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What's Your Favorite Mystery -- Part 2

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Maureen Crowley

Last week, I told readers why the Joyful Mysteries of the rosary are my favorites. I described why I related to each decade but left one out -- the Visitation. The details of the story still bring me to tears.

While living in Pennsylvania, I gathered weekly with a group of women to pray the rosary. It was a great support system as we raised our children. When my mother passed away right before Christmas one year, we packed up the kids' gifts and headed to Massachusetts for the funeral and planned to spend the holiday here. When my father learned that a blizzard was about to hit, he became anxious -- we had to go home early to escape it.

Before setting out, I called our neighbor to say we were coming back, due to arrive about 9 p.m. Christmas Eve. Throughout the drive our youngest was beside himself. We had no tree, no lights on the house … how would Santa find us?

As we turned into our neighborhood, we couldn't believe our eyes. Our house was lit up like, well, like a Christmas tree! My son shouted, "Mom! Santa will find us!" And I cried.

I knew I had a Visitation.

When Mary found herself young and pregnant (in a small village where people probably gossiped about who the father was) she dropped her own troubles and went to help her cousin whom she heard was having a difficult pregnancy. When the call went out that we were coming home to an empty house on Christmas Eve, my rosary group dropped everything -- their own wrapping, cooking, and busyness -- and enlisted husbands to find a tree and hang lights on our house. Our refrigerator was filled, and the tree was decorated.

My little boy "leaped for joy" that Santa was coming, but I knew the Blessed Mother had come for a Visitation using my precious prayer group as stand-ins. I did indeed ask, "Who am I that the Mother of My Lord should come to me?"

In this mission ministry, I love to talk about the rosary. I wear my World Mission Rosary as a sign of my faith, ready and eager to tell anyone who asks what it means and why I wear it. I always have a few extras in my bag for fidgety children in church, curious adults, or someone who comments on the colors.

As I pray my World Mission Rosary, asking for God's blessings on missionaries and the people they serve around the world, I can't help but have a small, secret smile at the Joyful Mysteries.

What's your favorite mystery?

- Maureen Crowley Heil is Director of Programs and Development for the Pontifical Mission Societies, Boston.

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