Baby Steps

Finding New Ways to Pray

My fifteen-month-old son’s favorite game is “run into Mommy’s room and grab things out of her nightstand before she catches me.” As soon as I set him on his feet at the top of the stairs, he bolts down the hall, giggling, and by the time I’ve finished fastening the baby gate behind me he’s fleeing the scene of the crime, clutching his contraband. When I catch him and pry open his little fists I find ballpoint pens, a wristwatch, my glasses, and his favorite: my rosary. Well, I think, at least someone’s using it.

The last time I actually prayed using that or any other rosary was fifteen months ago, the night before Marty was born. It’s a beautiful crystal rosary engraved with my great-grandmother’s name, and when I was pregnant I prayed the Joyful Mysteries with some intensity. Then I had the baby, and while the affective connection to the BVM continued, any form of prayer involving sustained contemplation became a distant memory. I think of all those images of the Annunciation where the young Mary is surprised by Gabriel as she sits quietly reading her Psalms. Enjoy that while it lasts, the angel seems to be saying.

I know I’m not the first to discover that entering a new state of life requires learning new ways to pray. At first, of course, I spent a lot of time nursing and rocking the baby, and I hopefully tucked a (less precious) rosary in the pocket of the...

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About the Author

Mollie Wilson O'Reilly is an editor at large and columnist at Commonweal.