Wednesday, February 17, 2016

And now I pray the rosary

Its disarming to realize that my former self and my current self wouldnt get along very well. In fact, they would probably avoid each other. Pre-conversion, my life was drastically different. My intentions were different, my dreams were different.

Ive started saying the rosary every morning, once the kids are up and dressed and fed, I take a rosary off the hook where we keep the car keys, and open my little Catholic pamphlet about how to pray the rosary, and start. Ill be walking around jiggling Roland to keep him quiet, beads in one hand, and Ill be pulled out of myself and see this woman praying, and think, “Who is that?” I might even think shes a little bit crazy.

This severing of selves is found throughout the Bible. Even Christ himself experienced this shift. At the wedding in Cana he told his mother that his time had not yet come. Was he reluctant to turn the water into wine, exposing himself for who he really was, and beginning that course of events that would change the world? Because suddenly everyone would see him differently. And we know from scripture that often those closest to us have the most difficulty accepting the "new self."

Mary's hardships began with the annunciation, when it was made known to her that she was to be the mother of God. The angel told her to fear not, but Simeon also told her thy own soul a sword shall pierce (Luke 2:35). How simple her life must have appeared up to that point; that Hail Mary brought joy in the service of her Lord and unimaginable sufferings as well.

Pauls moment on the road to Damascus is another obvious example of a life cut into two distinct, completely contradictory halves. Ive never been responsible for the death of a Christian, yet I feel conflicted even in my own home, as I pray the rosary. How could the same person be so changed?

My husband and I are both victims of divorce. We lack cohesiveness in our individual families, the passing on of tradition and culture. This was something we found appealing in the Church: communion, tradition, succession. This is what we want to pass on to our children, and their children, a sense of commitment and the concept of eternity.

There are many reasons to pray the rosary as a family. In one sense, I pray the rosary to strengthen my relationship with God. In another sense, I pray, even though it feels strange and foreign, so that my children will see me praying the rosary, and will think nothing of it. So Hail Mary, full of Grace, will be part of their memories, mom walking around with the baby, holding her rosary, praying and occasionally snapping her fingers at the toddler and shaking her head. Dont do that, were praying now.

With age theres supposed to be growth in confidence and knowledge, a better sense of who we are. With conversion, this trajectory is broken up and were thrown back to the starting line. Im 36, but also an adolescent, experiencing growing pains. Theres no turning back, but the beads arent yet worn smooth by my hands, the mysteries arent memorized, they havent become part of me yet. Theres a space of a few years where I was toeing the line, and now that Ive stepped over it, I catch myself looking into the past, sometimes wistful, sometimes sorrowful, often with pity, hoping to give my children a common thread to hold throughout their lives.

And so I say it again, Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.