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Friday, October 25, 2013

Much longer post than I intended but look at my beautiful rosary beads!

I converted to Catholicism in 2007.  One of the things I wanted to better understand before I converted was the Catholic devotion to Mary.

As a lifelong Protestant, I just didn't get it.  I'm mean, sure, I understood that she was the mother of God and eventually, as I got older, I truly appreciated that her selfless "yes"  to God ultimately changed the world for all eternity.

But I was not devoted to her.  Protestants misunderstand the Catholic devotion to Mary and to all the saints really, because they think Catholics are praying to the saints and why would you need to pray to anyone other than God.

The distinction that I ultimately learned, is that Catholics are asking the saints to pray to God for them.  And this, I could understand, because Protestants are very good at asking other people to pray on their behalf.

Catholics (like Protestants) only worship God.  We do not worship Mary or the saints.  But we do honor them and we do ask them to pray to God for our intentions.  And why not?

In the Apostles Creed, which is one of the earliest statements of Christian belief, (one that is still held by Catholics, Moravians, Methodists, Episcopals, and others) we state that we believe in the communion of saints.

What is the communion of saints?  It is the spiritual union of all members of the Christian church, both living and dead, those on earth and in heaven.  It seems right that if we can ask those believers on earth to pray for us, then why shouldn't we ask the believers who are already sitting in heaven worshiping God to pray for us.

As I mom, I love my son more than anyone on this earth (although my mom and my husband might disagree).  And I feel like my son loves me more than anyone on this earth (although my mom and my husband might disagree).  Could Mary and Jesus feel any differently?  I doubt it.

Wouldn't Jesus, want to please Mary and do whatever she asked?  (Just like my son wants to please me and do whatever I ask.  Okay, that might be pushing it because he is still a human and maybe he doesn't always want to please me and do whatever I ask, but you get the picture.)

If I ask Mary to pray for one of my intentions, why would I believe that Jesus would not do exactly what she asked (assuming my will and His will were in line).  After all, he turned water into wine at the wedding of Cana at her request even after he protested a little.  He did it anyway because she was his mother.

It's just another act of faith to believe that all the saints in heaven are sitting up there worshiping God, signing his praises, and praying for us. And just like with the living Christians, all we have to do is ask them.

And I guess I've gotten off track because what I really came here to talk about this morning was rosary beads.  (I suppose I got off on my tangent because when you are praying the Rosary, reflecting on the mysteries of faith and asking Mary to pray for your intentions, you typically would use rosary beads. I guess I want all of my Protestant friends to have a better understanding of the Catholic belief in asking saints to pray for us.)

I have been a member of the Catholic church since 2007 and I don't have any rosary beads.  I pray the Rosary and the Divine Mercy chaplet but when I do, I do it online. And if you use the links I provided, you don't need actual rosary beads to keep up with the prayers.  There are virtual beads on the computer screen. (So high tech.)

But look at these beautiful beads I just received as a gift:

Sarah and the rest of her class are presenting their Country Projects this afternoon.  Sarah chose Egypt.  My sister-in-law, Cathy, has a neighbor from Egypt and he was kind enough to send Sarah several souvenirs from Egypt to use in her display.

However, along with the souvenirs, Alam also sent me these beautiful rosary beads because Cathy had just told him I was pregnant (we've met Alam on several trips to visit Cathy and he is one of the nicest people you will ever meet) and that I was worried about the health of the baby.

The rosary beads belonged to Alam's wife, Noelle, who died several years ago from cancer.  Noelle was a very dedicated Catholic and was active both at St. Mary's (her parish in Alexandria, VA) and at the National Shrine in Washington, D.C.

It was through the shrine she met the Papal Nunzio and told him of her work to get a Divine Mercy devotion going at St. Mary's.  He took her paperwork and used it to design a Divine Mercy program across the US and Pope John Paul II declared the Sunday after Easter as  Divine Mercy Sunday, largely prompted by her original efforts.

The rosary was blessed by Pope John Paul II and were given to Noelle during an audience that was arranged for her and her sister by the Nunzio.

Alam is convinced that if I keep the rosary with me, the baby and I will be healthy.  Isn't that just the nicest thing?

And what Alam doesn't know is that prior to my conversion in 2007, I attended a Bible Study at my parish and before each study we prayed the Divine Mercy and read parts of Faustina Kowalska's diary.

Faustina Kowalska, a Polish nun, reported visions and visitations from Jesus and conversations with Him. He asked her to paint the vision of his Merciful Divinity being poured from his sacred heart and specifically asked for a feast of Divine Mercy to be established on the first Sunday after Easter so mankind would take refuge in Him. 

I remember feeling such peace after praying the Divine Mercy and several years later, when I joined the Catholic church, I took Faustine Kowalska's name as my confirmation name.

And now I have rosary beads that were blessed by JPII  and given to someone who played a part in getting the Divine Mercy Sunday officially established!

These beads are a reminder to me of all the people (living and dead!) who are praying for me and my baby.  I will treasure them (the beads AND the prayers) always.


Colleen said...

Goosebumps of the best kind! What a special gift to receive. The Rosary is such a powerful prayer weapon, and I think Alam is perfect right. Thank you so much for sharing this story.

Billie Jo said...

Wonderful...simply wonderful. : )

Grandma T said...

Beautiful!! The rosary beads are also beautiful and just remember, many prayers are going up for you and Baby Cotell from this 'ole Protestant Grandma!! Love you!! :)

Erica Saint said...

A beautiful story and a special gift! Congratulations on your pregnancy. I am praying for you! :)

Wendy said...

Wow! What an amazing story of your rosary beads. That is so wonderful that Alam would send those to you. I agree with Colleen's comment of goosebumps.

Kim said...

Beautiful beads and loved hearing the meaning behind them, what a treasure.