yourself?

The Transfiguration

Lord, may we listen to You, the beloved Son of the Father, and act upon Your words. Give us courage to live unselfish lives, even in the midst of suffering, with our eyes fixed on the hope of eternal life.

* Cathy has transfiguration of the body in mind, and it involves the rosary: "Most Catholics recognize the Rosary as a series of prayers, primarily Hail Marys, said in succession while contemplating the mysteries of the lives of Jesus and His Mother. What they may also admit is that praying the Rosary is an excellent means of bringing onself to a calm, peaceful place. Calm and peaceful = less stress. Spiritual growth and a flatter, healthier tummy? Sounds like a combo we should try." You're not getting the full feel for what she's saying, though, until you read the entire thing.

The Last Supper
With hearts full of faith may we meet You present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, at every Mass, and allow this reality to transform our lives and our choices. Bless Your Church with many fervent and dedicated vocations to the holy priesthood, diaconate, consecrated life, and married life.

* Heidi shares reflections for the Luminous Mysteries, as well as why they have a special importance for her: "these mysteries reveal in a profound way the humanity of Christ, which He received from the Blessed Mother. These mysteries are particularly meaningful to my family, for they coincide with special moments in their own spiritual development." Don't miss her reflections on the mysteries too!

The Sorrowful Mysteries
The Gospels give great prominence to the sorrowful mysteries of Christ. From the beginning Christian piety, especially during the Lenten devotion of the Way of the Cross, has focused on the individual moments of the Passion, realizing that here is found the culmination of the revelation of God's love and the source of our salvation. The Rosary selects certain moments from the Passion, inviting the faithful to contemplate them in their hearts and to relive them. (John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae)

The Agony in the Garden
Lord, in moments of darkness and anxiety, let us always choose Your will, no matter how difficult it seems. Strengthen all who are pressured by family and friends to sin against Your law.

* Margaret has quite a collection of rosaries: "My love of the rosary includes both saying the prayers and clutching the beads. Given a choice, I would have as many sets as I do moods—you know, kind of like coffee mugs. Let’s see, am I in a purple amethyst mood today…or am I feeling more rose-scented? None of the above! I need my sturdy wooden beads in this mood." She has an approach to the rosary that I can't help but relate with...maybe you will too.

The Scourging at the Pillar
Jesus, scourged for the sins of the flesh, help all who struggle for chastity in a world which holds it in contempt: young people who treasure their innocence, spouses who live a generous fruitfulness, single and divorced people who endure loneliness and remain chaste.

* Micki shares a holy card of Our Lady of the Rosary. Be sure to stop by and see it.

The Crowning with Thorns
Lord, let us never scornfully dismiss You and Your truth as Pontius Pilate did. Keep us always mindful that acts such as contraception, abortion, euthanasia, torture and genocide are wrong in every circumstance.

* Wondering how to pray the rosary, or looking for a refresher? Catholic Exchange posted a simple guide, along with the reminder of the rosary's promise: "In all Her appearances at Fatima, Portugal, the Blessed Mother repeatedly emphasized the importance of praying the Rosary daily and performing acts of reparation and sacrifice."

The Carrying of the Cross
Lord, You needed help when You fell beneath the cross. Convert our society which seeks to eliminate life when it is suffering and "inconvenient." May euthanasia and assisted suicide not become the ultimate weapons in a war of the powerful against the weak.

* Pat didn't always have such a good experience with the rosary, but, "Nearly 18 years ago, I met a new friend at church. She had three boys. Her baby was the same age as my only child at the time. As I got to know her, I learned her coffee pot was always on and her prayer of choice was the rosary. Her love for the Blessed Virgin Mary had a profound effect on me." It's a story that resounds with wisdom and possibility...maybe this is just what you needed to read today!

The Crucifixion
Lord, bless all who will die today, especially the innocent unborn, the forgotten aged, prisoners condemned to death, and those caught in violent conflicts. Bring all in mortal sin to repentance and salvation. Help each of us to be ready for the hour of our death.

* Christine shares a homily from the Feast of the Holy Rosary reminding us not to despair. "Mary’s rosary is our picture book of faith, hope, and love. Here in the unfolding images of Christ life: In His joys, through His luminous love, in His sorrows, in His glories; he prepares us for everything that will take place. The will of God is being realized in each event of Christ’s life, in Mary’s life, and in our life. And Mary will help us say “Yes,” and give our free and full assent to His divine plan." Go, read the rest!

The Glorious Mysteries
The Rosary has always expressed this knowledge born of faith and invited the believer to pass beyond the darkness of the Passion in order to gaze upon Christ's glory in the Resurrection and Ascension. Contemplating the Risen One, Christians rediscover the reasons for their own faith (cf. 1Cor 15:14) and relive the joy not only of those to whom Christ appeared – the Apostles, Mary Magdalene and the disciples on the road to Emmaus – but also the joy of Mary, who must have had an equally intense experience of the new life of her glorified Son. (John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae)

The Resurrection
Holy Spirit, give us a contemplative attitude, full of wonder, as we gaze on each person created for You for eternal life. May the laws of our country respect the right to life of every human being from conception until natural death.

