Mary’s mission is always to lead her children to a deeper union with her Divine Son. She was entrusted with this particular mission by Jesus Himself when He looked down on her adoring and sorrowful face at the foot of His cross.
With His dying breath He said, “Mother, behold your son. Son behold your mother.”
Standing there, eyes riveted on Her beloved Son, Mary was engulfed in a fathomless anguish. John, the apostle, held her up, supporting her as she watched Jesus’ final agony. In their grief and their love for Jesus, Mary and John’s hearts were united.
Jesus was returning to His heavenly Father but He would not leave us orphans. Mary had cared for His every need throughout His earthly life, now He was giving His mother, not just to John, but to all of humanity so that she might do the same for us. Who better to fulfill this mission than the Mother of God herself?
Yet, though we may know all of this, we often act as if we are orphans. When we hear the terrible headlines of the day and fear the future, we can easily find ourselves believing that evil’s triumph, at least in the short term, is inevitable.
Personally, I know that I have often struggled, especially in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre and the Boston bombings, to believe that my measly prayers could have made even a dent in the tide of evil that appeared to be swamping our beloved country. From talking with others, I realized that many of us seemed to be dispirited and grappling with a sense of hopelessness.
Then in April of 2013, when our family was visited by one of several traveling images of Our Lady of Guadalupe,things began to shift. These traveling images, exact photographic replicas of the tilma hanging in the basilica in Mexico, have been associated with many conversions and healings, both spiritual and physical, as well as other interesting phenomena.
On the Feast of the Annunciation, I met a neighbor I barely knew in the parking lot of our local parish. I felt inspired to ask John if he would like the traveling image to visit his home that night. He agreed, and within a few minutes, Mary was ensconced in his living room, much to his wife, Donna’s, immense surprise.
I returned home, but within two hours, Donna called and said excitedly that my family needed to come right over – something incredible was happening! We rushed over to discover that the street in front of their little home was lined with cars and her living room was filled with people praying with the image of Our Lady. It was a very moving scene. Somehow, in response to a few quick calls from Donna, neighbors were arriving non-stop to see Mary. Witnessing this surprising and encouraging scene, it was suggested that perhaps we could start a weekly neighborhood rosary group.
The following month, we began to meet each Thursday night in each other’s homes for one hour to pray the rosary for the needs of our neighborhood. The idea of bringing light to those in darkness, right there in our own area, inspired us all. To pray for our world, and our nation are of course important, but to pray for our particular area, the place where God has sent us to live, seemed to be what Mary was asking of us.
Each week, we now gather to lift up those we do know, in our families and circle of friends, but most importantly we gather to pray for those we may never know. We ask God to bring His powerful grace to our neighbors, whoever they may be. We ask that He lift up the forsaken, the lost and lonely, those who have turned their backs on God, those who might be ill, or addicted, or in a crisis pregnancy. We pray for the protection of the teachers and the children in the surrounding schools and for the police, the fireman and the clergy. In short, we pray however the Holy Spirit leads us and many beautiful blessings have already resulted from this weekly hour of power.
For one thing, over the year since we have begun praying together, we have gotten to know lots of our neighbors and our prayer community has grown as word of our meetings has spread. Many in our area who cannot attend ask us to pray for them and their needs, and we frequently hear that they are grateful to us for our support and concern as well as for answered prayers.
In fact, other neighborhoods have begun forming their own prayer groups and word has even spread to a young man incarcerated in another state. This prisoner has only just rediscovered his childhood faith and through the encouragement of someone in one of our neighboring rosary groups, he has courageously begun his own “neighborhood” rosary group. Inspired to pray the rosary for the renewal and transformation of all who work and live within those walls, he has stepped out in faith and asked other prisoners to join him. Already, the prison is feeling the positive effects of Mary’s motherly love. “Coincidentally,” the prison is called Guadalupe Prison.
If you are interested in starting a neighborhood rosary group in your area, please see the page entitled Neighborhood Rosary Group DIY.
Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us all!