We had a very special visitor in our home for one week in October. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the appearance of Our Lady of Fatima, our parish is passing around a beautiful statue of Our Lady to different homes for one week out of the year. When I heard about this, I quickly signed up for the first week so we wouldn't forget that she was coming! We cleared a space for her in the center of our house and tried to create an atmosphere of prayer where any one of us could come sit, reflect, and pray.
I tried to relate the story of Our Lady of Fatima to my children, careful to tell it in a way that would not frighten them as it did me when I was their age. You see, I was mortified to learn that two of the children, Francisco and Jacinta, died shortly after the apparition during the great influenza epidemic and their deaths were predicted by Our Lady. Although they died while joyfully looking forward to living in heaven with Jesus and Our Lady, I couldn't help but feel that their early deaths were the result of seeing Our Lady. That was the reason why, during my nightly prayers as a child, I would fervently ask God: "Please, oh please, do not let your mother ever appear to me!"
The kids were very excited to have Our Lady arrive. When we picked her up after Mass on Sunday, we didn't realize how large the statue was! The kids were in awe! They were especially thrilled that she came with a tiny crown to place upon her head. Matthew was especially in love with the image of Our Lady as the rosary has recently become one of his favorite prayers and I would often find him after school sitting quietly with a set of rosary beads in front of the statue. In fact, when it was time for us to package the statue back up and send it along to the next home, he cried! So sweet.
I can't really say that the same intensity of emotion and devotion was felt by our two little girls. Like typical little children, Lucy and Emma are very distracted during family prayer, often playing about, making noise, or just plain adamantly refusing to participate in any way. Emma especially bores quickly during our family rosary partially because she is too young to really learn all the words and also because she has the attention span of a distracted gnat.
Enter these beautiful, handmade rosary roses made by Annery's Handmade. Annie asked me months ago to review these exquisite, yarn-woven roses for her and I am sorry that I am only now writing this review because my girls have loved holding them, squeezing them, and focusing on honoring Mary with them during our prayer time. Each set of rosary roses comes with 10 roses in one color representing each of the 10 Hail Marys, and a single rose in a different color representing the Our Father. This way, the roses may be used to teach young children how to say the rosary. As we make our way through each decade of the rosary, I hand the roses to Emma and Lucy so that they have something tangible to hold and squeeze during the decade. At the conclusion of the decade, I collect all of them and we begin again and repeat this process until we have worked our way through the entire rosary. It's a great way to keep little hands occupied during prayer time while simultaneously teaching and guiding them through the steps of praying the Rosary.