Mary my Mother
A Thousand Hail Mary’s
The news was bleak in those early weeks 2009. For the previous nine months since the collapse of the stock exchange on St. Patrick’s Day, 2008 the news was perpetually bad. To add to the misery, it rained all that summer and conversations were absorbed with either the collapsing economy, job losses that we had never experienced before, and the banking crisis.
There was the feeling of shock, to begin with, and as our heads reeled from a cascading downward spiral, a new reality had set in. Our country was on the brink of economic devastation, and fear and panic had taken their grip.
Frightened I turned the radio off. I couldn’t take any more of the bad news. Hundreds of job losses were announced every time I tuned in. I was in the final stage of completing a 1 million housing project near Mostar, a scheme of houses for displaced families, and I needed to raise an outstanding amount of €250,000. I was bound to a contract, and eight families were solely dependent on Rebuild for Bosnia to build new homes for them – the promise of a new start in life. The building permits and plots of land that their houses would be built on were in their names. These were desperate people who had been displaced for sixteen-years since the war began in 1992, and there was no consoling them. They saw their chances of ever having a new home and start in life destroyed by the banking and economic collapse in Ireland. On my last trip in November 2008, I had promised that I wouldn’t let them down as tears rolled down their faces. “God is good,” I said “and remember that there’s no economic crisis in heaven. You’ll be sure to find a few redundant saints to work on your behalf. Get busy praying, and I’ll get buy fundraising.”
Having turned the radio off, I felt myself shaking inside. “How am I going to raise a quarter of a million in this doom and gloom?” I asked myself. “No one is going to want to give a cent – their purses now controlled by fear,” I said to the marketing manager. Just in the previous four months, we had seen our donations drop by 40%, and even our Lotto Love subscriptions of €2.00 had taken a big hit. Apathy had set in as people waited for better news. Unfortunately, it only got worse.
I made a decision. “The radio is off, and it’s staying off,” I promise you, Lord. I could feel a dark cloud gathering over my head, and I wasn’t going to fall victim to the spirits of depression, despondency or despair. My experience of God’s goodness had been proven to me many times since I began raising money for the displaced people of Bosnia-Herzegovina as hundreds of thousands had been donated for their cause.
Later that night I was reading the diary of St Faustina, and I came across one of her writings where she described starting a novena to Our Lady nine days before the Feast of the Immaculate Conception in thanksgiving for all that Our Lady had done for her. The novena was one-thousand Hail Mary’s a day.
“All right”, I thought, “if St Faustina can do that, so can I.” I don’t know where my thinking was at comparing myself to the life of a saintly Sr Faustina, but in faith, I started the 1,000 Hail Mary’s there and then.
By the end of the first day, I realised that it was going to take three hours a day to recite the 1,000 prayers. I had to make a plan to get through my daily commitments of work and prayer. Every spare minute of time was needed to say Hail Mary’s in thanksgiving to Our Lady for the beautiful mother she had been to me since I had discovered her motherly love in Medjugorje in 1998 and had come to believe in her promises.
My plan of action was to spend three minutes on calls. I told my friends that I’d talk to them in nine days and to only contact me if they wanted to relieve me of 500 Hail Mary’s! I quickly discovered that I didn’t have time to listen or read anything on the internet, watch the TV, and chat with people or to read papers. I’d stopped buying them also.
The black cloud began to lift as I worked my way around the wooden rosary beads twenty times a day. I prayed as I’d never done in my life. After my nine-day thanksgiving novena, I began another 9 – days asking Our Lady to find the outstanding money to fulfil my promise to the homeless.
My eighteen days of prayer came to a welcome conclusion, and my interest in current affairs never was the same. In fact, I could no longer tolerate people speaking in harsh, angry and loud voices. I never did turn the radio on again and refrained from watching the news as I didn’t want the darkness to permeate my mind and fill my soul with fear. I had hope, and when people talked about the recession, I told them about my novena, and that swiftly ended the gloomy conversation.
I knew the days of receiving cheques for €45,000 like what we had received in the past were very unlikely to happen again, but I thought we’ll get a smaller amount and more of them perhaps. I organised 24- hours of adoration and that same day, I received a donation of €5,000. The money slowed accumulated, and we worked on in faith, hope and trust.
Two-and-a-half years later I paid the final amount and moved the last three families into their houses for Christmas. It was a miracle brought about by the power of prayer and by the following message of Our Lady that I’d read in the spring of 2002.
April 25, 2002. Dear children! Rejoice with me in this time of spring when all nature is awakening and your hearts long for change. Open yourselves, little children, and pray. Do not forget that I am with you, and I desire to take you all to my Son so that He may give you the gift of sincere love towards God and everything that is from Him. Open yourselves to prayer and seek a conversion of your hearts from God; everything else He sees and provides. Thank you for having responded to my call.
Patricia Keane is the author of the critically acclaimed book Journey Of Ten Thousand Smiles and is an inspirational speaker and witness to her inner healing in Medjugorje. She hosts a weekly programme, Health and Faith Matters on Radio Maria and blogs at www.journeyoftenthousandsmiles.org. She submits a monthly article for the Medjugorje Messenger and a bimonthly to Shalom Tidings.
She received two International Awards for her humanitarian work with the ethnically displaced families of Bosnia-Herzegovina through her tireless work the charity Rebuild for Bosnia.