Christianity, Family, Religion

This Time, Next Year…

“Some women know why // Feeling ill brings so much hope. // The greatest let down.”

I’m not a poet, but I love haikus. Several months ago, I wrote this haiku at the end of a highly-symptomatic two week wait that ended in failure. False hope is something that any woman trying to conceive for more than a few months faces at various times during her journey. Generally, our false hope comes in the form of having multiple pregnancy symptoms that – no matter how convincing or plausible – turn out to be the result of something other than pregnancy. But for some of us, false hope shows up in other ways.

About a year ago, in the middle of August an old friend’s husband, that I don’t know very well, approached me through social media to inform me that God had told him I would conceive within a year’s time. My first reaction was surprise that someone I never speak to would contact me to tell me this. My second reaction was skepticism.

I told my husband about what had been said, and although I think he was a little put off by the fact that another man approached me about my fertility – he kept an open mind and said that we should pray about it. After all, we do believe that prophecy can be real. I just happen to believe that most of the time, it isn’t.

Over the next few weeks, I tried to think over some reasons for and against belief. The pros were that (1) As far as I knew, this man knew nothing about our struggle with infertility, (2) he had predicted – or prophesied – the conception of his own child, to the month, well before it happened, and (3) as far as I could tell, this man and his wife are devout believers in Christ who, even if they’d mis-heard God, would not intentionally lie to me.

The cons included questions like (1) why would God speak to some other man about our fertility instead of speaking to my own husband? (2) why did the man’s wife not say anything to me about it – since she is the person with whom I am actually friends? and (3) what if the man did know about my infertility via his wife (who really didn’t know much herself, but could have speculated)? What if they had been praying for us and were just trying to make us feel better, as opposed to actually having had a revelation from God?

I was afraid to believe in something that would turn out to be untrue, but I was also afraid not to believe something that God may have said. I thought it would be better to err on the side of faith, but still wasn’t ready to make that leap. So I discussed my dilemma with God and asked him to confirm whether or not this prophecy was true.

The following month, on the same date that I had received the first prophecy, a woman from my mother’s church revealed that she had seen me and was struck with the impression that I would be pregnant “soon.” Could this be the confirmation? I was still doubtful. I asked God to forgive me if this was supposed to be my “sign,” but I told him that I needed more confirmation than that if I were going to start believing that this prophecy had been true.

For a long time, I got nothing. I wasn’t sure how to interpret God’s silence. It could have meant that God was telling me that the prophecy was not true. It could have meant that the prophecy was true, and God was telling me not to ask for further confirmation since He’d already given it to me. Or, it could have meant that God’s response was to not respond at all in regards to whether or not the prophecy was true. My biggest concern was that I did not want to believe in something that God had not actually promised. What a waste of time that would be!

During this time, I started to mature in this infertility process. I went from naively hoping to be pregnant each month to understanding that ultimately, I want God’s will to trump mine, even if that means I will never conceive. If I’m being honest, I was skeptical of this prophecy for the majority of the year, and my doubt made me feel guilty. I kept remembering the story in the Bible where Jesus did no miracles in Nazareth because the people there did not believe. I started putting effort into believing this prophecy. Every time I thought negatively of it, I tried to correct myself and change my thinking. Whenever I imagined future events – upcoming vacations, relocations, anniversaries, birthdays, etc – I tried to imagine myself either pregnant or with a child in tow. I tried to picture how I would plan to accomplish certain tasks or obligations around this future, mystery baby. Whenever someone else got pregnant (at least fifteen people in my life announced pregnancies during this time period), I told myself that, according to this prophecy, I wasn’t going to be very far behind them.

Still, I struggled with doubt. And the fact that I had received no additional confirmation of this prophecy caused me to believe that most likely, it wasn’t true.

One afternoon I was reading the Bible when I came across the story of Abraham and Sarah. God had come to them and said, “I will return to you this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” (Genesis 18:10). A similar prophecy was made in 2 Kings 4:16, when Elijah prophesied that someone would have a son the following year. I didn’t go looking for these passages, I didn’t even know about them prior to having randomly found them. I wondered if these scriptures could be the confirmation that I had been waiting for? At the very least, they confirmed that God does in fact allow prophecies of the type that I received.

