Monday, January 5, 2009

Strong, secure and sacred

Strong, secure, and sacred! --the Rosary beads. When you hold them in your hand, you are in touch,-- in touch, as the Credo at Mass has it, -- with all that is, -- seen and unseen. Who wants to be out of touch? Out of touch with reality; out of touch with other people and of things that matter. Touching the physical chain of beads we somehow make contact with the invisible and eternal. Beads are part of the religious fabric of the wide world. From East to West, religions of every shade seem to make use of them. And not just religious folk. It is simply a human thing.

Seated next to me on a plane as we were taking off, was a smart Japanese business man who was fingering a small string of beads. “Makes me feel safe,” he remarked. Personlly I never venture out of the house until my rosary rests snugly in my pocket.

I’m reminded of a story Rosemary Ward tells, of when she was a nursing attendant during the London air-raids: A young man was carried in to the hospital with terrible wounds and laid on the ground before her . She felt helpless and took out her beads as they waited for the doctor. The wounded man stretched out his hand, and whispered, “Let me touch them. They’re something to hold on to.”

We all need something to hold on to, to still the quivering body and to slow down the racing mind and to calm the inner storm. The blessed beads of the Rosary with all its hallowed memories can serve that purpose in a most admirable manner. In my ministry I’ve often found it was enough to put the Rosary beads into the hand of the sick or troubled one. Then I speak the words of William Blake:

I hold infinity in the palm of my hand and touch eternity in an hour.

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