May 31, 2019

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

Mary’s prayers for families help them through life’s ups and downs

Sean GallagherWorshipping with my wife Cindy at any Mass is special for me. The faith we share in God serves as the foundation for our marriage and gives it so much meaning. So to enter into the highest expression of that faith side by side with her remains fresh for me, now almost 18 years after we exchanged our marriage vows.

But Mass during the Easter season is a bit sweeter for us, at least at our home parish of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary in Indianapolis.

After each Mass during the Easter season there is concluded, the worshippers chant together the “Regina Coeli.” It is a Marian antiphon that Catholics have traditionally prayed during the Easter season since at least the 12th century.

The text of the antiphon is a prayer and reads thus in translation: “O Queen of heaven, rejoice! Alleluia! For he whom you merited to bear, alleluia, is resurrected, just as he said! Alleluia! Pray for us to God, alleluia!”

This short antiphon (which takes less than a minute to pray) has special meaning for Cindy and I because we chanted it together at our wedding Mass on June 9, 2001, at St. Bartholomew Church in Columbus.

It’s common in Catholic weddings for there to be a prayerful musical offering to Mary after Communion, often sung by a soloist while the bride and groom place flowers by a statue of the Blessed Mother.

Cindy and I wanted to make the offering wholly our own, so I taught her the “Regina Coeli,” which has a simple chant melody. We chanted it together after Communion while standing before a statue of the Holy Family at St. Bartholomew.

So each time we sing it at Holy Rosary, it’s like we’re back at St. Bartholomew on our wedding day. At the same time, at least on Sundays, we’re blessed to see the fruits of Mary’s prayers for us over the past 18 years in four of our boys serving around the altar and our youngest son, Colin, next to us, waiting to grow old enough to be able to join his brothers in the sanctuary.

Although the life Cindy and I have shared since June 9, 2001, has been marked by many blessings, it has had more than its fair share of crosses, too, which is true of the life of any marriage or family.

Our faith has done so much to help us bear those crosses, as difficult as some of them have been and continue to be. Asking Mary on our wedding day to pray for us to God, and our renewing that prayer each time we chant the “Regina Coeli,” has surely been a great channel of divine grace for us and our family.

The “Regina Coeli” is also a prayer of great joy in the resurrection of Christ. Perhaps then Mary’s prayers for us have helped us over the years experience a bit more keenly the joys of family life.

It’s always good for families to pray for each other. With all the challenges facing families in society today, we need to support each other in so many ways. We as Catholics should always make prayer the basis of such mutual assistance.

But this prayer can only be strengthened when we reach out to include our mother Mary in them, she who is the spiritual mother of us all.

With her prayers to support us, the families that make up the Church can transform this world more and more into the kingdom of God among us. †

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