Monday, December 27, 2010

The Glorious Mysteries and the Holy Family

A belated Merry Christmas!

I took a break from writing for the past few weeks to focus on my family and our trip to California to visit my parents and sisters.  Many thanks to those who have prayed for my dad.  He is now off all antibiotics and does not require open heart surgery at this point.  We're still praying that the next few check-ups and tests show that the infection is completely gone.

Yesterday, I did a late-night Rosary Workout on the treadmill in our hotel as I knew I would be sitting on airplanes all day today.  As I prayed the Glorious Mysteries, I thought about Jesus, Mary and Joseph since it was the Feast of the Holy Family.

As I prayed the first decade, I contemplated Jesus descending to the dead and seeing his foster father, St. Joseph.  Jesus loved him dearly, and I imagined the joy that St. Joseph must have experienced at seeing his beloved foster son and knowing that he would soon enter heaven.   I also pondered Jesus appearing to His beloved Mother after He rose from the dead.  Even though Scripture does not record such a meeting, I'm pretty certain that Jesus put her at or near the top of His list of people to visit after rising from the dead.

During the second decade, I thought of Jesus' and Mary's bittersweet parting before He ascended to heaven.  I imagined the emotions that Mary must have felt knowing that she would be briefly separated from her beloved Son but also knowing that it was time for Him to take His rightful place at the right hand of the Father.  Although I have no concept of what heaven is like, I think it likely that Jesus must have greeted St. Joseph with special attention when He arrived, although Joseph, in his great humility, would never have expected it.  The bond of the Holy Family must have been so very powerful.  It gives us a model for the holiness in our own families.

As I meditated on the third decade, I thought of Mary in the Upper Room, again filled with grace by the Holy Spirit.  At the Annunciation, she was "full of grace," even before the Holy Spirit overshadowed her, multiplying the grace exponentially.  At Pentecost, she received even more grace.  She will bestow it upon us, if only we ask.  I thought of St. Joseph and how his role was to be Mary's protector, while the Holy Spirit is her true spouse.  (For an excellent article covering this somewhat confusing topic, see Catholic Culture's The Holy Spirit and Mary.)

As I ran up an incline with a burst of late-night energy, I prayed the fourth and fifth decades.  During my meditation, it occurred to me that the Holy Family was finally reunited after Mary's Assumption and Coronation.  What a joyful day that must have been!  We are blessed to be able to ask for their heavenly intercession and protection for our own families.

I try to pray the Rosary every day (although I occasionally fall short of this goal), and at times it can almost seem monotonous, which is my own fault.  Yet when I try a fresh perspective like meditating on the Glorious Mysteries through the eyes of the Holy Family, I see the mysteries in a new light.  I am continually amazed by the depth of the Rosary every time I put a little more effort into praying it.  The next time you pray the Rosary, try a new perspective in your meditation and see if that doesn't bring new revelations.  If so, please share them!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Slice of Rural Southern RV Life on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

Today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception, when Catholics celebrate the day Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, free from Original Sin.  Mary is the only person in human history to be granted this gift. 

Many Catholics mistakenly believe that the Immaculate Conception refers to the day Mary conceived Jesus in her womb.  Simple math proves that this could not be correct.  The Immaculate Conception is celebrated on December 8th and Christmas on December 25th.  Mary would have had either the longest, or the shortest, pregnancy in history!  Of course, Jesus’ conception in Mary’s womb is honored on the feast of The Annunciation.  It is celebrated, appropriately, on March 25th.

Today I had an occasion to call on Mary in her role as the Immaculate Conception.  While we wait for a new house to be built, we are living in our RV, which presents many challenges in the winter.  Although our RV is roomy, cozy and built for four seasons, we can’t keep water outside from freezing.  Since our campground is “down in the holler,” temperatures are often colder than the surrounding areas. Unfortunately, it has been so cold that the water froze inside our hose as well as in the spigot to which it is attached.  We quickly depleted the water in our tank, and I had to find a way to thaw the hose to get more water despite the fact that the temperature was still below freezing.

As is the case in situations where I need help, I mentally searched for a saint who could assist me in getting running water.  I quickly thought of St. Bernadette and the miraculous water in Lourdes.  Then it occurred to me that Mary told St. Bernadette, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”  After praying to both Mary and St. Bernadette, I was confident that I would have running water.  I bundled up and went outside to check the hose.  It was still frozen solid, but I spied another hose we use occasionally, lying under the RV.  It had only a little ice in it, which boiling water quickly removed.  I connected it to the RV and filled the tank, grateful for the heavenly assistance.

I had just enough time to wash the dishes before heading out to watch my son’s swim meet and then take him to Boy Scouts.  During the Scout meeting, I headed to the gym, not to work out as usual, but to take a long hot shower.  By the time I returned home, the water would be frozen again, and I needed to save the precious water in the tank for morning.

As I stood under the hot water, I heard the voices of a bevy of young swim team girls as they converged into the shower room. 

Girl #1:  Jasmine, do you have a pool in your back yard?

Jasmine:  No, but we’ve got a creek.

Girl #1:  A creep?

Jasmine:  No!  A creek. C-R-E-E-K.  My daddy says he’s going to make us a pool in the creek next summer.

Girl #2:  Every time my daddy says he’s goin’ to do somethin’ awesome, he never does.

Girl #1:  Hi Brittany!  How come you’re always the last one in the shower?

Brittany:  I don’t know.

Girl #2:  Well, who do you talk to since everyone's done?

Brittany:  I don’t  know.  Myself, I guess.  I just like to sing too.

(I was never treated to Brittany’s singing since Girl #1 thoughtfully lingered to talk to her for a few minutes so she wouldn't be left alone.)

Girl #1:  Brittany, are you going to church tonight?  (Southern Baptists go to church on Wednesday nights.)

Brittany:  I don’t know.

Girl #1:  Well if I don’t see you at church, then I’ll see you tomorrow!  Bye!

Brittany:  See ya!  Bye!

I like to think that the Blessed Mother enjoyed eavesdropping on this delightful, innocent girl talk as much as I did.