The Rosary links us to Heaven, and these sisters found a creative way to show that truth to the world.
One evening recently, my family joined in praying the Rosary along with people around the world. While all three men in the house were perfectly diligent, my daughter and I fell asleep snuggling on the couch, halfway through the second mystery.
Unlike at other times, it wasn’t boredom or sleepiness that prevailed. Instead I felt an unusual and irresistible serenity. I abandoned myself like a child embraced by my father or mother.
I’ve been having trouble sleeping for weeks and I have many nightmares. I think I’m not alone in this. For the first time, listening to that Rosary, I felt protected. I can’t think of a better word to describe it.
I let go of my grip and dropped my ballast. At times I feel tempted to attribute my chronic insomnia to lukewarm faith and lack of trust that God is at my side. But that evening, I felt that the Rosary is the true dwelling in which I want to spend my quarantine, more solid than reinforced concrete walls and providing me with everything I need.
At the beginning of the quarantine, I thought that the Church would focus all its efforts on virtual communication. I’m surprised, heartened and encouraged to note the resourcefulness of priests, friars, nuns, and thousands of other faces of the Church’s family members.
Our brothers and sisters in Christ are capable of finding creative ways to make themselves present while faithfully respecting the strict physical distancing imposed by civil authorities, it’s possible for the people of Christ to continue to bring to others the living freshness of the Good News.
It’s true that these are often small actions, but they’re like a breath of fresh air or a sip of cool water. They refresh us with the certain message that, even in the darkest dramas, death does not have the last word.
Shout it from the rooftops
The Gospel reminds us to make ourselves little, to become children again. The Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Avezzano (central Italy), had a childlike idea, in the best possible sense.
If there’s one thing that children adore, it’s balloons … perhaps because they give us the impression that there may be a narrow thread that binds us to Heaven. These nuns from Abruzzo made a huge rosary out of balloons and flew it over the roof of their church. As a local news outlet, Torre Marsicane, reports:
From every part of the city of Avezzano, you can clearly see a giant rosary made of 70 colored balloons. Sixty blue balloons make up the main beads, and another 10 make up the cross and the beads of the Our Father, for a total height of 21 meters (23 yards) … Sister Carla Venditti explains: “The people of the city, the people around us, had made us understand during these days of isolation that they needed a gesture of hope. So with the Sisters we made an enormous Rosary, which is our prayer to Mary to ask her for her help in this moment of difficulty.”
The famous gospel song tells us to “Go tell it on the mountains,” because we must announce good news from high places so that everyone can hear it. In times of quarantine, mountains are out of the question, but not rooftops.
In the short video below we can see, in the distance, the habits of the nuns who raise their lightweight rosary into the wind. In the background, some children explode into laughter, and their parents silence them. Really, though, their laughter wasn’t out of place; when we turn to Mary, we are all children—her children.
“But the Rosary on the rooftops of Avezzano isn’t just a sign or gesture of a simple request for help,” Sr. Carla tells Terre Marsicane. “Above all, it’s an invitation to unite ourselves in the Lord. We transmit the recitation of the Rosary every day on Facebook to hundreds of people… not necessarily from the city, but from every part of Italy and the world, and they pray with us thanks to this important digital medium. We also transmit adoration, as well as the Mass, from our main institute in Rome,” she concludes.
Sister Carla is well known in Abruzzo for being committed to fighting prostitution on the streets. Now, her mission takes her back inside the walls of the convent—yet even if you stay closed in, you can go far.
Like diligent sentinels, the nuns didn’t want to provide mere entertainment from the roof, but to show a visible sign to everyone of what’s happening inside the church, and can happen inside any house. Prayer is the thread that binds us tightly to Heaven, and the prayer that patiently prays one Hail Mary after another is almost an umbilical cord with which our Heavenly Mother keeps us alive here and now.