Several years ago I was called to the local hospital where I volunteered in the Pastoral Care Department. I was “on call” and someone was dying. It was 5:00 pm Friday evening. I remember clearly because my son was testing for his next black belt level at 7 pm, and my husband was out of town, so I was his only spectator/mom support. Ah, what to do? I hurriedly tried calling several other pastoral care volunteers to take my place but no one was available. Grudgingly, I left for the twenty minute ride to the hospital, but minutes later was stopped dead in traffic, and my irritation was growing. I mean GROWING. Finally, I realized that the hospital needed someone more than my teen age son needed me. I prayed that the “tide would part” so to speak and I could get to the hospital, and if possible, to the testing.
You probably guessed it. The car-tide parted. Immediately. Minutes later I arrived in the ICU to find my patient, Mr. W, laying there with the largest rosary I have ever seen curled up on his chest. “Chastised” would not be too strong of a word to describe how I felt at that moment. You see, only two of the pastoral care volunteers were Catholic; myself and one other man. I instantly realized that the other non-Catholic volunteers wouldn’t have known what to do with that great big rosary. In fact, they may have assumed that Mr. W had a false faith or was going to hell, as that is a prevailing thought of many toward the Catholic faith. Was I humbled? Yes. Was I a little embarrassed before the Lord for trying to weasel out of my commitment? You bet.
Mask, gown and gloves went on and I walked into the room. I began to pray the normal prayers you would expect for a dying person, and then picked up that great big rosary. The words of the rosary are soothing and repetitious. “….Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” And then another prayer, “O My Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fire of hell, and lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy.” I had no idea the condition of Mr. W’s spiritual heart, but that wasn’t for me to judge. My job was to pray, to love, and to be with him as he left this earth to meet the Lord.
Over and over I spoke the words of the rosary. Four decades later, Mr. W. turned his head toward me briefly, his breathing and heart rhythm became erratic, and he died.
It was beautiful. What a great love our Lord has for us. He didn’t let this man die alone, and I got to be a part of his peaceful passing. I pretty much skipped to my car. At least that’s what I wanted to do. When I finally checked the time I was shocked to realize that it was only 6:25 pm. I felt like time had stood still. I made it to David’s testing with five minutes to spare, and even picked up a movie on the way. God is good.
When Catholics pray the Hail Mary we ask the Holy Mother of our Lord to intercede for us to her Son. We join in prayer with her and petition her to bring our cause to him. We honor Mary as the Mother of our Lord but we don’t worship her. But let’s face it, she is the mother of our Savior. Her “yes” gave us Jesus, and it is with that in mind that we can approach her as our Mother as well, confident that she will always point us to him.
“Hail (or rejoice Mary), full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women…” (Luke 1:28 RSV) These are words the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary. (CCC 2676)
“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” (Luke 1:42 RSV) These are Elizabeth’s words to Mary when she arrived at Elizabeth’s home.
“Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death, Amen.” We ask for Mary’s intercession and also pray with her for our needs and the needs of all. (CCC 2677)
For expert reading, visit www.usccb.org or
http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/what-we-believe Then find and click on Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) on the left side of the screen. In the search box, enter 971, 2673-2679.