To: (Multiple email addresses may be specified by separating them with a comma)
The Blessed Mother’s month is nearly over, but Joe Cullen says it’s never too late to pick up your rosary and follow Mary.
BY Joe Cullen
I was speaking with a friend about a topic that we
would soon take up in our Catholic men’s group — practical ways of instilling
love for Mary in our children. I felt stumped. What book should we discuss? Do
we have any tapes on the subject? Should we ask one of our parish priests to
know that children learn best by example, especially by what they see their
parents doing. But I have also been impressed by anti-drug, anti-alcohol and
pro-abstinence sexual-education programs that underline the importance of
parents talking to their kids, sharing their beliefs and laying out their
future Pope John Paul II learned the importance of prayer as a boy by watching
his father kneel every morning and evening. But his prayer life was also shaped
by a lay apostle who was a local shopkeeper.
gave this question about teaching devotion to Our Lady to our children a lot of
thought because the Marian devotion of my childhood was not strong.
grew up in the 1960s without much knowledge or interest in the Blessed Mother,
falling prey to the old canard that this devotion is anti-ecumenical, lacks
biblical foundation and distracts us from the love of Christ. Then, one summer,
I agreed to take part in an evening Rosary a few nights a week with some other
young men. The change in my attitude toward Mary did not come overnight, but I
did resolve to make the Rosary a part of my life.
becoming a parent, I didn’t set out to teach my sons the Rosary or even to
consciously inculcate a place for the mother of Jesus in their prayers. I just
made sure to pray together with them every night and, because I do say the
Rosary daily, I almost always have a decade or two left to be prayed at the end
of the day. I use a portion of our prayer time to finish.
to say, they know the Rosary prayers by heart and, at ages 5 and 7, they can
probably name most of the mysteries. They know about Mary, the important events
of her life, and how we need her prayers. They know she is intimately caught up
in the life of Jesus and that she is part of all things Catholic. They have
never not been aware of her.
time for the meeting came, the discussion leader took a simple approach. He
played a tape of monks singing the “Salve Regina,” handed out photocopies of
the most important Marian prayers and told us about his own devotion. He led us
in Our Lady’s litany, known as the Litany of Loreto. He taught us devotion to
the Virgin Mary with some words, yes, but mostly by leading us in devotion to
the Virgin Mary.
lesson was clear: The best way to teach kids about Mary and to encourage an
active love for her is for the parent-teacher to become devoted to — or more
devoted to — Our Lady.
love for her is at work in our lives, we pass it on mostly by simply practicing
it. And the Rosary is the best practice. Unlike most other prayers, the Rosary
comes with a fascinating, beautiful, tactile thing. Kids go right for
however, the beads just sit in a drawer, the interest of the child will wane.
He’ll see the rosary as a boring knickknack. If they are brought out and held
each day, kissed reverently and prayed with love, he’ll see the seeds of a
Joe Cullen works
(and prays the Rosary)
on Wall Street in New York City.