* Kid sister of Imelda had a "third hour" of prayer recently, and she posted what she could remember of her insights into the Luminous Mysteries. "Bread. Wine. Simple food. Brought by sinful men, held in imperfect hands, shared even by a traitorous friend. What did our Lord do? He took it, blessed it, broke it, perfected it, shared it… and in doing so, gave Life. The bread and wine, like the prefiguring loaves and fishes, was useful to our Lord… not because of the perfect hearts and right belief of those who brought it, not because it was an adequate offering… the apostles themselves thought it insignificant and unworthy… but because of the perfect heart and holiness of He to whom it was given by faith. Our Lord repeatedly took imperfect gifts and sanctified them, made them holy, multiplying them, and using them to bless… to give Life. Who then are we to refuse the gift of another made in our Lords name and to our Lords sheep, no matter how blemished, imperfect, unclean the heart of the giver in our eyes? Is it not a lack of faith on our part? Just as the apostles lacked faith that God could do anything worthwhile with a few simple loaves and fish?" There's plenty more where that came from!

The Ascension
Holy Spirit, You send us to proclaim the Good News to the world. Inspire us to witness to Your message of hope by humble faithfulness to the Gospel of Life in our day-to-day lives.

Sarah's rosary is a comfort to her, "When I am troubled, when I am in need, when I find myself unsure, it is in the rosary that I find comfort. It is where I turn when I need to turn to God but find only a large glob of anxiety covering me. It is the place I go, the lap where I lay my head, the way I find my Father and appreciate how much he loves me, how closely he listens, how gently he hugs me." The rest is here.

The Descent of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit, fill us who are poor, weak, and vulnerable with the fire of Your love as you did the Apostles at Pentecost. Let us boldly go forth to proclaim the Gospel of Life to the world.

* Recently, Joseph Pronenchen, of the National Catholic Register, wrote about the scriptural rosary and its role in unlocking the mysteries. "“Do you ever get distracted while praying the Rosary? Struggle to stay focused? Find yourself zipping through the decades over the speed limit?” he writes. “If so, you know what it’s like to feel disappointed in prayer. Or to feel like you must be doing something wrong. From there, it can be a short skip to not even trying the next time.” It's an article worth reading in full.

The Assumption
Holy Spirit, Spouse of Mary, You welcomed our Blessed Mother into heaven. We ask her motherly intercession for those who nurture new life at its delicate beginnings and those who are near the end of their earthly life.

* Though it was compiled back in May, the Loveliness of Rosaries is a collection of rosary-related posts worth spending some time perusing. You know, because you have all this free time... NO! Because you owe a cup of tea to yourself! Maybe the post that didn't strike a chord with you here is over there, nestled in among the reflections. It's worth a visit, don't you think?

The Coronation
Holy Spirit, source of Mary's humility, You crowned her as Queen of Heaven. You welcome the humble, pure, and merciful into the eternal kingdom where the last shall be first and the first last. Never let any of us be separated from You by pride, disobedience, or selfishness.

* Michelle prays when she runs. But at the insistence of a priest, she's been trying out praying it as a family, despite some of her early objections: "I DON'T WANNA! Mentally, I threw myself down like my three year old, kicking my feet and writhing from side to side. Really, no matter how far along the path I may think I have come in shunning selfish behavior, I find myself right back at square one: ME AND WHAT I WANT." It all turns out...well, you'll have to go find out for yourself.

* CatholiCity Free Rosary CD
* Rosary Army
* U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Rosaries for Life
* Rosary Center of the Rosary Confraternity

Next Month: the Saints Edition
In November, we'll consider the saints and Mary.
* How does devotion to Mary make you more saintly?
* How has her intercession changed your life?

Submissions are due by November 10, using the online form or by emailing me at peerybingle [at] gmail [dot] com. If you don't have a blog, you can still participate! I'll post your entry as a guest post over at my blog.

About the image: My friends Jim and Gloria shared these rosaries with me for a bulletin article earlier this month. They are rosaries made by Jim's deceased grandfather, who had quite a passion for rosary-making. From the article, "Grandpa made hundreds, if not thousands, of rosaries, all to be given away. Family and friends, neighbors, visiting priests, bishops, and fellow parishioners received these as wonderful gifts. At the pinnacle of his rosary making, Grandpa began sending them to missions. In addition to natural materials like pecans and other nuts, Grandpa looked for other materials to use in making his precious gifts. Old jewelry, clear and colored glass beads, tiny squares of hand-whittled wood with even tinier holes hand-drilled into the centers, and other matching items, were transformed into treasured gifts."