Dedicated to Mary, Because it’s Hard to Argue with Miracles
The Rosary was developed in the Middle Ages to fight a heresy about Jesus, Some were teaching that Jesus was not God from the moment of conception. To counter this, Mary appeared to St. Dominic and gave him the Rosary; it has fifteen mysteries which revolve around the Incarnation.
See the rest of the story below.
Starting from the Annunciation – that she would conceive Jesus by the power of The Holy Spirit – these mysteries take us through Jesus’ life as Man and God, to His Suffering, Death, Burial and Resurrection. The last two mysteries, Mary’s Assumption and Coronation, appear to be about Mary, but deeper meditation show that they are about the Body of Christ, the Church, who will someday be assumed into Heaven and be crowned, the Bride of Christ. These events did happen to Our Lady, and she has always been seen since the earliest Christian writings, as the Icon of the Church.
Sadly, many do not realize that they should be meditating on these mysteries as they pray, but when the Rosary was developed, it was the way people learned. In the thirteenth century, you could not go up the street to your local store and buy a Bible. Most people couldn’t read, so the Church used our prayer life as a way of drilling home Truths about the Catholic faith.
If you go through the words of the Hail Mary carefully, you’ll see this prayer was given to fight a heresy about Jesus not being God from the moment of conception. Every time a Christian leads someone to Christ, or assists a fellow Christian in the process of sanctification by word, deed, action, or prayer they are playing the role of co-redeemer. That is what it means to be a co-redeemer and indeed a Christian.
Mary played a particular role in the redemption of mankind by bringing Christ into the world. She continues that role by her intercession. St. James wrote that “the prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16) Mary, being righteous, and in the presence of God, and therefore knowing His will, has an intrinsically powerful ministry of intercession.
And this is why it is so important we acknowledge the power and presence of Mary in our lives. She intercedes. She hears our deepest fears like only a mother can. She puts her arms around us and reminds us that love – in this life, or in the hereafter – is the only thing that matters.
Tom and Marge Harrington have dedicated themselves to the person and spirit that exemplify what it means to be a mother – Mary. The couple leads the Rosary in our Parish Monday through Saturday after daily Mass, and their devotion to Mary is the cornerstone of their faith. And as we’re each called to be co-redeemers, this is their way of leading people to Christ. We asked them to share with us the reasons behind this devotion. Here are some of their answers.
Tom: My earliest recollection of the Blessed Mother, as part of my life, occurred on December 7, 1941. I had before that observed my grandmother with beads but I didn’t pay any particular attention to what the beads were. I had been at a movie and in the middle of things they turned the lights on and told us we had to go home because the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. I didn’t know who the Japanese were. I certainly didn’t know where Pearl Harbor was. I was all of five – going on six years old. So I took the bus to my grandmother’s house and when I got there my whole family was there. I thought I was telling them something, but they seemed to know all about it. My grandmother said, “ We have to say the Rosary “ and we started saying the Rosary on that day. From that day in l941 until I left for the seminary, it became a thing that we did every Sunday as a family. This was the Harrington side of the family and I later learned my grandmother, who came from Germany, had been doing the same. And they were always praying to Our Lady of Fatima. They told me about the promises of Fatima. They told me what the Blessed Mother had said at Fatima and that, too, became part of my life until I left for the seminary. In seminary, the Rosary is done in a different setting completely. When I went off to college it stopped for a while. I left college and went to law school in St Louis where I moved in with an elderly woman who had just as much devotion to the Blessed Mother as anyone I had experienced in my life. She got me back to saying the Rosary every day.
DH: Marge, can you tell me about your involvement with the Blessed Mother in your life?
Marge: Yes. I became acquainted with the Blessed Mother very quickly in my young life. My mother loved the piano. We’d have everyone over our house and we would sing Our Lady of Fatima and we would pray the Rosary. And then on Saturdays all the children in the neighborhood would come to our house. She would have the Rosary around noon, and then give us fresh lemonade and fresh baked cookies. Of course they were coming for the cookies and lemonade, but they learned how to say the Rosary. So this happened from the time we were little. We went to a Catholic high school and college where we were saying the Rosary all the time. Everybody had a Rosary on them, and this was just something you did.
DH: So what does it do for you? What do you get out of it?
Marge: For one thing, it gets you out of yourself. You concentrate on the words of the Rosary. And I always have someone that I am asking for, thanking for, or praying for. And I pray for guidance and thanksgiving for those who cannot pray for themselves, or those who don’t know about Mary. She’s the Mother of everything.
DH: How has Mary guided you through being the mother of five children?
Marge: Well, when I learned I would never bear children I wept terribly. Then we prayed and prayed and prayed. We got married and very quickly thereafter learned that I was pregnant. And I prayed to the Blessed Mother, “Oh please let this birth happen.” And we went on to have five living children with a total of eight pregnancies. Mary has guided all of us. Even when they were growing up we would always have the Rosary at our house. And when they were little children, we would hear the night prayers with them kneeling in front of the couch. As they got older it was part of a ritual – get ready for bed and come downstairs for prayers. As they got older, we would bless each child with holy water and spend time with each one in their own room. They all have a devotion to the Blessed Mother today as well. On Friday nights, several families in our neighborhood would get together for a meal and then say the Rosary. Then the kids would all play in the street and the adults would socialize.
