I was raised Catholic and was probably one of the oldest altar boys at our church. But it was kind of cool because of my seniority my brother Jeff and I got to serve most of the weddings that were held there. And the altar boys were usually given “tips” for serving so we would ride our bikes home each Saturday afternoon with a pockets full of cash. Cha-ching!
While today I guess I am a “Fallen-away Catholic” (more on that in a later post), I still feel a fairly strong personal connection with my idea of God and find myself praying most nights. This was especially true in the hospital during all of those long, quiet nights.
When you have to spend months at a time in a hospital bed messed up on a bunch of different drugs, you experience A LOT of long, quiet nights. Well, “quiet” if you consider nurses coming in every three hours to check your vital signs to be “quiet.” Otherwise it is just you and your thoughts.
The funny thing was, even while I was fighting the two cancers I never felt compelled to pray for my healing. For that I figured what was going to be was what was going to be. Instead I always found myself asking for strength to be a better person and to set a good example for my kids.
And I got into the habit of saying the Rosary each night. For those not familiar with the Rosary, it involves praying for five intentions and a lot of Hail Mary’s. My sister Santina wisely pointed out to me that the repeated Hail Mary’s are basically a form of meditation. And she’s right. I began to realize that when I fell into my rhythm, the cadence of the prayer matched the timing of my heart beat. Pretty neat. Except for the “now and at the hour of our death” part at the end!
In addition to praying for my family, both immediate and extended, I found myself usually asking for blessings and protection for all the hundreds of people literally around the world who were keeping me in their prayers. I also was never able to shake the thought about people who were out there dying all alone and afraid, and I would pray for their comfort and peace. Same thing with families who were dealing with the loss of a loved one and their need for comforting.
And I’d pray for Pope Francis, although I usually found myself asking that he accept the need for women to be treated equal to men in every way and to actively promote that to the world. And of course for the freaking stupid Church to accept their responsibility for all of the child abuse and make full amends. And you wonder why I am a “Fallen-away Catholic?” Sheesh!
So there you go. That usually managed to keep my quiet nights filled. And it is now a good habit that I still follow most nights.