Years ago in the now-disappeared Louisville neighborhood of Highland Park, there was a fellow — the father of a large family — who spent his workdays as a handyman and his leisure time walking through his community.
Tucked between the airport on one side and the Louisville & Nashville Railroad (now CSX) tracks on the other, the area where the handyman took his frequent constitutionals was filled with homes on the lower end of “modest,” and neighbors who, for the most part, both worked and played hard.
The walking man was ubiquitous; he was seen in every part of the neighborhood just about every weekend. There were summertime days when the boys of Highland Park would follow him around, trying to keep pace and wondering about the strand of beads he carried, and the words that he was silently repeating with every step.
They would come to know, over time, that he was saying:
“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
What the frail and spindly walker was doing might not have been obvious to the boys traipsing behind him, but as grown men at least a few of them came to know that this perambulating gentleman was taking solace in the rosary. He was finding comfort in his faith, in a prayer that the world over — Catholic and non-Catholic — has come to know.
His was a simple act — he walked and prayed.
In today’s life, with our mobile social media, with the information super-highways and constant streams of data, facts and figures available at the twitch of a thumb, it may be that a lot of us don’t take the time for such simplicity.
But there’s little doubt that we should.
October is the month each year that the church dedicates to the rosary. Just last week in the Oct. 4 issue of The Record, there was a story about Holy Cross Father James Phalan’s belief that the rosary can play a significant role in the life of the church and her people — especially as we begin the Year of Faith.
That special 12-month period begins today, Oct. 11, and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the opening day of the Second Vatican Council. What a good time to remember — to reawaken — something that might have been shoved aside in favor of iPhones and Blackberries, texts and tweets.
Father Phalan, director of Family Rosary International, noted in last week’s story that Pope Benedict XVI has entrusted the world Synod of Bishops, which began Oct. 7, to the intercession of Mary. And the rosary, he said, can stimulate missionary activity by leading Christians to meditate on the life of Jesus.
“Mary has always been the mother of evangelization,” he said, because “she’s always been the one who shows us Jesus.”
It may be that the simple act of taking up the rosary could lead us to spend a few moments each day growing more closely to the one whose grace guides our lives. And it may be that, in taking up the rosary, someone else might notice the act — the joy and reverie it produces in those who take time to experience it.
Over the years we may have forgotten the “Mysteries of the Rosary” — the joyful, sorrowful, glorious and luminous mysteries that follow the life of Christ from the Annunciation to the Ascension. But here in the heart of the Archdiocese of Louisville, there is an organization whose very existence is devoted to sharing rosaries, the comfort they can bring, with people the world over.
Our Lady’s Rosary Makers International on Poplar Level Road was founded back in 1949 by Brother Sylvan Mattingly at St. Xavier High School. It’s activities have been featured, from time to time, in this newspaper — and will be again in the near future. But nowadays the organization’s leaders, Michael Ford and Marty Carraro, are on a new mission to raise awareness of the rosary maker’s mission and ministry.
They especially want to introduce young Catholics — at the high school and elementary school level — to blessings found in the rosary and to the work of Our Lady’s Rosary Maker’s International. The organization, which makes and ships more than six million rosaries and rosary parts around the world each year, has been featured in local news stories recently and will be the subject of a November article in Catholic Digest.
On the first Saturday of each month, Our Lady’s Rosary Makers holds a class in making rosaries. Each class begins after a Mass at 8 a.m., and they’d appreciate your participation.
And, if you’re lacking a rosary, they have one for you.