Sherry Antonetti is a freelance writer, blogger and published author of The Book of Helen. She lives just outside of Washington, DC with her husband and their ten children.
Six weeks ago, the traveling Pilgrim Statue of Our Lady of Fatima came to my home. I felt grateful. I'd fallen off from praying the Rosary, and no matter how I tried, I couldn't get through one. I'd get a decade in and get distracted or fall asleep. I'd try in the morning, and find life requiring so much mindfulness, that I forgot.
In the car, traffic seemed to sense, “She's praying—attack pattern Delta,” and I'd either miss a turn or have to reroute around something. In short, I kept failing until she showed up. It helped the first week, until we went on vacation.
You'd think that, with my whole family present and the beautiful blissful unstructured swath of time being away from home affords, I'd have returned full-throttle. It remained a struggle. Like a runner returning after a long hiatus, my spiritual stamina wasn't up to the task.
We returned from vacation and I received a call. They'd be coming to take Mary in a week and I felt sad, like I'd had a visit with my mother and not once really talked to her. We went to Mass that weekend, and the priest let the congregation know that he’d be hearing confessions after Mass. Three of us took the opportunity, and what do you know—I made it through the Rosary that day.
That evening, my husband asked the whole family to help with taking away the dead branches and sawed-off bits. Everyone came out—which was a surprise, because usually such calls for help lead to one or two kids, not all ten. After the work was finished, they organized a soccer game. Again, another surprise, as I'd fully expected all of the older ones to curl back into their computers or phones, and the younger ones to hit the Wii U or their DS games. They played outside for a whole two hours, all of them. Watching, it felt like a touch of Heaven, hearing their laughter.
The final kick of the game, the soccer ball went high and bounced off the top of the statue of Mary we have in the back yard. Though no one counted it as a goal, I knew— Mary was letting me know—she deserved credit for the win. I even called it a “Hail Mary” pass, though that comment got me a boo from my kids.
I didn't want Mary to leave. Not to worry. Mary knew it too. I received an email about a raffle I'd been part of back in June, back the day before the Blessed Mother's statue came to my home. She took care of me. I'd won a statue of the Madonna and Child. The next day I'd be welcoming her back. She nursed me through my dry spell, as it's been possible to get through the Rosary each day since.
I'm not sure, but I think I heard the Blessed Mother say, “GOOOOAAALLLLLLLLLL.”