The sweet fragrance of roses, a feeling of God’s closeness, the sign of Mary, Mother of God, assuring us that peace, love, and sanctity are real. Does everyone have these experiences? Perhaps not. But, all may be certain that when this phenomenon occurs, Mary is close by.
While in Texas, in ministry, a close friend invited me to lunch at a buffet restaurant. As we went down one aisle he advised me to tell him what I experienced as we approached one area. I smiled saying the strong aroma of roses. The next round of passing by this same area again, the strong fragrance of roses. There were no plants of flowers, just some greens growing in planters as a separation between the aisles. But, definitely there were no roses anywhere to be seen. Mike's response was this scent of roses, in this very spot, was prevalent any time he came here to eat.
I have no idea if anyone else experienced this or if only he and I were privy to this marvelous occurrence. All I know is it was real, very strong, and refreshing to two Catholic men who were stern rosary prayers.
What makes the incident so special is we shouldn’t need something like this to inspire us to become ardent in lifting our hearts to Mary, Mother of God. She alone is the Mediatrix of the Church, the one who always stands before her Son in pleading our needs. And the one element of these essentials is the rosary and our dedication to God, through Mary, His Mother.
Many might say, especially those who look down on us with our honor of Mary, “you Catholics pray to and worship Mary all the while forgetting God.” Not so, we should say. Mother’s Day just passed and how many of these critics would tell us they ignored their mother on her special day. A lot of them brought flowers, no less roses, spent the day with mom, and perhaps treated her to a meal fit for a queen. Should it be any different for the Mother of God?
Name me one son who, even if he has neglected family ties, would dare to ignore his mother; the one who gave him life, nursed him, dressed his wounds when he came crying after falling or getting bruised. The lady who stayed up all night addressing a fever and placing cold wet compresses upon his forehead until the morning came and the fever was gone. Name me one if you can.
How often we may find ourselves in spiritual darkness and our prayers seem to elude us. I once remember Sr. Ann Shields, at a Charismatic seminar in Steubenville, for bishops, priests, and deacons, saying; “when you needed someone to reach out to, ask Mary how we should pray.” I have never forgotten that statement and have come to realize that Mary, the Mother of God is not a replacement for God’s Grace, but an adversary to plead for us through her Son and to our Father.
In prayer, we may often experience interruptions in our meditation via thoughts that don’t belong or visions of worldly occurrences of anything but prayerful events. Do not worry about these as we know someone is allowing these events to pop up (like pop-ups on your computer) to distract the very reason you are praying. The fact that you have decided to pray, meditate, or perform spiritual moments with God is sufficient. Even when Jesus was in the desert praying, the serpent (Satan) interjected thoughts of grandeur, hunger pangs, or most especially the desire to abandon His Mission to worship His Father and worship, instead, wealth and worldly attractions. If Jesus was tempted while praying are we any more less to be tempted in our daily time with God. When these interruptions occur remember Jesus was also interrupted. Do as he said; “be gone from Me satan” and keep on praying.
My rosary beads have become a mainstay and I used to worry that at times I wasn’t able to stay awake late at night to complete what my own requirements bid me to do. I believe Mary told me not to count but just pray. There are many mornings I wake up praying the rosary. Perhaps my mind finishing what I couldn’t complete the night before. The point is, it isn’t multiplying prayers that matters, it is the dedication each of us has as we pick up the beads and begin.
Ralph B. Hathaway May 2018