My Mom's Little Prayer Books

My mom and dad lived in two "epochs" of the Church: pre- and post-Vatican II.

My parents raised us in that old Church tradition when Mass was in Latin and people brought their thick missals to follow the liturgy in English or Tagalog, and the priest faced the tabernacle at the main altar. Then women still wore veils to cover their heads and shoulders. Holy Communion was distributed only by the priest and on the tongue to communicants kneeling before altar rails. It was a time when altar boys were only boys.

My mom died in a foreign country just a few years after I saw her for the last time on her visit to us in our home country. She was waked and buried by all her children, except me, who gathered from two other countries. I was the only who could not make it to her funeral and I grieved alone from home.

My prized mementos of my mom were a bunch of letters we exchanged when she and I were in two different places abroad, and a bunch of old prayer booklets, including novenas to Our Lady of Perpetual Help, the Sacred Heart, St. Jude, Jesus and Mary stampitas (holy cards), and several more. They were neatly tied together by a piece of rubber band. They had turned brownish and some pages had tattered edges, showing signs of constant use. I know why that was. Mom often stayed a few more minutes in church after Mass continuing to pray using several of those prayer booklets.

Recently, while looking for some papers, I found those prayer booklets and spent some time looking over a couple of them. They were beautiful prayers. I imagined what went on in my mom's mind and heart at prayer during those times. I was sure my mom prayed for her family, for us. I am also sure she prayed for herself and my dad for guidance, for strength that they might be able to fulfill their dreams for us, her children. When Dad died, she performed that responsibility alone, not easily, but at the cost of much sacrifice on her part. And her efforts and prayers paid off for the most part.

In our town and all other towns I knew of in my childhood, those people who stayed longer in church after Mass, including daily Mass, were called "manangs." That name connotes extra "religiousness" or "religiosity." "Manangs" were mostly old women who had a lot of time on their hands like those who had retired from job or family responsibility and could therefore stay longer in church to pray their novenas or just converse with Jesus in the tabernacle. If that is what describes a "manang," Mom was one, but she was not that old when she became one.

After Dad died, Mom lived in two other countries abroad. When she died, she was not brought home to be buried beside Dad.

I am sure Mom's prayer booklets continued to be part of her prayer life in her old age when she could no longer walk to church like before or be brought to one. But even then Mom still had a lot to pray for, not only for her own personal holiness, but more so for her children. Although her sacrifices for us to have a better life was successful, she also valued our closeness to the Lord -- the Lord she found much time to lift her mind and heart to, aided by her little prayer books.

My mom and dad lived during two different periods of the Church. But that did not make any difference. They both tried to live holy lives. The little prayer booklets, especially Mom's, helped them. Their involvement in church ministries -- Legion of Mary, Catholic Women's League, Knights of Columbus, Adoracion Nocturna (Night Adoration) helped them as well. God gave them the grace and must have looked at them with much love and tenderness.

But most of all, their love for Jesus and the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, whether the traditional form or new one, made them close to the Lord they so much loved and served. #

"The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

(Psalm 145:18)

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