April 26, 2011 // Uncategorized

Mysteries in the hardware store

I ran into a friend in the hardware store yesterday. She was in the paint section, looking to match some paint to refresh some of her rooms. I was also in the paint section, hoping to find some clean, pretty colors to replace our wallpaper. I hate wallpaper.

Anyway, Susan is the mother of my daughter’s best friend, and I hadn’t seen her since last summer. We had so much to talk about. Right then and there, between samples of Harvest gold and Limoncello yellow we caught up as best we could, chatting about our daughters — their year so far in college, their stressors, their concerns.

And then we turned to discuss our other children. When I got to my adult son who is living far away from my husband and me (on the opposite side of the country, in fact), Susan said something that jolted me in a good way. As I described to her my pain of my son leaving the nest and working so far from us she interjected, “That’s the Ascension.”

“What?” I asked

“That’s the Ascension. You’re going through what Mary went through at the Ascension.”

She was referring to the event and the second glorious mystery of the rosary.

Hmm. I guessed so. Pain of separation. He was doing his work far from me. I always thought of the Ascension from the ‘significance to the faithful’ point of view — Jesus’ work was done and He was returning to heaven. Susan made me think of the event from His mother’s perspective. Interesting.

As we continued to talk I mentioned another event in my life. She slid in with “Oh! The Visitation.”

Yes, I suppose. I was experiencing something similar to Mary in that moment too. As our conversation continued, Susan continued to point out parallels in my life to certain mysteries of the rosary. It was a combination of comforting and feeling déjà vu. I liked it.

And that’s when I realized what Susan had known all along — that the rosary mysteries could not only be meditations on the great events of Jesus’ life in terms of their significance to mankind in general, but they could be peeks into the mysteries of our personal lives as well. They were opportunities to relate to Him in a more personal way. As Catholics we are to unite our sufferings to Jesus on the cross to see their redemptive power. Our joys can also more fully unite us to God as we ponder their significance in our lives — what God might be trying to say to us in each mystery event, in each moment that we experience something similar, if even in a small way.

The “Agony in the Garden” in the sorrowful mysteries, for example, not only reminds us of the torturous suffering that Jesus went through in anticipation of His brutal death but we can possibly more fully understand, relate to and maybe accept with resignation and offer up the anticipation of some dreaded event in our lives when we pray and ponder this mystery. A student might be dreading a test. A father might be dreading a presentation or separation from the family. A mother might be dreading a medical procedure or even the simple challenges of a particular day. By meditating upon Jesus’ acceptance of the Father’s will — in the Agony in the Garden He prayed, “Not mine but Your Will be done” — we can perhaps gain the courage to face our own cross, our own suffering, and approach it in the best way possible.

In pondering the luminous mystery, Institution of the Eucharist, we might come to a better understanding of and appreciation for the Holy Eucharist and what a gift it is to us. Maybe that thought will get us to daily Mass or at least to approach it with a more appreciative and open heart the next Sunday that we go.

In short, I realized what my friend Susan must have known a long time — that applying the mysteries of the rosary to my daily life is a way to make it a living prayer — something that can be prayed almost constantly, daily. I appreciate this insight from Susan, my “big sister in Christ,” and continue to be amazed how God uses little events and ordinary friends to teach us great things about Himself.

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