This Friday I have the honor of offering a Memorial Mass for a remarkable woman, Stephanie O’Keefe, the mother of my wonderful administrative assistant, Ann O’Keefe Bave, who went to the Lord on July 5 after ninety-one elegant and vibrant years.
I met her family at lunch after we had buried her—a Funeral Mass was not possible with Covid-19 restrictions—and relished their sharing of memories.
One of her sons, Michael, a successful movie actor, was later kind in sharing with me a moving article he wrote for Irish Central in which he reflects on the powerful emotions he went through at his mom’s passing.
While Michael is the first to admit he’s hardly an “alt-Catholic,” it’s clear to me from his meditation that the “Catholic imagination” runs deep in him.
In the room at his mom’s bedside only moments after she had died, Michael reports that he was able to connect with his mom through the Rosary. She held one in her hands, given to her by the hospital chaplain. Michael took it, and prayed it, for, and with his mom, “...now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
The enchanting, mystical, timeless power of the Rosary! Thank you, Michael, for reminding us! Thank you, mom, for passing it on to your kids.
My own dear Mom, the same age as Stephanie, is doing well, thank God, but two weeks ago called me frantic to report she had lost her rosary! What I was supposed to do about it up here in New York, and which one of the dozen rosaries I’ve sent her she could not find, she did not say. But, there it is again: the enchanting, mystical, timeless power of the Rosary. All she knew is that it would be tough to get through the day without it!
As I write this I reach over to the Irish rosary from Knock I’ve carried for decades; in my chapel I have one of Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen; and on my nightstand is my grandma’s—which glows in the dark.
It’s simple, childlike, biblical, repetitive...all rather appealing traits of fruitful prayer.
I bring it up because October is the month of the Rosary. This Wednesday, October 7, was the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Sister Bosco in second grade, told us that October is the month for the Rosary because it’s filled with brilliant colors, the bluest skies, and crisp winds, reminding us of the radiance of Mary. It’s also the month when summer fades and autumn is lavish, reminding us of life’s journey, our passing through life, just as we recall Jesus doing when we finger the beads meditating on His birth, life, death, resurrection, and ascension!
A couple weeks ago, I’m in another traffic jam. So, I decided to pray the Rosary. (That’s another place I keep one, hanging from the mirror.) Right alongside of us was a fellow slowly creeping along, keeping up with us, and we exchanged a wave and a smile. Then I noted he had a rosary dangling from his rear view mirror. I roll down the window, show him my rosary in my hands, and let him know I’m praying it. He looked confused and says, “I just thought it was a decoration. I didn’t think it was meant to be used!
Think again! Especially in October!
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