Sometimes as a parent you look back with regret at a childhood gone by because you finally understand how deeply some poor choices you made affected your child, but it is too late to change it. You try to do better, only to realize that as the child enters young adulthood the more you try to hang on, the more you have to let go, and all your trembling in fear at what lays ahead in the Big Bad World doesn’t stop time. You know said child is at a point in life where the only way said child will learn some lessons – some really tough lessons – is to let said child experience the natural consequences of said child’s choices for said child’s self. What do you do?
Ground her until she’s 30? Sit on her? Duct tape her butt to the sofa until she listens?
You think I’m kidding? Wait until you’ve got a fearless young adult staring at you blankly as you lecture mightily, only to tap her foot until you’re finished and walk away with a shrug because you’re so freaky and boring, and can’t just just be a normal person and chit-chat about fun stuff. I’ve come to regard this exasperation as the “painting-the-porch-while-the-house-is-burning” syndrome. How do you have pretty small talk when she’s about to burn her life away? Ah, but I digress.
During a particularly difficult time in our family, the advice in the self-help book Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me & Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent’s Guide to the New Teenager wasn’t really working for us, and I wanted to pray more. I also wanted a way to teach our smaller children about the prayers of the Rosary. I was having difficulty completing the whole prayer each day (“said child” stuff), and to make it worse, trying to weave “Stop hitting your sister!” in between Hail Mary’s was causing my prayers to sound more like screeching. Then one day, like a little flower from Heaven, I found a prayer card in my bag after I made a purchase at a Catholic gift shop. It was the following devotion, and I showed it to my husband. Take a look, particularly the fifth grace.
Devotion to the Drops of Blood
Lost by our Lord Jesus Christ
on His Way to Calvary
St. Elizabeth, Queen of Hungary, with St. Matilda and St. Bridget, wishing to know something of the Passion of Jesus Christ, offered fervent and special prayers, upon which Our Lord revealed to them:
To all the faithful who shall recite for 3 years, each day, 2 “Our Fathers”, 2 “Hail Marys” and 2 “Glory Bes”, in honor of the drops of Blood I lost, I will concede the following 5 graces:
1st – The plenary indulgence and remittance of your sins.
2nd – You will be free from the pains of Purgatory.
3rd – If you die before completing the said 3 years, for you it will be the same as if you had completed them.
4th – It will be upon your death the same as if you had shed all your blood for the Holy Faith.
5th – I will descend from Heaven to take your soul and that of your relatives, until the fourth generation.
Blessed by His Holiness Pope Leo XIII in Rome, April 5, 1890.
Please keep this prayer card with others that you say daily to remind you to recite these prayers.
Please record the date you started:
Mo Day Year
If you search around the internet for this devotion you will find some controversy about it. Traditional websites feature it, other websites question the veracity of the promises since it is a private revelation. Here I was, a convert mom trying, learning, and loving all the things Catholic, the unity, the One-Body, and I had no idea that there was discord among traditionalists and liberals. To a newcomer it looks about as smart as slapping your own face with your own hand. Anyway, I just knew that Catholics are supposed to be one family, and likewise my own family needed to be whole too. I asked my husband (a cradle-Catholic) about it and he answered with his typical manly wisdom.
“Just pray, honey.”
Together we began the devotion on July 7, 2009, and we told the children that we are praying for our family to always be together, and I explained about the devotion’s meaning and history. Now, I don’t fully understand what indulgences are; I can’t fully grasp what Purgatory will be; I won’t ever figure out how it’s possible for four generations of my family to be bound to Heaven like that, but I trust that this prayer will bear many fruits. God’s perfect, loving and merciful will be done.
Guess what? We have already been blessed because our family has developed a habit of prayer for the salvation of souls and we will continue it even after the three year mark, July 7, 2012. In fact, any time I feel anxious about my children, or any brother or sister in Christ, I take a few minutes to say an extra set of these six prayers. Sometimes I pray them throughout the day. I pray for Christian unity.
Further, three years is a significant portion of a small child’s life, and hopefully this firmly formed family habit will carry into our children’s adulthood. Conceivably it could carry on into the next four generations, and even beyond. Christians are people of faith, hope, and prayer. We don’t need to have all the answers; we need to pray, trust, love, and keep on working hard every day even if life seems difficult. There is an intense peace in that. In the interim “said child” has also matured into a pretty cool young adult who is just amazed at how much wiser Mom has gotten in only three years – and I don’t even consider using duct tape to get her to listen now.
Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in heaven. Matthew 18:18
Stacy Trasancos, Ph.D. is a scientist turned homemaker raising seven children with her husband in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. She is pursuing a MA in Theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary, and she is Editor-in-Chief at Ignitum Today and Catholic Stand, and a Senior Editor at Catholic Lane. She writes about popular science, dogmatic theology, and mountain life at her website.