“Hey Patti, I’m getting serious about praying for my family. I’m going to do a 40-day fast and daily rosary, do you want to join me?” My friend Shellie Rusch asked me this recently. She has six kids and we have a spiritual sisterhood in many ways.
As a wife and mother of ten, I had eleven reasons to say yes. Well, twelve including me, and I certainly need all the help I can get. It was a comforting idea, to get serious about the spiritual well being of our families and to pool our prayers and fasting together. It wasn’t as if we had not always prayed for our families, but this would be different—something more; something big. We had one intention: for the increased holiness of our families. In the end, holiness is all that matters so it was all we would ask for.
“What do you think of also doing an ongoing novena to various saints?” I suggested. “It only takes a minute or two.”
“Great idea,” Shellie agreed.
And since we went to daily Mass, we would offer up our Holy Communions. We prepared to start on a Monday, September 23.
As Shellie and I anticipated ramping things up spiritually, it occurred to us that others might like to join us. I called a friend. “Count me in,” she said without hesitation.
When another friend heard about it and expressed enthusiasm, I asked if that meant she wanted to sign up. “I’d be a fool not to,” she laughed. “There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain.” With so many joining, we needed to name our group. We chose “Mary’s Moms,” after the Blessed Virgin Mary, the most perfect mother. She would take our intention to her son, Jesus.
Shellie and I trusted the promises Jesus made in Scripture. “Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matt 18: 19-20). It was also our understanding that when praying as part of a group, the graces are multiplied and not watered down. So each one shares fully in the spiritual fruits.
We wanted to be sure we had our theology correct. I asked my pastor, Msgr. Thomas Richter. He confirmed that we had it right. Each mom–therefore each family–shares fully in all the graces through our spiritual efforts; each receives all.
I asked Msgr. Richter about moms who had made the Total Consecration of Jesus through Mary. Had we not, through that consecration, already agreed to hand everything over to Mary’s care? Did participation in Mary’s Moms in any way contradict that prior agreement?
“There is no conflict,” he said. “When we hand everything over to Mary, we don’t ignore our own good desires.” Msgr. Richter explained that we were following the promptings of the Holy Spirit. “It is not for your own ego or will but you are offering it out of an awareness that this is what the Lord wants and you present it to Mary to bring it to the Lord.” He explained further that if we have done the Total Consecration, what we handed over to Mary was our hearts.
In less than 3 weeks, we had 45 moms. Since prayers said together are multiplied, that means we each get the benefit of everyone else’s rosaries, Holy Communions, prayers and spiritual sacrifices. 45 x 45 is 2,025.
Our original plan of 40 days has changed. How could we end such a wonderful, grace-filled union of sisters in Christ? So many have reported a powerful feeling of Divine support through Mary’s Moms. We have received emails with some of the following messages: “Thank you so much, I needed this….This has come at just the right moment…Our family has experienced a breakthrough; I believe it has come through Mary’s Moms…” When the first 40 days have ended, we will continue with ongoing novenas and Masses, rosaries, and Holy Communions. People who cannot make it to daily Mass can offer up a spiritual Communion.
During the months of May and October—months dedicated to Mary—we will encourage a forty-day fast, in any way one feels called. There is the traditional Catholic fast: one big meal, two small meals and no snacking. But abstaining from any sort of enjoyment is a form of fasting.
We don’t want to take the place of any devotions people are already doing. Neither do we want to interfere with other important intentions that should be prayed for daily, such as peace in the world, an end to abortion, an increase in vocations, the poor and sick, the souls in purgatory, etc. This began as a desire to ramp things up for our families, but we do not want anyone going beyond what they feel capable of doing or taking energy away from caring for their families or others.
Our families are all different but we share the understanding that the greatest gift we can give them is a nudge in the direction of Jesus. And we trust that the Blessed Mother is our greatest ally in this endeavor.
* If you are looking for a Man’s group devoted to the rosary, check out Real Men Pray the Rosary.