This reflection on Marian prayer within the family comes from Edmund Adamus at the Office of Marriage and Family Life in Westminster Diocese.
I was recently introduced to the acronym “KPI” which stands for ‘key person of influence.’ It’s a phrase that’s often employed by entrepreneurs and business/lifestyle gurus to challenge individuals to achieve more or aim higher so that one’s circle of influence and impact on others becomes more tangible and measurable. So it struck me that, on this first day of May, the month of Mary, which is often a public holiday elsewhere, as a kind of homage to the world of work, the one who so generously said a resounding “yes” to God is THE key person of influence. After all, if Mary had not directly intervened in the way she did at the wedding feast of Cana, Christ may not have decided to perform his very first miracle at a marriage which, in and of itself, is hugely symbolic of the alignment of his visible Divine personhood with the faithful, fruitful and lifelong human love of man and woman. So Our Lady is incredibly influential by God’s design and May is a great time ,especially within our households, to draw close to her afresh and place ourselves under her influence daily.
The family that prays together stays together as the saying goes and it is no cliché. It is true because it works and it works when we work at it; regularly. I know; the thought of saying the Rosary together in full as a family might, if one is not used to it, sound a bit daunting or just too much to try and get organised even weekly never mind daily. So why not think about breaking down all four mysteries of the Rosary – the Joyful, the Sorrowful, the Glorious and Mysteries of Light – over a four week period for the duration of the month? So, for example, one could invite one’s spouse and/or one’s children or grandchildren (or nieces and nephews even) to recite one decade of the Rosary a day (Monday-Friday for example) and use the weekend to recite the Litany of Loreto or some other appropriate prayer to the BVM KPI. Then, by the end of the month, one will have prayed with the children the entire Rosary! Who knows, at the end of the month, having established a pattern and rhythm of recitation the kids might even surprise you and ask to make it a regular practice?
Another thought as to why it becomes so incredibly important to try and cultivate the habit of prayer with our children, is because the prayers of little ones are immensely powerful in supernatural terms. We shouldn’t be surprised at this. The legend of the founding of Le Mont Saint Michel in France (see below) is a metaphor for this power. Think of how the persistent requests of a 4 year old Irish girl for Holy Communion and her reputation for sanctity made such a profound impact upon Pope St Pius X, that it persuaded him to issue the decree Quam singulari, to lower the age of First Holy Communion.
Think of how often (and in my case it’s a lot!) you can be forced to sit up and listen and take note of an admonition or fervent plea from your child which humbles you because you know you’re in the wrong! Let’s be honest; you’d have to have a very hard heart not to be softened and chastened by the plea of a child. Well if we know that as a reality in human relations, how much more so does itAPPLY in heavenly terms. “What father among you would give his son a stone if he asked for bread, or a snake when he asked for a fish?” as Christ said. Blessed Pope Paul VI nailed it in two key teachings in the 1960s. At the height of the Cuban Missile crisis, when the world was teetering on the brink of a nuclear war, he cried out for global prayers to Our Lady to avert war not once but twice, in two separate encyclicals, and he singled out the powerful and unmistakable efficacy of the intercession of children and the sick. “We are relying particularly on the prayers of children…for their pleas have special powerto penetrate heaven.” (Mense Maio .n14) “especially boys and girls in the flower of their innocence”(Christi Matri n11)
A former leader of the IBM Executive School commented ‘A worthwhile mission properly articulated galvanises ordinary people with extraordinary even explosive results’. Since it was Our Blessed Lady who said to the servants at the wedding feast of Cana, “Do whatever He tells you” as a prelude to the miracle that followed, then we can expect explosive holy results by contemplating the life of Christ and His Gospel with and through Mary by the Rosary especially with children alongside us. One final thought is this; when the shepherd boy David picked up his pebbles from a stream to put in his pouch to bring down the mighty Goliath with his sling shot, he chose not one but five smooth stones (1 Samuel 17-40). We should think of our five decades of the Rosary perhaps as our own five smooth stones to bring down and vanquish whatever it is that might be menacing our own relationship with God and in particular the health and vitality of our households. “Be not afraid” as Pope St. John Paul II declared. And indeed with Our Heavenly Mother, our ‘KPI’ at our side all throughout May, then truly, what have we to fear?
“Early in the 8th century, the Bishop of Avranches, St. Aubert, wanted to build a shrine to the Archangel St. Michael on the site of a pagan monument, but the last stone of the old temple was too heavy to overturn. The men of the area were ordered to bring their sons, but they were not help enough. The Bishop asked if all had been brought and the father of sixteen admitted that he had left one at home but he was an infant. “Bring him!” bellowed the Bishop, and when the saint placed the child’s tiny foot against the stone, the whole pagan edifice fell. By God’s grace the great stones of pagan pride in our society can be overturned. Great men and women with learned voices and worthy example will lead the way; but the final stone will be overturned by a mother’s baby. Each baby is the conscience of a culture. And when the last stone falls and a Christian age begins to flower… A newer song will be raised to the Mother of God and our Mother: “Hail Mary full of grace!” [From ‘The Seven Wonders of the World’ chapter 3 George W Rutler pp76-77.]