In my previous posting, My Most Important Blog Posting to Date , I have stressed the importance of small, repetitious prayer, as continuous as it possibly can be.
With children, we can teach them “Oh Mary, Conceived without Sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” Or the memorare and encourage them to recite it as often as they can throughout the day...
We can given the children practical helps, (which also become our reminders too!) maybe an image of the miraculous medal pinned around the home, in their bedrooms? I have put the image of McCain standing in front of the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe on my Miraculous Medal Prayer Petition Mobile which hangs in our living room. If you are in the car often, an image can be stuck on the dashboard of the car, or hung from the visor.
The family can also have structured time for praying these small prayers as well. In the car yesterday morning on the way to Mass we, as a family, recited nine “Oh Mary, conceived without sin...” and nine memorares, like a little ‘flying’ novena. This can be done at the main prayer times of the day.
When you are reciting it continually you can be tempted to think that you are being TOO repetitious...I know that thought has struck me already...when I think about the point, I wonder if I am being tempted this way to put the prayers aside or to diminish them greatly...But I remember that 1 Thessalonians 5:17 exhorts me to 'pray without ceasing'.
And THEN I also remind myself of a wonderful story my mother told me many, many years ago, an example of 1 Thessalonians 5:17, in a very vocal manner. It is the story of a retired protestant missionary who had in his working years, ministered to Papua New Guineans, and whom my mother once cared for in a nursing home.
This elderly man had suffered a stroke which required him to be cared for in a nursing home but his wife was still well enough to live in their family home. She came faithfully every day to be with her husband to spend time with him. They were a loving and devoted couple. This man, lets call him Jim – Jim was often seen with his well worn bible in his hands and was a joy to all those who cared for him.
One day Jim’s wife suffered an acute health crisis, one that she was not expected to survive, she was in intensive care in a hospital and Jim had no way of being by her side. But something beautiful happened. Jim began to recite the holy name of “Jesus” it was continuous, without break, said slowly and revently. Day or night (if awake) a nurse could walk into his room and he would be reciting the name of Jesus. This went on for many days.
My mother would check in each day for her shift and would have to read the notes on each patient, it would be noted that Jim was still chanting the name of Jesus. I asked my mum, “Did they mean that in a disresptful way?” “No”, my mother replied, all the nurses, no matter what their beliefs had a deep respect for Jim and maybe they too, like myself today can use this story for greater good in their own lives or others.
Finally the news arrived that Jim’s wife had made a full recovery from intensive care, it had not been expected, but she did. In time his wife returned to her faithful, daily visits and she outlived Jim, as he passed away three years later.
When I question the constancy of simple, repetitive prayer that goes on day and night, I remember Jim, and ask God to give me his devotion, perseverance and strength of character.