Prayers of a Spiritual Auntie

_DSC3155It’s a very tiny ministry that began last spring, praying for little people. It began by accident—if ever a thing of the Holy can be an accident—when an acquaintance asked that I pray for his children caught in the middle of his marital unrest.

After saying I would, there was a desire to pray specifically, and I asked for the name of each child. There were several; his was—and still is—a large Catholic family that was nearly run off the tracks.

I’ve never had children, nor really been around kids much through my life. I remember a dear friend spoke of praying for her sons and daughters, and another friend told me of tracing a cross on the foreheads of his children as he kissed them good-night.

The evening after our encounter the verse in Isaiah 54 came to mind:

Sing, O barren one, who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud, you who have not been in travail! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her that is married, says the LORD.

…and the one from Psalms 113 also nudged me:

He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children.

Here, I thought, was a way to love children that were not through me. And so began my ministry to pray for the future of our Church, a ministry I hope you too will adopt.

Image by Margaret Rose Realy Obl OSB. All rights reserved.

Image by Margaret Rose Realy Obl OSB. All rights reserved.

I purchased a small notebook that would fit in my purse or pocket, taped an old prayer card on the cover, and began seeking opportunities to ask permission from parents to add their children’s names to the book. The usual response was an enthusiastic, “Oh, please do!” The little book goes with me to Adoration and Mass, and has been touched to the Blessed Sacrament.

Included in the notebook is a parents prayer for the protection of children against demonic influences.

Eternal Father, you have entrusted the lives and souls of these children to my care. I beseech Thee now to offer them protection from demonic influences. Protect their eyes, ears, and lips from the lies, deceits, and seductions of the devil. Defend them from the attacks of the evil spirits, as well as those from wicked persons who align themselves with the dark forces. Guide them to virtuous desires and interests, shielding them from music, projections, and written words which are of a diabolical nature. Enlist your angels to stand beside them, leading them away from circumstances which would seduce them to sin. Keep them pure of heart to avoid the temptations of the flesh and physical gratification outside the confines of holy matrimony. Assist them as they struggle against the enticements of the world, showing them that all good things come from you alone, and that by following your laws they will not only attain true happiness, but the gift of eternal life with you in heaven. Amen.

I liked being a spiritual aunt if not a physical parent, and feel a special kind of joy when I see pictures of those for whom I pray shared on social media.

Each morning I ask Mother Mary to pray with me for the protection of the children whose names I bring to her Son.

I kind of like having kids in the oratory.

 

Image of boy and water by Gaborfromhung at morguefiule.com.

Natural Order: Even the Birds Know What to Defend

sunset

Sunset view from the oratory.

I finished praying Compline as the sun was setting, displaying a glorious coral and periwinkle sky. My heart was still troubled from the anger unleashed by the decision to allow gay couples legal union. Both sides, homosexuals and people of the cross, were spitting and hissing; the battle was decided and the war still raged.

The ugliness had driven me off-line. I ached as I prayed for the souls of the losers, for all had lost—gay and Christian alike. The personal decision to choose where a penis does or does not go had become public, vulgar, and base. It appeared Satan had won all bets.

My contemplation was sharply ended by the screams of robins piercing the night. Their nest was in the apple tree along the west fence where I could, from the oratory window, watch them flit between the branches with worms dangling from their beaks.

I blew out the candle and hurried downstairs to the back door. The flash of the yard light revealed a darkened form scurrying at the edge of the garden, then up and over the back stockade fence. I bless the feral cats that keep the mice in check, but this one had gone too far.

The next morning I went out—momentarily forced to retreat from the fog of mosquitoes and find some repellent—to assess the damage. It was bad. The mudded nest had been torn clean from the limb and partially cracked. By the aggravated chip-chip of the robins I knew there were babies still alive.

Image courtesy morgefile.com.

Image courtesy morgefile.com.

Like the childhood game of Hot Boiled Beans, I knew that I was getting closer to or farther from the chicks by the heated desperation of the parents. Eventually I found three very fat chicks, though one was rather cold from exposure.

I grouped the babies together under the geraniums near the apple tree, and then examined the fallen nest. The adult birds, unconcerned with my size, were flapping and darting at my head trying to protect what was left of their family.

In the shed I cut a couple of lengths of twine, tying one around the circumference of the nest to close the broken side, making sure the branch saddle was straight. Back to the tree, with the step ladder in place, the nest was aligned on a branch and the remaining pieces of twine secured it in the crotch of the limb.

nest with twine

My attempt to secure the broken nest.

Gathering up the chicks, I poured them into the nest, and ducked as an adult’s wing made contact with the top of my head. I folded the ladder, walked it into the shed, and closed the doors.

Looking across the yard at the little family of birds just rescued, I felt sad. The adults had tried to drive away what they thought an intruder, when in truth restoration was taking place. I was trying in my own clumsy way to save this small family.

We all simply want to protect our family. But unlike the birds, we confuse the natural order of things. A sinister force lurks in the night to assail the family where vulnerability is greatest—the babies, the children who have not left the nest.

Images by Margaret Rose Realy, Obl OSB. All rights reserved.