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.
We live now as on Noah’s ark, waiting for the storm waters to subside. It is not safe yet, and every part of society is affected, whether it recognizes it or not.
On our walks in the neighborhood, we see the same dogs, and they no longer bark at us. We’ve become familiar. Everyone waves, whether in a car or on foot, because we’re all looking for some hint of connection beyond those in our own home — to be seen, to be noticed. Even while picking up groceries, the person loading the trunk takes extra time to talk, because we’re all tired of the strange silence that comes from living in isolation.
The longer this goes on, the more hungry we will be for some conversation beyond our own heads, and that’s where God eagerly invites himself into our hearts. On the course of our daily walk, my husband begins the Rosary. It doesn’t matter who accompanies him — they say the Rosary. On rainy days, we take the car on a necessary errand and say the Rosary on the way. It’s become a gift of the day, which also helps us sort the days (by the mysteries) that otherwise blur together. It also staples a guaranteed break in the afternoon when the world and work threatens to just bleed out everywhere, taking over all time that might otherwise be devoted to family, because we no longer have a clear line between work and home.
In the course of saying the Rosary, our family tradition is to offer a petition on each prayer. The petitions range across the spectrum, addressing the needs of family, friends, neighbors, the world and ourselves. We ask Mary to protect us, to intercede for us, and to help us unite any and all of our sufferings with the redemptive work of her son.
When we walk, Mary walks with us, knitting our souls with the prayers, mending the wounds we’ve inflicted by sins, error, misunderstandings and all our faults. She also intercedes for those who are not walking with us, whenever we ask, and so brings to us graces we did not know we needed — especially to do God’s will in more than those things where we willingly want to cooperate.
The Holy Father likewise has invited all of the faithful to walk with Mary this May, composing two prayers to say at the conclusion of the Rosary, in response to the pandemic.
Pope Francis’ first prayer reminds us that the servants who did what Jesus told them to do, at Mary’s instruction, knew the results of their obedience, though the beneficiaries of that manifestation of God’s glory did not.
You shine continuously on our journey
as a sign of salvation and hope.
We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick,
who, at the foot of the cross,
were united with Jesus’ suffering,
and persevered in your faith.
‘Protectress of the Roman people,’
you know our needs,
and we know that you will provide,
so that, as at Cana in Galilee,
joy and celebration may return
after this time of trial.
Help us, Mother of Divine Love,
to conform ourselves to the will of the Father
and to do what Jesus tells us.
For he took upon himself our suffering,
and burdened himself with our sorrows
to bring us, through the cross,
to the joy of the Resurrection.
We fly to your protection,
O Holy Mother of God;
Do not despise our petitions
in our necessities,
but deliver us always
from every danger,
O Glorious and Blessed Virgin.
We know that Mary hears our prayers and d brings our worries, whatever they really are, to her Son.
The second new prayer reminds us to consider the great power and gift of intercessory prayer. Imagine if all of us took a walk every day to pray with the Pope for our families, our neighbors and the world.
‘We fly to your protection, O Holy Mother of God.’
In the present tragic situation, when the whole world is prey to suffering and anxiety, we fly to you, Mother of God and our Mother, and seek refuge under your protection.
Virgin Mary, turn your merciful eyes towards us amid this coronavirus pandemic. Comfort those who are distraught and mourn their loved ones who have died, and at times are buried in a way that grieves them deeply. Be close to those who are concerned for their loved ones who are sick and who, in order to prevent the spread of the disease, cannot be close to them. Fill with hope those who are troubled by the uncertainty of the future and the consequences for the economy and employment.
Mother of God and our Mother, pray for us to God, the Father of mercies, that this great suffering may end and that hope and peace may dawn anew. Plead with your divine Son, as you did at Cana, so that the families of the sick and the victims be comforted, and their hearts be opened to confidence and trust.
Protect those doctors, nurses, health workers and volunteers who are on the front line of this emergency, and are risking their lives to save others. Support their heroic effort and grant them strength, generosity and continued health.
Be close to those who assist the sick night and day, and to priests who, in their pastoral concern and fidelity to the Gospel, are trying to help and support everyone.
Blessed Virgin, illumine the minds of men and women engaged in scientific research, that they may find effective solutions to overcome this virus.
Support national leaders, that with wisdom, solicitude and generosity they may come to the aid of those lacking the basic necessities of life and may devise social and economic solutions inspired by farsightedness and solidarity.
Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future.
Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need. Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.
Mary, Consolation of the afflicted, embrace all your children in distress and pray that God will stretch out his all-powerful hand and free us from this terrible pandemic, so that life can serenely resume its normal course.
To you, who shine on our journey as a sign of salvation and hope, do we entrust ourselves, O Clement, O Loving, O Sweet Virgin Mary. Amen.
Imagine if everyone began walking with Mary every day — how many cisterns, currently filled with water, would be transformed into wine. Today, ask Mary to go with you on the walk, and to carry your cares to her Son.