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A warrior’s prayer

As she was driving back from a memorial service for a young family friend and four other soldiers killed in the war in Iraq, Lynda MacFarland felt compelled "to do something" to bring comfort to the grieving.

Inspired and humbled by the strength of the family members the soldiers left behind, MacFarland's first thought was to immerse herself in prayer for troops and their families - with a "rosary for warriors."

It was "divine inspiration," said MacFarland, who conceded that she never had a devotion to the rosary nor did she know all the prayers.

After learning the prayers she didn't know, MacFarland decided that the rosary for warriors should be prayed with the sorrowful mysteries in mind, and each decade would be prayed for a specific intention, including prayers for deployed soldiers, those wounded and deceased, and for the families of soldiers. She then passed the idea along to "every Catholic in my address book," said MacFarland, who was living on a military base in Germany at the time.

Her husband, Sean, who has served in the military for more than 25 years, served two tours in Iraq. During his second tour his brigade lost more than 90 soldiers in a 14-month period. It was a "horror," said MacFarland, recounting the months her husband was deployed to Iraq. "It was a nightmare I couldn't wake up from," she said, knowing that young soldiers were dying. "It's so awful and so hard."

MacFarland introduced the idea of praying for the specific intentions at her weekly Military Catholic Council of Women (MCCW) meeting and the members embraced the idea and began praying the rosary together every Friday before noon Mass. The prayers brought the women together and gave them a sense of peace and solace.

"People find it comforting and it's spreading on its own," said MacFarland, who now resides at Fort Belvoir and attends Mass at Queen of Apostles Church in Alexandria.

Alba Thompson, a parishioner of St. Thomas à Becket in Reston and member of MCCW, prays the rosary for warriors every day.

"It's like praying for family," said Thompson, whose husband is a retired military colonel, who fought in Vietnam. "We are all part of this. The only thing we can do is pray."

Calling the rosary for warriors "an amazing strengthening tool," Lisa Miko, president for the MCCW-Worldwide, said the rosary for warriors gives her the words to use to pray for the troops and their families.

MacFarland considers herself and all those who pray the rosary "prayer warriors." On May 18 the MCCW will lead the rosary for warriors before a Memorial Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington during the Military Archdiocese's pilgrimage. What's most important, she said, "Jesus and Our Lady want us to do this."

Pray the rosary for warriors

Using the sorrowful mysteries:

Agony in the garden: for deployed soldiers and their safety

Scourging at the pillar: for wounded soldiers and for their healing

Crowning with thorns: for deceased soldiers and repose of their souls

Carrying of the cross: for families of deployed, wounded and deceased soldiers, and for strength and comfort.

Crucifixion: for our nation, for the victims of war and for peace in the world.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2008