As month after unsuccessful month dragged on, I felt increasingly torn between skepticism and belief and I had no idea how God wanted me to handle it. On one hand, I am skeptical by nature. And although I believe that God can do anything – I need to make sure that He actually said He’d do it before I go around putting any faith into it. On the other hand, I’d heard so many stories in my life of people who had, against all odds, held onto their faith that something would happen and were proven right! I wanted to be on that side of my story. I didn’t want to be the one who gave up. So, finally, in the last five months of the year in question, I decided to put aside all doubts and just believe.

The final cycle in which the prophecy could be fulfilled arrived in August, 2014. By this time, my husband and I had been dealing with infertility for a grand total of four years (depending on when you start counting). We did everything we could to meet the prerequisites for conception, and the two week wait began.

It was one of the more difficult two week waits, for me. It wasn’t just the anxiety surrounding whether or not this would be the cycle. It wasn’t the fact that I literally had no symptoms of pregnancy that month. It wasn’t just the question of how to proceed medically if it didn’t turn out to be the cycle. It wasn’t just the fact that we’d attended our first foster/adoption meeting during this cycle. It wasn’t just the fact that we visited friends whose daughter was conceived at the same time that we’d actively begun trying. It wasn’t just hoping that, even if the prophecy had been false, God would make it true because we’d spent an entire year striving to believe it.

It wasn’t just the fact that I started my period on the day of a family friend’s funeral.

I had erred on the side of faith and had trusted in something that wasn’t God. And yet, God had allowed this to happen. With His complete understanding of all the over-analyzing that goes on inside my head. With His full awareness that I forced myself to believe this untruth because of a desire to please Him in the first place. With His absolute knowledge of whether or not I will ever be a biological mother. Instead of telling me, “Elisabeth, this prophecy is not from me.” He allowed me to believe in a lie. And if a ‘next time’ ever comes around, how will I know whether or not God has truly spoken?

Is it too trusting of me to say that there must be a reason He allowed this? I’m not mad at God. I’m not mad at the false prophet. Things are what they are, and I accept that. But I can’t help but wonder – what is the purpose of wasted time? What is the purpose of false hope?

Is there one?

Family, General, Religion

L’shana Tov!

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I love fresh beginnings. I may be one of the only people in the world that loves change as much as most people love for things to stay the same. So I am kind of delighted with the changes taking place,  both seasonally and personally. 

Fall is here! The crisp air, the crunch of fallen leaves under my shoes as I walk around town, the beauty of red, yellow, and golden trees standing tall together, lining the roads. Caramel Apple Spice from Starbucks… As much as I love spring and summer, I am also a fan of fall. Something about it always fills me with a sense of impending newness.

Rosh Hashanah begins with the sunset tonight. I am not Jewish, but I enjoy the symbolism of Biblical Feast Days and tend to keep up with them throughout the year. Rosh Hashanah – the head of the year – is when it is believed that Earth was created. According to the Hebrew calendar, the year is 5775 and practicing Jews everywhere are wishing one another a sweet new year and hoping that their names will be sealed for a good year ahead. It is a time for reflection and repentance, for those who adhere to this holiday, and for beginning anew with the changes made.

On a more personal note, yesterday was the first day of my ‘lady cycle.’ Anyone trying to concieve or wanting to be pregnant knows how difficult cycle day 1 can be – but I was actually happy yesterday with the appearance of “Aunt Flo’.”

I started a new diagnostic/treatment program called NaPro, and it worked out perfectly that my first day on the program also happened to be the first day of my cycle.

I used to view the start of each new cycle as more of an end. And in a sense, it is. It’s the unwanted and disappointing end to the two week wait. An end of hope for the month. But the start of each new cycle is also a beginning. On the days when I can muster enough strength to hope again, it’s a chance that maybe this will be the last cycle I’ll experience before I have a child in my arms. It’s a chance that maybe this will be the cycle that changes my life, forever.

It may be a little superstitious, but I always feel anxiously hopeful when things align. The beginning of fall, the Biblical new year, the beginning of a new cycle, AND the beginning of a new treatment program – all within two days??

