'Rosary for the USA'

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PHOENIX - As Manny Yrique prayed before the Blessed Sacrament, his heart was burdened with concerns about the United States and the level of animosity in American discourse.

"I knelt down to pray and I was overwhelmed by the feeling that Our Lord wanted me to pray a rosary," Yrique said. "I felt him telling me, 'Take it to my mother.'"

He pulled out his rosary beads and as he began to pray, he was struck by the realization that each of the 50 Hail Mary prayers of the rosary could be offered for one of the 50 United States.

Yrique said he's always had a strong devotion to Mary. He remembers being 8 years old, kneeling with his 6-year-old sister to pray the rosary while their mother was undergoing surgery.

"We didn't know if our mom was coming back home, so we took out our plastic rosaries, knelt down at the Virgin of Guadalupe statue that was over my mom's bed and we prayed a rosary," Yrique told The Catholic Sun, newspaper of the Phoenix Diocese. "It was like, 'Nothing's going to happen as long as Mary's with you.'"

Yrique said he designed the Rosary for the United States of America through prayer, often waking in the middle of the night to compose the intentions.

He has already given away or sold 3,000 of the red, white and blue rosary beads and has ordered another 2,000. He has a website, www.magnalitecatholic.com/usa_rosary.html. Along with the rosary, people can order a prayer booklet or prayer card that lists all the intentions as well as the names of the 50 states.

Each of the five decades has a designated intention.

The first three decades are prayed for the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. The fourth decade is dedicated to state and local governments as well as police and firefighters. The fifth decade is devoted to U.S. military personnel.

Yrique's conviction about the love of the mother of God is something that he said can partly be explained by his own mother's unshakeable devotion to her children.

"I believe that a mother has tremendous impact on her family - I saw that in my mother," Yrique said. "We knew that nothing would happen to us as children as long as Mom was there.

"I believe the Blessed Virgin Mary is the same way - she's always been my mother and I believe she has the ear of God at her command."

The "Rosary for the USA" is not a political statement, Yrique said. He's not praying for a particular candidate to win the upcoming election or for any political party's success. He's simply praying for the United States - its leaders and populace.

"At the time I started praying for my country, I was really concerned with how divisive we became over the S.B. 1070 (immigration) issue," Yrique said. "So when I saw things happening on the news - when I saw people being angry at one another, shouting at one another, I thought, 'This is not the way I was brought up.'"

Yrique said it's important for the 30 million Catholics in the United States to pray for their leaders, regardless of political persuasion.

"I really believe that it doesn't matter who we elect if the power of God is not working through our elected officials," he said. "I'd like people to get off their soapboxes and get on their knees and pray. God will bless America when Americans remember to bless God."

Coronel writes for The Catholic Sun in Phoenix.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 1970