Our Lady of the Helium Rosary, pray for us!

| Liz Kelly | October 22, 2019 | 0 Comments

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At a recent retreat I led for a group of women outside of Tucson, Arizona, the women arrived, one by one, weary, worn out, spent with good works and hoping for the impossible. They brought with them an unusual heaviness; their burdens were exceptional.

One woman was a victim’s advocate — the horror stories collected in her like a terrible, dark library; her dreams were frequently populated by demons who tried to possess her. She would send them away in her dreams declaring, “I belong to Jesus and you can’t have me!” Another worked with delinquent teenage girls — the concern she carried for them was palpable, like a heavy, wet cloak she could never take off. She knew the dangers they faced on a daily basis were nothing short of potentially catastrophic.

Another worked with the emotionally disabled.

This woman came and crumpled before me like a dry leaf. Diminutive in stature, she couldn’t have weighed more than a hundred pounds, and this further diminished by exhaustion and grief. In the past few months, not one but two of her former students had been arrested on charges of murder and attempted murder. Their victims were their own children.

“Really?” she said sobbing. “You want to make a difference, you think you’re making a difference and then this? Really?” The tears poured out of her.

Thus did he lure his daughters into the desert to speak tenderly to them (Hosea 2:14).

There’s not much one can say in the face of such heartbreak. I did try to assure her. I said something about how I’m sure she is making a difference. But for all of her students who are leading more peaceful and more productive lives because of her, their stories don’t make the headlines. Still, one feels one’s utter inadequacy in such moments, and properly so.

But in their suffering I noticed something else, too: they had an unusually strong bond. In the evenings, they had a “pajama party,” where they would gather and go around the circle taking turns sharing their stories, just listening patiently, lovingly to one another, and in this way helping to lighten each other’s burdens.

This communion was especially heightened on the last day. As a part of their send off from the retreat and to celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, some of the women arose at four in the morning to create a helium balloon rosary. It was enormous, blue, white, and gold. Each of the participants was invited to stand in a circle, holding one balloon-bead of the rosary, and as we sang an “Ave” it was released into the air. We watched it with delight as it rose and danced and soared above the desert hills below, dipping here and weaving there, ever rising toward the heavens.

I normally don’t go in for such things, but I’ll confess, this was a magnificent sight, and I had to wonder that it must have filled the Blessed Mother with some delight. How it must have pleased her to gather up so many petitions, so many sorrows, so much weariness — to gather it up into the bosom of her grace. (I posted it on my website in case you’d like to see it.)

She is celebrated as Our Lady of Victory for her intercession at the Battle of Lepanto, but let’s not forget she is Our Lady of Victory for the battles we face, too. She can fight for us in ways we cannot fight for ourselves.

Blessed Mother, the battles still rage and your children grow weary. Give us a renewed spirit, renewed courage to fight for the good, to protect the innocent and the frail, and to remember your grace is always there, dancing, soaring over us, drawing us heart and soul toward heaven.

Kelly is the author of six books, including “Jesus Approaches” and the “Jesus Approaches Take-Home Retreat.” Visit her website at lizk.org.

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