I don’t know what kinds of changes are in store for us, but we have alot of different things we have been working hard to accomplish. I can only hope and pray that God is getting ready to bring a fresh start into our lives this upcoming year.

Christianity, Religion

Adventures In Rosaries // In Summary

I realize that in my last two entries I declared the entry that followed to be the “final” post in this series, but this time it’s for real! This is the last Adventures In Rosaries that we’ll see on this blog! As I mentioned already, I’ve really enjoyed delving into the Rosary and pondering it has given me things to think about, things to re-consider, and has challenged some of my beliefs as well! I wanted to share some of the ways in which I plan to apply my reflections from praying the Rosary into my personal life.

Things to Think About…

I think my second favorite scripture in the Bible is where Mary says, “Let it be unto me as you have said.”
I don’t know why the Rosary gets me thinking about my infertility, but I know that I felt God wanting me to respond in the same way as Mary on the day that I prayed the Rosary for the first time. I am not even going to try to explain how massively difficult it is to be infertile. If you know, you know. If you don’t know, I hope you never have to find out. I hate infertility. I hate that it exists. I hate that anyone has to go through it. I hate that I have to go through it. But I am so in love with Mary’s example, and I want to imitate it. If infertility is what God is allowing to happen to me right now, then I at least want to face it with some courage and respond, “Let it be unto me as you have said.”

Things to Reconsider…

Ever since praying the Rosary, I feel like I have gained a new perspective on hope. As I mentioned in the entry about the Apostle’s Creed, I have started to understand that hope is not about waiting to get what you want – or even waiting for a good turnout – as much as it is about knowing that no matter what, God is sovereign. It is also about hope in the resurrection, that this life is not our real life. The enormity of whatever we are going through here and now will pale in comparison when we finally understand the fact that our lives are eternal and we really haven’t even started living yet.

I also thought a lot about Mary’s assumption and the possibility that she never physically died. I had never considered before that just as God did not allow Enoch to taste death, He may have spared Mary from that fate as well. Definitely something I want to do more research on!

Challenges!

Praying the Rosary wasn’t the first time that I came into contact with the idea of asking saints (or Mary) to pray for us, and I do understand and even agree with the reasoning behind prayer to saints. But it is such a challenge for me, as someone who did not grow up with this practice, to fully accept it and want to apply it to my life! Since I am not planning (in the predictable future) to become Catholic or Orthodox, I guess it doesn’t matter. On the other hand, if it’s true that I can have access to the saints and to the Mother of God to help spur me on in my relationship with Christ, why wouldn’t I want that? I feel like I need all the help I can get. Praying the Rosary kind of made me jealous for this extra “perk” of being connected to the entire body of Christ, (physically) alive or dead. I guess I’ll have to keep chewing on this one for a bit…

I hope this series hasn’t been in any way offensive to anyone who is a practicing Catholic. I also hope that this series sheds a tiny bit of light on the practice of the Rosary to non-Catholic Christians. And of course, I hope you didn’t get too bored with my ramblings and enjoyed reading it!

Let me know if you plan to blog about a religious adventure, I’d definitely be interested in following along!

Christianity, Religion

Adventures In Rosaries // Hail, Holy Queen

As I came to the end of the Rosary, I found that I had recited five decades of the Hail Mary (also called a chaplet), with the Lord’s Prayer, the Glory Be, and the Fatima Prayer interspersed throughout. At the end of the chaplet, the final prayer is a prayer called the “Hail, Holy Queen.” As with my first time praying the Hail Mary, I felt that I couldn’t genuinely say this prayer. Some of the language used is more affectionate toward Mary than I actually feel at this time. I am just not used to Mary being part of my spiritual life, other than looking toward her example as a role model for obedience to God. Still, as with the Hail Mary, I wanted to give all the prayers of the Rosary a fair and unbiased chance. So I read over the “Hail Holy Queen” a few times, and tried to put myself in the position of someone who had grown up with this prayer.

“Hail Holy Queen, mother of mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope.”

