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A Stubborn Relative

StubbornAbout 20 years ago, when one of my relatives was going through some tough times, I tried to get him to commit to praying a rosary every day.  (For the purpose of this article, I’m going to call him “Jim.”)  Over a period of six months, Jim and I met on three separate occasions.

Although there were some legal issues concerning his situation, his primary problem was that his wife had cheated on him and he no longer wanted to have anything to do with her.  His situation was further complicated by the fact that he and his wife had young children at home who were being affected by their situation.

Jim and I have always shared similar traits.  He listens well and is not afraid of telling others what’s on his mind.  He’s a natural leader and often interprets well-meaning advice as criticism. He’s never been concerned about fitting in with others.  Like me, he often speaks before he thinks, which sometimes gets him into trouble.

Although Jim and I have a mutual respect for each other, it seems as though every time we get together, we clash.  It’s not unusual for us to argue for an hour and then agree that we should get together more often.  We’re like brothers.  I think one obstacle that gets in our way is our competitive nature, which leads to our refusal to acknowledge that we may be wrong about a topic.

Jim grew up in a Catholic home and attended a Catholic grade school, high school, and college.  From my perspective, it should have been easy for me to persuade him that he would greatly benefit from turning to the mother of God for guidance and assistance.

When I pushed him into a serious discussion about developing a greater devotion to the Blessed Mother, Jim refused to acknowledge that it would do him any good.  I quickly realized that I wasn’t going to get him to agree to pray a daily rosary, so I tried to convince him to commit to saying a simple “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” every day.  He wouldn’t budge.  The more I tried to persuade him, the more he resisted.

I later came to the conclusion that there were several factors in Jim’s past that made him predisposed to resist my efforts to convince him to turn to the Blessed Mother for guidance and assistance.  While he was growing up, Jim had an adversarial relationship with his mother.  She was the disciplinarian in the home and was more aggressive toward her children than other traditional mothers.  Jim’s dad was the exact opposite of his mom.  His dad was patient, kind, and soft-spoken, and he allowed his children to do whatever they wanted.  Neither Jim’s dad nor his mom had a devotion to the Blessed Mother.

The home I grew up in was different than the home Jim grew up in.  My mom had a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother and insisted that our family pray a rosary together every day.  She also was a founder of the Queen of Peace Crusade, a nonprofit organization that promoted the Fatima message and devotion to the mother of God.  My dad supported my mom’s organization and joined us every day for the family rosary.

My grandmother, Cecilia LaHood, who I saw on a regular basis, also had a strong devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  She frequently encouraged me to turn to our Lady for assistance and guidance.

While I was growing up, I spent a lot of time with my grandfather, Tom Williams.  He lived next door to us, and every time I went somewhere with him in his car, he prayed his rosary while he was driving.

Another thing that differentiated me from Jim was the nature of my relationship with my mother.  Although I frequently challenged her while I was growing up, I also frequently turned to her for guidance and assistance.  I learned early in life that there were times when I had a better chance of getting what I wanted from my dad if I used my mom as an intermediary.

Later in life, I decided that I could use the same method of getting what I wanted from my Father in heaven by turning to the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the spouse of the Holy Spirit, the mother of God the Son, and the daughter of God the Father.

Based on what I’ve told you so far, who do you think would be more open to praying a daily rosary, me or Jim?

Over time, I have learned that before I attempt to convince someone about the importance of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, I need to first ask the following questions: “Was your mom devoted to the Blessed Mother?  Did she pray a rosary every day while you were growing up?  Were you close to your mom while you were growing up?  Did you have a loving relationship with her?”

If I get a “yes” answer to all these questions, there’s a good chance I can persuade the person to start praying a daily rosary.  If most of the answers are “no,” I’ll be satisfied if I get the person to agree to pray one “Hail Mary” every day.

I was not able to convince Jim to pray a daily rosary.  I wasn’t even able to get him to agree to pray a daily “Hail Mary.”  He ended up divorcing his wife.  About five years later, he married another woman who also eventually cheated on him.  That marriage ended after an ugly divorce in which she unfairly obtained a very favorable property settlement for herself.  Jim complained bitterly about his second wife and what he had to go through with her.  He refused to listen to my continued attempts to convince him to develop a greater devotion to the mother of God.

If you have a devotion to the Blessed Mother, you know from personal experience how powerful her influence is with Almighty God.  You also know that there were one or more people in your life who influenced you to develop that devotion.  You have an obligation to spread that devotion to other members of our faith, especially children whom you are in a position to influence.

There is a perfect spiritual mother in heaven who is eager to assist us with our problems.  All we have to do is develop a relationship with her by communicating with her every day in prayer.  I wish that every Catholic knew how much influence she has with the triune God.

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One Response to “A Stubborn Relative”

  1. Sister Roberta Houlihan, CSJ Says:

    Dear Harry and Georgette –
    Some persons just can’t HEED what they hear, and know in their hearts what they SHOULD do! Jim seems to be one of them! God is pleased with your persevering efforts!!
    Here, we offer a “group” rosary twice a week in the activity room, well attended by residents. When I was moved to Room 4128, Sr. Laurent [room across from mine]and I started to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Rosary [which I have on tape] each morning at 6:50 am – good timing just before breakfast. God invited Laurent to Heaven… her place is still with me each morning; some days I pray it just with her, and others, I have companions, or a companion. The hall way is often “noisy” – meds being given, etc. As one of our Sisters often says – “We do the best we can!” PS – Laurent’s wheel chair no longer shows, because God gave her wings; she’s with us daily!! Love, Sister Roberta

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