Wednesday, May 23, 2012
I met a man at the crosswalk. It was the crosswalk of a busy downtown street but it could easily have been a crosswalk of life. He asked for help. I knew he wanted money of which I had none. I held out my hands to show him that all I carried was my office key and a rosary. The rosary was a simple bracelet made of wooden beads held together by a strand of elastic. Day after day I worked those wooden beads through my fingers, slowly wearing them down to the elastic thread. I told him that he could have my rosary, if that would be a help to him.
He asked, "What's a rosary?"
And I could have entered into a lengthy discussion right then and there, trying to explain the ancient Catholic devotion to the Blessed Mother. I could have told him about how the angel came to her telling her that she was the highly favored one and her humble response of acceptance. I could have shared the great sorrow of her life, how she stood beneath the cross and watched her son, her own flesh and blood, God's own flesh and blood, suffer and die, and how before his last breath escaped from his lungs he gave her to all of us to be our own mother. I could have told him about the glory of that Easter Sunday, the Resurrection of our Savior and the promise of our own eternal joy. I could have stood there and taught him the words of the prayers that echo through my heart for hours after I pray them. I could have told him about the great joy and happiness that my Catholic faith brings to me and how praying the rosary is part of that joy and happiness.
But the light was about to change and I was late for work so I simply said, "It's to pray with."
He reached out his hand to accept my offering and I placed my rosary within his upturned palm and said "God bless you!"
And as I walked away I prayed for his well-being, both physically and spiritually. I prayed that he might actually cling to the rosary and formulate his own prayers from his heart. I asked the Blessed Mother to hold his hand and comfort him in his need so that he would no longer suffer the effects of poverty of body or poverty of soul.