Today’s Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary takes me to a day long ago just before our class was to let out for Easter break. I knew something special was in store when Sister Jacinta asked us to clear our desks of everything but crayons. Excitedly, I lifted my creaky desktop and stuffed my things inside. Holding the heavy lid open with my elbow, I hunted around for my 8-pack of Crayolas then ran my sleeve over the desktop to clear away all trace of pink eraser dust.
“It’s a contest!” Sister announced in her melodious voice – I was fascinated by her. She was the nicest and prettiest nun in school, and I felt lucky to have her as my second grade teacher. She was soft-hearted and regarded everyone with affection while most of the other nuns were serious – yet, even the most austere of them would speak of Sister Jacinta’s constant inner joy.
When the handouts finally reached the back row where I was seated, I took mine and looked it over, enchanted. It was a drawing of a mother duck boasting an oversized Easter bonnet with her ducklings behind her, running after the Spring flowers that were spilling out of her basket. Sister announced that a special prize would be given for the most beautifully colored picture.
Focused on winning, I colored with passion, doing my utmost to bring the drawing to electrifying life with 8 crayons. At last, we held up our pictures for Sister to see, but I knew my efforts were lost behind the rows of upstretched arms in front of me. Still, I hoisted my masterpiece as high as I could, hopeful she’d catch a glimpse of it.
“ELIZABETH,” she announced my name. “Come up, please.” My heart jumped, then my feet after it as I marched to the front clutching my work of art, thrilled at having been selected. With a smile, Sister reached into her drawer and pulled out a white plastic lace case and gave it to me. I unsnapped it and gasped at the “big girl” rosary inside. I took it out of the case and felt its weight as the pink glass beads and silver crucifix shone under the fluorescent lights. Even then, my young mind knew it had been impossible for her to see and critique my work from such a distance. But with God all things are possible, so perhaps, I considered, this was Our Lady’s doing.
Now I’m certain it was, and my beautiful rosary is still with me today, bringing me special graces and protection as our Lady promised. It’s brought me peace, strengthened my faith, hope and my love for God and others, and that’s why today’s Memorial evokes for me one of the most treasured memories of my life.