Friday, February 1, 2013

Activity #8: Teaching Q the Hail Mary

As far as I can remember, my parents did not teach me to pray nor did they teach me any bedtime prayers. I know. Scandalous. If sitcoms have taught me anything, parents tuck their children in every night and recite prayers with them. Adorbs. I don't know if they did this with my older brothers, but they certainly didn't do it with us younger ones. They did, however, send us to 13+ years of Catholic school and bring us to weekly Mass, so they definitely presented us with the basics.

[Complete aside because now I am thinking about bedtime:  Every night around bedtime, my parents would say, "It's bedtime," and we would trot off to our respective rooms to do whatever we did until our parents told us to turn off our light or we did it ourselves. I wanted to be tucked in. Once, we went on a vacation and my parents went to dinner and hired the hotel baby-sitter to watch us (only the 3 youngest were there). Having a sitter was a rare treat as this job was usually left to our older brothers. (Want to know how deprived we were? My parents also didn't check to see if we did homework. I don't think they ever asked what was due and we never had an assigned homework time. I'm sure this is no way contributed to my lack of doing homework in high school. My brother were were left in charge when my parents went on vacation and they made us sit at the kitchen table and do our homework. I have no idea where they picked this up from. Probably television. It was really weird for those few days.) Where was I? Hotel baby-sitter. It was lovely. She was a grandmother and she would tuck us in, kiss us on the head and tell us good night. I allowed myself to be put to bed with my little sister and enjoyed the whole tucking in so much that I hopped out of bed 2-3 more times to have it repeated over the course of the evening. I am sure you are now crying for us. Yes, life was just so hard. Am I being sarcastic enough to indicate that while this story is true, I know we were not deprived?]

I decided to teach Q to pray, even if we have no idea what religion we are practicing. I thought long and hard about what prayer to teach Q and settled on: the Hail Mary.

Why the Hail Mary? Well, it stems from a very formative time in my life: 4th grade. In 4th grade, I wanted to be a nun, until I went to some Easter week vigils with my mom and my legs kept falling asleep. A life of contemplative praryer was not for me. This was also the year I became both an atheist and returned to Catholicism. Both epiphanies were on the bus. I have no idea where they came from, just that each made sense (though I now find the label agnostic to also be comforting). 4th grade was also the year of Sr. Marie, an extremely small, tough, and old nun who thought my name was Eleanore (it isn't).  According to Sr. Marie, when it is unseasonably warm, you should still wear your sweater on the playground because you could catch a chill and, if you are going to say only one prayer, it should be the Hail Mary, because God will not ignore his mother (explanation of Catholic prayers: I'm not praying to Mary as if she will answer my prayers, I'm praying to Mary and asking her to ask Jesus/God the Father/Holy Spirit to answer my prayers). Sound advice. I also force Q to wear a sweater and/or hat when it is unseasonably warm.

At some point (probably in 4th grade when I decided I was a Catholic), I began to say prayers at night. I believe I started with the Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, but, with Sr. Marie's suggestion, moved on to the Hail Mary. I then added an Act of Contrition (asking God to forgive all your sins). Before you knew it, 15 some odd years had passed and I had added Hail Marys and Our Fathers and Glory Bes and Act of Contritions for tons of people (the dearly departed in most cases) and night time prayers were taking forever to get through. If I skipped one I had to start all over again. If I forgot to say them, I woke up in the middle of the night in a panic and immediately did so. I realized that I was sticking more to the letter of the law then the spirit and decided just to embrace or re-embrace the simple Hail Mary. Because God won't ignore his mother. And that's why I am teaching Q this prayer for her bedtime.

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