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Memories of grandma and the rosary

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My grandmother's birthday is coming up and she does not live in this country, so my family will not be able to see her. We will call her — she has not figured out Skype yet — and we will talk and laugh, talk about her great-grandchildren and her sisters, and wish we could celebrate together. This year, I also want to thank her for everything we have learned from her example — including her faith in Christ through Mary.

Years ago, when she was visiting us in Maryland, I caught a glimpse of her with her eyes closed and her hands going through her rosary beads. 

It took me back to her house in Peru and memories of her singing lullabies to my younger sister, her cooking, her checking her notebooks with tricky words for her daily crossword and her praying the rosary every morning.  

I imagine her reciting all of the intentions people have asked her to pray for and naming every single aunt, uncle and cousin before she starts to pray.

The rosary is a simple yet deep tool to pray. It allows time to reflect on the mysteries, events in the lives of Jesus and Mary. Because the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries are prayed on certain days of the week, a daily rosary only focuses on one set of mysteries and takes about 20 minutes to complete.

In the book "33 Days to Morning Glory," Marian Father Michael Gaitley writes that "praying the rosary does something to the soul. It allows Mary to share and form us according to the image of her son." He points out how the church-approved apparitions of Mary often encourage the praying of the rosary for us to experience peace in our societies, families and nations. 

When I think of people like my grandma who pray the rosary daily and hear their testimonies, I really feel like I should start praying it consistently. 

rosaryWhile searching for gifts for my grandma, I found a book called "The Rosary: The Prayer That Saved My Life." In it, Immaculée Ilibagiza talks about how, to save her from rape and murder during the Rwandan genocide of 1994, Immaculée's father gave her a rosary and told her to run to a local pastor for protection. 

Immaculée and seven other women hid in a 3-by-4-foot bathroom for 91 days. There she "discovered how to pray the rosary, find the Blessed Mother and talk to the Lord." Prayers that had seemed repetitive and never made an impact before became her spiritual compass. 

She says that in the midst of unbearable sufferings, she discovered the beauty and power of the rosary and that meditating on its mysteries delivered her from evil and helped her let go of the anger she had toward the men who killed her family. Talk about the power of prayer.

My grandma praying the rosary was one of those things I just assumed was "nice but not for me" instead of being a great gift. Now that I am older, I am starting to realize otherwise. When I call her later this month, I want to thank her for her example and ask her if I could join her in praying for the family. 

Negro Chin is bilingual associate editor at Maryknoll Magazine.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018