DH: And where was this? It sounds like a big Catholic Community.
Marge: Dayton, OH. Yes it was. They had a church but they didn’t have a school when we got there. We moved there because he got a job to practice law.
Tom: The neighborhood we lived in was called “little Vatican City”. What happened was, the archdiocese decided to build high schools in the early ‘60’s and one was built four miles from our house. And around this high school a large percentage of the population was Catholic. We were in a new parish called St Charles, and we both became very active.
DH: Tell me, Marge, how has the vocation of motherhood changed in the eyes of our culture from back then, as you talk about this neighborhood, to now, where a lot of people don’t know their neighbors.
Marge: Who do you count on unless you have good neighbors? Today, a lot of people don’t have the cushion of family and friends. I think it’s a very difficult world today and God bless the people who can still do it and are going to work, mothering and being good wives. It’s very, very difficult. So I give them a lot of credit and I know that the Blessed Mother is right with them, every step of the way. And She will be.
DH: And what advice might you give them?
Marge: You do what you can do, because peace comes from your inner strength – and that is given by the directions of the Holy Spirit. Everything that you want to know, He’s got. Every morning I wake up and pray. An active prayer life is so important. An active prayer life leads to the knowledge of the Holy Spirit. A lot of people have lost that. We don’t have the time! Let’s be honest, our country is driven by money, and the only “news” we see is bad news. Turn off the bad news!
DH: I don’t have children, but it’s really scary if you’re paying attention to the media at all. How are parents supposed to counteract the over-sexualized, hyper-violent messaging that constantly bombards their little young minds?
Marge: That’s a good question, because – I know this sounds old-fashioned – but you really have to watch them. Be with them. Children sort of need to be tethered, and pruned like trees so they grow up tall and strong. When they’re young, the don’t have the deepest roots. Parents, the Church and school are their roots. So if these things are in place, and committed their development, they’ll grow up and eventually have deep roots. When the storms come – and they will come – they will survive them.
DH: I have some friends with kids that are approaching teenage years. It’s always a little scary, no matter how much groundwork has been done, to watch a child go through those changes. What advice would you give the parents… actually, what would you tell the kids, especially girls, about how to live life?
Marge: Be yourself. Don’t try to imitate some movie star. We had this program back in high school called, literally, “Be Yourself”. The nuns came up with this, and it was an all-encompassing program on just… the way to live. Be positive. Be joyful. Listen to God. Don’t talk negatively about others. Mind your own business (unless you see someone getting hurt). These are rules that have been all but forgotten these days.
DH: Really good advice. I’m reading this book right now called Overwhelmed: work, love and play, when no one has the time, and it’s all about how no one has enough time, everyone’s schedule is so packed tight. It’s a book actually written to women, but my sister gave it to me when she was done with it…. Anyway, as I’m reading this book, I’m thinking, is it because people are more self-centered today, which is why we don’t think we have enough time for ourselves? OR, have things really gotten busier in our world and are people spread so thin they can’t focus on things that really matter – like family and time with loved ones? How do you see that phenomenon playing out in our world?
Marge: It’s here. You’d think it would be easier with all of the mechanical things we have. But everybody seems to think that they need a whole lot of stuff – and it’s just stuff. You don’t have to have a television. You don’t have to have a computer (or 3). You don’t have to have an iPad. You know, the hippies almost had it right. If you could get rid of all the things out there and then just center on good food, good weather, good health, and then each other… you can see the sun rise in the morning and go down at night. And you can enjoy life instead of all this running here and there, and having this and having that. It’s all nonsense. It wears people out. You don’t need all that stuff.
DH: You have daughters I assume – and if you had 5 sons… God bless you. What have you taught them about motherhood?
Marge: Yes, I have daughters, and they know exactly what it means to be a mother. They are right on track. They have their priorities, they have their families.
DH: So tell me what you think people would gain from dedicating more of their prayer life and attention to the Blessed Mother.
Marge: Everything – if they could concentrate on the holiness and femininity of the Blessed Mother. She just has such a sweet joy pouring out of her. And you just know that she radiates holiness. Like a mother, She is kind. When I think of her, I think of flowers and gentleness, and kindness.
Tom: I don’t want to convey the impression that we, or our family, are perfect . We’re just ordinary people. But when I have gotten off track, I’m 100% certain that the reason I have gotten back on track is because I have a mother guiding me from heaven. I feel mothers have a gentle way with guiding, persuading and improving. Marge has kept us together because we have certainly had rough times. She kept us focused on family, Church and our God. When I was in seminary there was a phrase “Go to Mary”. If you have a problem, go to Mary. Jesus was God in man, and as a man He had an Achilles heel as does every other man – and that was His mother. He can never say no to her. If you go to Mary, your prayers will be answered. It may not be the answer you want, but it will be answered.