by Vera Grant AMMM Ireland 12.09.2023
Donegal in August – 4 seasons in one day, it is said. Together Maggie and I walked slowly, deep in thought and thankful to be out now that the rain was staying away.
On passing the cemetery I broke the silence saying, ‘I called in here yesterday to say a few prayers.’
‘What kind of prayers did you say?’ was the response.
I laughed and, in regaling the story of my dearly loved Sr. Josefa, I recalled the day when on a visit to Belfast she suggested we went to the grave of my nephew and grandson who had taken his own life.
Josefa stood and waited whilst I blessed myself and was about to say The Memorare only to stop when I heard Josefa’s voice, ‘Hello Ronan I am sorry that I never got to meet you, but I am here now and wanted to have some time to talk’.
Josefa continued her conversation as I waited patiently for her to start praying. Suddenly she was saying, ‘Bye Ronan I hope that I will get back to talk to you again’.
I looked at her in amazement and said, ‘are you not going to pray?’ She smiled in replying, ‘I have said my prayers’.
I have been to visit many graves, those of my husband, my parents and all of those long gone in Bonamargy Abbey in Ballycastle. Not once, not ever, have I said hello and had a chat.
Having shared this with my own children I was heartened when one of them said that she brought her children with her when she visited her Dad’s grave. She said it was much easier now and more fun as she talked to him as Sr. Josefa had done at Ronan’s grave. ‘Hi, dad, its me and I’ve brought Juliet and Olivia to say hello. They never got to meet you and I tell them stories about their Gramps..do you want to hear some stories about them?’
Maggie and I walked on and she broke the silence saying, ‘ I say the Rosary every day, sometimes more than once but they are only words and at times I question myself, do these words mean anything to me?’
Maggie’s uncertainty brought to mind another dear friend also called Margaret. She went to Mass every day until one morning she said to herself, ‘this is meaningless, it’s only a routine and I am being a hypocrite coming here when it means nothing.
In her distress she went to have a chat with the Parish Priest and his advice was to give herself a break, to just go to Mass on Sundays and to forget about the daily Mass.
I remember her laughing in telling me the story and how she had stayed away for three mornings and on the fourth day she put on her coat and walked down to Mass. She knew that was where she wanted to be and where she belonged.
What I have taken from the sharing of these very wise women is whatever way we connect to God we are praying. For some it is going to Mass, for others it is saying the Rosary, some like to chat, some meditate, many do novenas…all are about connecting with God and having him in our lives.