As we have already discussed, the word “Hail” is simply a greeting and as Revelation 12 suggests, Mary is crowned in heaven. Mary is the mother of Jesus – therefore she is the mother of mercy. She is also the mother of our life, the mother of our sweetness, and the mother of our hope – all of which are found in Christ.

“To Thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To Thee do we send up our sighs mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.”

I have already discussed the idea that the (physically) dead in Christ may have the ability to pray for those of us who are still (physically) alive in Christ. Therefore, sending up our “sighs mourning and weeping” to Mary does not seem odd when in the context of the idea that Mary and all the saints are still very much alive and can interact with us as we are all part of the living body of Christ. Furthermore, the possibility of Mary’s assumption into heaven means that she may never have actually physically died – so not only is she alive in Christ and potentially able to hear our prayers and pray for us – this means that she is also still physically alive and so prayers to Mary are not being directed to someone who is physically dead.

The mention of being “poor banished children of Eve,” kind of compares Mary to Eve as Jesus is compared to Adam in the Bible. Jesus is the “new Adam,” the obedient man. While Mary is the “new Eve,” the obedient woman. The most important part, though, is that this portion of the prayer requests that Mary reveal to us her son. This aligns itself with 1 John 4:2, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.” Regardless of whether one feels that it is right to pray to Mary – it can’t be denied that the Catholic position definitively confirms Christ’s virgin birth, sinless life, death, and resurrection.

Although this prayer is entitled the ‘Hail Holy Queen,’ the aforementioned is really the only part of the prayer that is addressed to Mary. The rest is directed to God, asking for the ability to imitate the virtues of what the glorious mysteries teach, and to obtain, through Christ, what is promised within the glorious mysteries. Finally, the one praying asks God to be an ever-present help, to grant rest to the souls of the faithful departed, and to not revoke His blessing on us. The Rosary is then concluded by making the sign of the cross.

Dissecting the Rosary has given me a lot to think about, and has challenged some of my current views on Christianity and the Bible. I enjoy being challenged in this way and I am so glad that I have had this opportunity to investigate the Rosary and learn more about what it means and why it is recited. I want to thank my Catholic friends for the articles and resources they’ve sent and the helpful explanations both in the comments and through private messages! And of course, thank you for graciously letting me stumble through your faith for the past couple of weeks!

In the next (and final) Adventures In Rosaries – a brief summary of things I’ve learned, re-considered, or have been challenged to think more about!

Christianity, Religion

Adventures in Rosaries // The Glorious Mysteries, 2.0

The last two Glorious Mysteries of the day were based on Mary’s assumption into heaven and her coronation as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. Because I was raised in a Protestant background, I have always taken it for granted that Mary is, of course, with God and with her son in heaven. That was never anything that needed to be said or thought about in my upbringing. It was just a given. But maybe thinking about it is important. I’m not sure that I am ready to ascribe to Mary all of the things that the Catholic church ascribes to her at this point, but I do think that Mary is to have a place of honor in our hearts on some level. She is an example of the kind of unfaltering obedience to God that we should all strive for. She is the example of the kind of unwavering trust in God that we should all strive for. The Bible declares her to be “blessed among women,” and that’s not just because she bore the son of God – but because of her character that inspired God to choose her to bear the Messiah in the first place.

Another interesting thing to note is that an ‘assumption into heaven,’ at least for me, implies that a person never died. The Bible does not describe any dramatic or miraculous assumption of Mary, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find that an assumption did, indeed, take place. It is, after all, scriptural that those who lead lives of superior obedience to God do not ever physically die. Enoch, for example, never saw death but was instead “taken up” to God (see Genesis 5:24 and Hebrews 11:5). If Enoch could live in such a way that God did not let him see physical death, then why not the mother of Jesus Christ?

The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth was an event that I had never heard of, and I wondered why the Catholic Church believes this about Mary. I did a little (very light) research and found a few reasons as to why Mary is believed to be the Queen of Heaven and Earth.

The first is based on the belief that the events and governance of old testament stories and kingdoms pre-figure the unseen, heavenly kingdom. Many protestant groups (and other non-Catholic, non-Protestant Christians) share this belief. In the old testament, the mother of a king was always given the title equivalent to a Queen Mother (a Gebirah or Great Lady). The title was not just one of respect, but one of authority. According to the article I read, this pattern can be seen from Bathsheba (King Solomon’s mother) to Nehushta (King Joachim’s mother).

