|(Image source: Wikimedia Commons)|
Today we celebrate the memorial of our Lady of the Rosary, instituted by Pope Pius V. He attributed the naval victory over the Turks at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571 to the Blessed Mother's intercession after the Christian world sought her aid through the Rosary. The Nashville Dominicans provide an interesting summary of this miraculous event and of Pius V. I encourage you to read their article here.
As a Lay Dominican, I have come to treasure the rosary, contemplating the richness of its mysteries every day.
But I also have a fondness for this particular memorial beyond my love of the rosary. You will understand why after reading about my friend Mike. The article that follows is one of twenty stories from my book, Fleeting Glimpses of the Silly, Sentimental and Sublime:
From the inception of the Adoration Chapel in our parish and without interruption for nearly five years until a few days before his death, this gentleman came every Saturday morning. Initially, he came for two hours each week – from 3 A.M. to 5 A.M. Eventually, another person lent a helping hand by coming in a half-hour early each Saturday morning. That hour and a half was not enough for Mike – he added another hour each week when he joined his wife in the Chapel each Monday evening.
He learned to pray the Rosary there. Oh, how he enjoyed praying the Rosary before the Blessed Sacrament!
Nothing kept him away – not snow, not ice, not radiation treatment, not chemotherapy, not even a terminal illness. Just weeks before his death, he came in at 3 AM in obvious discomfort. He was coughing and had some difficulty breathing. But how devoutly he tried to genuflect and bow his head before his beloved Lord. After awhile, he settled in his chair, pulled out his favorite little meditation booklet and began to pray the Rosary.
He knew that others were willing to cover his hour and half for him. But he did not want to “inconvenience anyone”. Despite the cancer that was raging through his weakened body, “there was no reason for him to give up his hour yet,” he said, “except that he was getting a little lazy.” His fellow Adorers reminded him of all the prayers being offered for him during this difficult time and of their desire to be helpful to him and to his family. He appreciated everyone’s prayers and concerns and simply told us that he did not want to get angry with God. He never did.
“It was okay for you to leave,” he said to the person he was relieving. "No need to stay. I'll be fine." Mike was at peace – one with his heavenly Father and Mother. We should have all thanked him then for teaching us how to live and how to die – with absolute trust and faith in a God Who always knew what was best for him.
My friend spent his last hour before the Blessed Sacrament with his wife five days before he passed away. He died at home surrounded by his loving family and on the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary. How great is our God! This simple and humble man would have been the first one to admit that there was nothing of any value that he ever did on his own. Anything of value that he did (and he did much of eternal value) was only by and through the grace of God. How abundantly willing He is to provide that grace to those who love Him!
God does not promise those who love him a life here free of trials and tribulations. Time before Him in the Blessed Sacrament is no guaranty of a struggle free life. But He does promise sufficient graces to carry our daily crosses and eternity with Him for those who love Him.
Mike loved to visit Him. You will too! Our Lord is waiting for you! Please do not disappoint Him - so many who claim to be His followers have and continue to do so.