Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

A reflection on the word “WORD”

By Barb Szyszkiewicz

How many of the contributors to this wonderful “Hail Mary one word at a time” project have mentioned a woman’s influence in their own devotion–usually a mother or grandmother? I haven’t counted, but it seems like there have been quite a few. Guess what: there’s one more.

Growing up, I spent a lot of time at my grandmother’s house. I loved to visit her and even remember telling her that when I grew up, I was going to move in! There was no doubt that her home was a Catholic home. “My” chair in the kitchen faced a picture of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, an image that to this day makes me think of my grandmother. After she died, I put a holy card with this image on my kitchen windowsill so that my kitchen, too, would be graced by the Blessed Mother.

My grandmother’s kitchen was the heart of her home, and not just because she made the world’s best potato salad and roast chicken there. More importantly, she did her praying there.

Through her example, she showed me the importance of being dedicated to daily prayer. She had an envelope full of holy cards with prayers and novenas on the back and would work through the entire stack daily. It was part of her routine; it was integral to her life. When one of us kids would come into the kitchen bursting with a story or a riddle to tell, she’d listen a moment and then quietly remind us, “I’m saying my prayers,” and we’d wander off and try to silently raid the candy dish until she finished. She didn’t yell at us to stop interrupting, no matter how many times we did.

Those quiet witnesses in the kitchen really stuck with me. My grandmother wove prayer into her daily life. What an example to set for her family!

It is in my own kitchen, not surprisingly, that I feel closest to Mary. It is there that I serve my family–just as Mary once served hers. It’s a place of work and a place of prayer.

Barb Szyszkiewicz is a wife, mom of three, Secular Franciscan, homemaker, and freelance writer who blogs at Franciscan Mom and Mom’s Fridge. She’s been a “virtual but real-life” friend in my life for many years now, and it’s a joy and pleasure to have her as part of this series!

image credit: Our Lady of Perpetual Help, provided by the author