The second is based on the belief that Mary is simply the first to achieve her “crown of righteousness,” which all who die in Christ are promised. And finally, it is believed that Mary is the woman in Revelations 12:1-6, crowned with a crown of 12 stars. Although I would agree that Revelations 12:1-6 refers to Mary, that particular passage seems to have taken place after she was crowned and does not describe an actual coronation. Of course, one could argue that the fact that she was crowned at all means a coronation must have taken place at some point.

At the end of each mystery, the one praying is to recite the “Glory Be” and something called the “Fatima Prayer.” The Fatima Prayer simply asks Jesus to forgive us our sins and save us from the fire of hell – especially those of us who are “in most need of [His] mercy.” I tend to go back and forth about whether or not I believe in the existence of hell (in the form of what I have been raised to believe, at least). But I do believe that God punishes sin, that Jesus is essential to our being freed from that sin, and that we are all in need of his mercy. I love this prayer because it reflects the love that we are to have for one another – for our enemies. If hell does exist, I don’t want anyone to end up there. It is important that those of us who are in Christ continue to pray for the world that they will be forgiven and rescued and that God will, through His son, show his mercy to the world. If anyone wants to learn true forgiveness, I would suggest that they pray this prayer for those people that he or she hates the most.

The next and final entry on this series will be about the Hail Holy Queen and the Magnificat! Until then, what are your thoughts on those Bible characters who never tasted death? What are your thoughts on Mary’s position as the Queen of Heaven and Earth? I’d love it if you shared!

Christianity, Religion

Adventures in Rosaries // The Glorious Mysteries, 1.0

One thing that I never knew about the Rosary is that there are moments of pause from the recitation of different prayers, where the one praying is to contemplate specific events that took place in the lives of Jesus and Mary. These stories of contemplation are called “Mysteries” and each day – at least on my app – has a different set of Mysteries attached to it. There are the Glorious Mysteries (Sunday and Wednesday), the Joyful Mysteries (Monday and Saturday), the Luminous Mysteries (Thursday), and the Sorrowful Mysteries (Tuesday and Friday). I prayed my first Rosary on a Wednesday, and so my story continues with the Glorious Mysteries that were assigned for that day.

The Glorious Mysteries are: The Resurrection of Jesus, the Ascension of Jesus, the Descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, and the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth. I’ll deal with the first three in this post, and the second two in my next entry.

Whenever I think about the resurrection of Jesus, I always think about when He told Martha “I am the resurrection and the life…” (John 11:25) I think about how the Bible calls Jesus the “first fruits” of those who are to be resurrected, I think about how Jesus defeated death and how we can live eternally because of his victory over death. Sometimes these concepts seem so distant, vague, and far off. It’s easy to forget the fact that this is not our real life. My entire adult life, so far, has felt like one failure after another. I am a person with a lot of ambition but nothing to show for it. I am intelligent, I am capable, I am hard-working – and I am so behind in life. I have always held high expectations for myself, and I have met less than 5% of those expectations. I am constantly trying to find ways to work harder or work smarter or get ahead here or get ahead there. I’m always scheming up some plan that will help me achieve some seemingly unreachable goal. I get bogged down thinking about it, honestly.

But as I contemplated the resurrection of Christ and the eternal impact that His resurrection has on my life – I couldn’t help but to feel stupid for stressing out so much about what is ultimately such a small portion of the eternity that I will live. That’s not to say that I won’t keep setting and working toward goals, but it certainly puts those things into perspective.

The next Glorious Mystery was related to the Ascension of Christ. “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2).” I can’t even begin to imagine what it must have been like for Jesus. All of His suffering, all of His weeping, all of his pleadings of ‘…let this cup pass from me…’  It must all have felt so worth it as he ascended back to His father, back to His home. He had faithfully completed the task that He had been sent here to complete. I can only hope and pray that I will have a moment like that, in which I will look back on all of the goings-on of my life and be able to feel a sense of completion. And I know that if I obey God, as Christ did, that moment will come for me, too.

