"A little elderly Italian lady was kneeling in church, praying the rosary. A painter was up on a scaffold, high in the church, and decided to have a little fun with this pious old woman.
"This is your Lord speaking," he said in a deep, resonant voice.
No reaction from the little elderly Italian lady, who kept on with her prayers.
The painter thought that maybe she was a little deaf, so he raised his voice: "This Is Your LORD Speaking!"
Still there was no response from the little elderly Italian lady.
So the painter shouted: "THIS IS YOUR LORD SPEAKING!'
And the little elderly lady looked up at the crucifix and said, "You shutta up! I'm a-talkin' to your Mama!""
This joke hits on an important aspect of Catholic spirituality! Most Catholics at some point in their life have been given a rosary. Perhaps it was given at their First Communion, their Confirmation, or even handed out by street evangelists (Yes, not all street evangelists preach that the Apocalypse is near!). We may think of an old lady at a Latin Mass, thumbing her rosary as the priest recites the words of the Consecration. Despite these stereotypes, the rosary can be quite useful in our daily lives.
My personal story can help illustrate this. Back in my senior year of high school, I was pretty busy. I was in marching band, the school play, and captain of the Cross Country team. I was also getting ready to apply to college and for scholarships. One day in the fall of that year, I was in study hall and came upon an article about praying the rosary and to the saints while on the computer. I found those stories to be very inspiring. I thought to myself, "well that sounds pretty good, I would like to have a remission of my sins and be free from old habits." So I started praying the rosary each day and the results were pretty extraordinary. I found that I was a bit happier each day, sin's grip loosened up a little bit, and I gained a new understanding of the Bible. I realized from that moment on that there was no going back, prayer would become an indispensable part of my life. A day would never go by without me taking some time to be with God.
The praying the rosary is like going on a journey, not only deep into the faith, but deep into ourselves. People who pray often remark that they learn about their own quirks and about human nature. For me some of those insights relate to anxiety. We often think of anxiety as having a stomach ache before a big presentation. But in reality, I learned from my prayer that anxiety is not so much the presence of something, but the absence of something. Anxiety is simply the absence of trust and love of God, and those physical manifestations can be merely the physical symptoms of a deeper spiritual issue.
Does it all sound scary or too much? It may, but oftentimes in life, the things that we are most afraid to do are the ones that we end up finding the most joy in. So why not give it a try? Take some time to be with Jesus' "Mama" as the elderly Italian woman did in the joke. A man from the ceiling probably will not yell at you, but God can speak to you in the silence and stillness of our hearts to help us understand Him and ourselves.
Matt Green, Parish Support Specialist