my senior year at the University of Notre Dame, I taught another
student how to pray the Rosary. Her name was Christi "Bai"
TePas. Along with several friends, Bai and I consecrated ourselves
to Mary Immaculate on Dec. 8, 1983.
hen, I lost track
of Bai after I graduated. She spent the next seven years praying
the Rosary every day to find a husband. And as Providence would
have it, he turned out to be me!
1990, we were reunited and got married on Dec. 8. We consecrated
our marriage to Our Lady, and our life together has been a spiritual
adventure. In fact, just as perseverance in praying the Rosary brought
us to the altar, so it became the foundation of our family prayer
life and our work as lay apostles.
fast-forward 12 years. God has blessed us with four sons. I wish
I could say our family Rosary is a peaceful spiritual experience,
but it rarely works out that way. Our boys are like all boys: energetic,
good-natured, and given to struggles with each other and their own
still-developing wills and virtues. This is a delicate way of saying
that they're wild and warlike little men in the great Macfarlane
tradition of our Scottish forebears.
surprisingly, our family Rosary time is often a struggle against
distraction. We pray the Rosary as we put the boys to bed amidst
endless squirming, frayed young nerves, and our own fatigue as hard-working
our sons have fallen asleep every night of their lives, from their
time in the womb (for scientists have proven that unborn babies
can hear what's going on outside) until this very day with their
parents' and brothers' prayers of love to Jesus and Mary in their
believe Jesus gives us more grace despite these distractions. My
wife and I do not have the luxury of meditating peacefully as we
pray with Our Lady, but her faithfulness to us is what really matters.
Besides, I doubt anybody in the Vatican will be considering canonizing
me as an example of mystical contemplative prayer.
persistence in family prayer is a widow's mite every family can
offer God -- and this is just one lesson my sons learn as brothers
of Christ and sons of Mary. We have learned, for example, to share
the sublime joy of experiencing the sweetest fruit of our "spiritual
labor." That is, our prayers are answered, sometimes after
years of intercession.
Macfarlanes have witnessed miracles great and small in the lives
of our friends and relatives many times over. Unemployed fathers
find jobs. As we did, our friends find spouses. Houses are sold.
The lukewarm and fallen away are converted. No one will ever be
able to convince my sons that prayers are not answered. Long after
others have given up, my sons will know to keep praying.
Lady is teaching my sons other important lessons. Battles for souls
begin and end with prayer. Family prayer is powerful prayer. Our
Lady loves us not just as individuals, but as a family. And through
the mysteries, my sons learn about Jesus -- that He was a little
baby and a little boy, too.
learn that Christians proclaim the kingdom of God without fear --
that if you want to save souls like Jesus, imitate His suffering.
When the crosses of life knock you down, you get back up because
that's what Jesus did. Our boys know that the Resurrection will
come, and when it does, we will be with the Queen of Heaven, Mary,
because she is the Queen of the Macfarlanes, too.
is what is happening inside my sons' souls in the order of powers
and principalities, despite the distractions, when the Macfarlanes
pray together every night. Mary taught her Son these truths when
He was a boy, and she is now teaching our sons -- and their parents
-- these same lessons.
also pray five 54-day Rosary novenas each year as a family, beginning
or ending on the same five prominent feast days -- along with many
thousands of friends and benefactors of our lay apostolate, the
Mary Foundation, which sponsors these powerful novenas. My sons
are learning that our family prayer can be joined with the family
prayers of others in the Mystical Body of Christ.
distributed hundreds of thousands of free Rosary tapes and CDs over
the years through the Mary Foundation, which my wife is fond of
referring to as "our only daughter." I always take consolation
that Bai's lovely voice, which I enjoy every night, leads the first
decade of the Rosary on the tape, although few listeners realize
this. My sons and I are happy to share!
brings us to last October. Because of my work, I had heard the rumors
about the new Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary through the Internet
grapevine. It was with great pleasure, then, that my wife shook
my shoulder to wake me on Oct. 17, holding up a printout of the
Pope's announcement. It was a beautiful beginning to a beautiful
day for our family.
all the excitement, many folks missed that Oct. 16 -- the day the
Holy Father proclaimed the Luminous Mysteries -- was a big day for
him personally because it marked the start of the 25th anniversary
year of his election as Pope.
my wife woke me on Thursday morning, it was also a big day in the
Macfarlane home. Our third son, Xavier Aquinas (no pressure with
that name!), turned 5 years old on Oct. 17. Our family tradition
is to have our 5-year-old begin leading the first mystery of the
family Rosary each and every evening -- until the next son turns
5, at which point the older boys all jump "forward" to
lead the subsequent mystery. Xavey was excited by the cake, the
presents, and the prospect of leading all of us in the new mysteries
later that evening. As it turns out, Thursday is also the day of
the week Pope John Paul II recommended for meditating on the new
mysteries, which focus on the public ministry of Jesus.
if to add to Xavey's papal birthday gift, Oct. 17th is also the
day that my family begins our favorite 54-day novena. Why is it
our favorite? Because of the feast day on which the novena ends.
So when Xavier led us in "the Baptism in the Jordan" --
christening the first Macfarlane family Rosary on the Luminous Mysteries,
the most important new development in the most popular Catholic
devotion in the world -- we were also beginning a novena that ended
this past Dec. 8, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Our
little son had just led us in prayer to our 12th wedding anniversary
and the 19th anniversary of my wife and I consecrating our hearts
to Mary Immaculate!
was another Macfarlane anniversary on Dec. 8, 2002. Our second child,
whom Bai miscarried on that day, would have been 9 years old. The
Macfarlanes echo our Holy Father's motto: we are all yours, Mary,
and all that we have is yours, on earth and in heaven. We have the
anniversaries and the birthdays, sufferings and joys to prove it.
though our family Rosary that evening came with the usual distractions,
Xavey nailed his decade like a veteran. I'm sure Our Lady was smiling
upon us on that mystically beautiful evening, and she confirmed
to us that Xavey is a natural born leader. Twenty years from now,
I'm sure Xavier and other Macfarlanes yet to be born will be offering
their lives to Our Lady and praying the family Rosary. Perhaps one
will be writing an article for this magazine.