Prayers BY: Maureen McGuinness

 prayer roots

I’m changing my prayer routine for the New Year.

For most of my life my prayers have centered on the Blessed Mother.

As a teen babysitting, soothing a crying baby in the comfort of a carpeted and heated home while reciting Hail Mary’s put my problems in perspective. I was a middle class teen living in the abundance of America getting paid to mind a crying baby. Meanwhile Mary had been my age living in caves with dirt floors caring for her own child.

As a college student struggling with my studies, again I would focus on Mary’s life. She raised our Savior. Her challenge was great; writing a paper on Russian history not so great.

Any life experiences I have struggled with I have been able to bring to the Blessed Mother and ask her to intercede on my behalf or take comfort in the ritual of the Rosary.

Let me be clear, I love Mary. However this year I am expanding my prayer.

The very first prayer I learned as a child was to my Guardian Angels. Our family also said a prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

One of the great stories of our family was when my brother was getting ready to enter kindergarten at the parish school. All incoming kindergartners were required to recite a prayer for the principal. Most said a Hail Mary or Grace Before Meals. My little brother, with unruly blond curly hair, who had lost both front teeth in a scuffle at age four, proceeded to recite “St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our protection against the malice and snares of the devil…”

Sister Mary Presentation had a hard time keeping a straight face but was very impressed.

I believe it was in my teen years that I gave up on angels. I think I put angels in the same realm as fairies, magical mythical beings. Beings you can’t see so they must not be real.

My grandparents had a deep appreciation for angels. My grandfather would insist that priests had two guardian angels as opposed to the one all of the rest of us have. This just pushed my teen-aged self to the edge and I allowed angels to drop off my radar.

Now I have aged and mellowed. I have children. We pray to their guardian angels at night. When they were little their favorite book was about a baby and the angels that watched over her.

As I have reflected on the Blessed Mother’s life I can see that she let angels into her life. It’s as if she’s telling me there are an infinite number of beings who can help me on this journey.

My reawakening toward angels came through a friend a few years ago. I was having some challenges at work and my friend asked if I asked St. Michael to help me at work. I had not. (Was she crazy?)

She instructed me to pray and reflect on St. Michael on my drive in, to invite him to be with me in the work place and protect and guide me. I listened. The challenges no longer bothered me.

As the New Year started my heater broke. As I struggled trying to fix it, I asked Mary to intercede; I reflected on the lives of every Rosie the Riveter I knew; I asked my Papa to intercede and give me the wisdom to fix the heater. The heater was still not working.

I reached the cursing stage. I put down my tools. I asked St. Michael to take over. I went upstairs, texted my brother for help and within the hour everything was working again.

I don’t understand angels. I do know there is a distinction between a spirit and an angel. When I die my spirit will still exist, it will not turn into an angel as the Hallmark Movie Channel suggests. An angel is a distinct being created by God. I suspect the angels around me and my family love us in a way I can’t understand.

I will spend this year inviting them into my life, hoping to get to know them better.

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