I’ve always thought that if I could go back in time, I would want to be a witness to the Day of Pentecost. I’m not sure where the Catholic faith stands on speaking in tongues or with other “gifts” of the Holy Spirit – perhaps a Catholic reader can speak to that in the comments? But the Holy Spirit isn’t just about the supernatural ability to suddenly speak in different languages, heal others, or make prophesies. The Holy Spirit is about love, peace, joy, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). And I believe that part of the point of contemplating these ‘Mysteries’ is so that we can reflect on our lives and work toward living out those attributes.

What are your thoughts on the Glorious Mysteries? How has this portion of the Rosary encouraged or convicted you?

Christianity, Religion

Adventures in Rosaries // Hail Mary, 2.0

“Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.”

A few days before I decided to learn to pray the Rosary, I found out that a long-time family friend (really, more like a family member) had recently opened up about her battle with what had become stage four cancer. She had been feeling sick for awhile, and had ignored it until she couldn’t ignore it anymore. When she found out about her illness, she decided to keep it a secret. Because of this, I was in complete shock when I learned of her illness and of how serious it was. Let’s give her a name. We’ll call her Alice.

Alice and I have never talked about it, but we have something in common. She struggled for years with infertility before finally achieving pregnancy and delivering her two children. When a family member of mine discovered that I have been dealing with infertility for the past four years, she suggested that I reach out to Alice. Of course, this suggestion was made before any of us knew about Alice’s struggle with cancer. I thought about reaching out to Alice, but I decided against it. I am an emotionally reserved person and I have trouble reaching out about things like this. Once I found out about Alice’s cancer, the door on any slim chance that I might reach out to her was certainly closed. She had enough to deal with, I wouldn’t dare complain to her about my problems. Besides, I would not have had any time to reach out to her before cancer would take her life.

Alice died the day after I prayed the Rosary for the first time. I was on vacation, visiting friends, when she died and I was already struggling through an extremely difficult two week wait. Her death hit unexpectedly hard. We had barely gotten time to get used to the idea that she was sick, let alone that she had died. Mostly, I felt for her husband. I don’t think I have ever seen a couple more in love than the two of them. Perhaps the worst part for me, was that I started my menstrual cycle on the day of her funeral. During her funeral, people talked about her life and celebrated her positive and encouraging personality, and I couldn’t help but wonder how she had gotten through a decade of infertility, and what she would have said to me if I had been bold enough to reach out to her while she was still among us.

I felt guilty for mentally making Alice’s funeral all about my infertility, yet I couldn’t help but to regret not having reached out to her while she was alive and well. If she had known that I am going through this, she would have certainly wanted to help mentor me through it. But there I stood, staring at her casket, never to be a recipient of the wisdom she’d gained from her experiences.

As I stood in the shower that evening, I felt frustrated about her death, frustrated about my unsuccessful cycle, and frustrated about my missed opportunity to gain wisdom from someone who has been here. I randomly blurted out, “Alice, how did you do this!? Pray for me, please.” 

I have to admit, I was taken aback by my words and by how naturally they had slipped out. ‘What are you talking about, Elisabeth?’ I thought. ‘She can’t hear you.’ But suddenly the words from the Hail Mary I’d recited earlier that week crossed my mind, “Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” 

Because I had known Alice in my lifetime, I was able to speak to her with ease. There was a familiarity I felt for Alice that was impossible for me to feel for Mary during my first time praying a Rosary. But both Alice and Mary are alive in Christ. Aside from the status of being Jesus’ mother, how was the concept of talking to Mary any different from the concept of talking to Alice? Or, aside from having been canonized, how would the concept of talking to Alice have been different from the concept of talking to any other (physically) dead saint? There isn’t any difference at all.

This doesn’t mean that I’m going to start making a habit of praying to saints – or even to Mary – at anytime in the near or predictable future. But I think, as a direct result of my curiosity about praying the Rosary, I was able to have an experience that shed a more personal light on the idea of having a patron saint and on the idea of praying to saints. I can look at this portion of the Hail Mary with a bit more understanding.

Stay tuned to hear more about my experiences with the five mysteries of that day, and about my first time encountering the Fatima Prayer!