HOLMDEL/COLTS NECK- Hail Mary Full of Grace!

August 15th, The Feast of the Assumption, a Holy Day of Obligation, is celebrated by Catholics around the world as they honor Mary, the Mother of Jesus Christ. The Assumption of Mary into Heaven is often shortened to one word; Assumption. The Holy Day is in observance of the bodily ascension of the Blessed Mother into heaven. It's a time of the year when many take the time out to say the rosary more often, or perhaps participate in a Novena. Sometimes this can be planned or spontaneous.... Here is something I did not plan -  running late for 5:30 evening mass this past Saturday so we looked for a plan B.

My teenage daughter went to catholic-mass-times.com and found there was a mass nearby a little later. So we went to 6:30 PM mass at Saint Catherine's on Bray Avenue in Middletown - a new experience for all of us. After finding a parking spot in the busy lot my teenage daughter, two seven year old daughters, my 5 year old son and I entered the church at 6:32. We were surprised to see it was packed with about 300 people, all very energetically saying the rosary. Thinking they must be near the end of the rosary and mass would start any minute, we found a seat near the back of the church. We soon realized they were at the beginning of the rosary which eventually ended at 7pm. It was beautiful although my little ones were starting to get fidgety...until something even more surprising happened.

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Women on all 4 corners of the church started passing out tissues and passing them to everyone. One tissue per person...smiling and talking to the people in the pews who acted like this was a normal ocurrance as it apparently was.  So, when it came to be our pew's turn to take the tissues I asked what the tissues were for. The woman answered with a big smile, "Oh they are to wave to Our Blessed Mother just like they do in Europe."  

My little ones found the waving of the tissue idea very exciting. Then, mass started and was really full of beautiful and lively singing and then a very interesting homily about how God always answers our prayers. The priest explained that the answer just might not be the way we understand it, or happen in the life we are currently in. Our prayers may be answered when we pass to the next life... The way he explained it made me understand my faith better. I was nourished.

Mass was beautiful. Mass was longer than usual. My little ones had disruptive bathroom breaks, taking turns marching to the restroom... My youngest became  rambunctious... We got to the end of mass about 8pm. Ok we made it! No one moved from the pews and then it rolled right into a Solemn Novena of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. I had to laugh when my young ones started asking with worried faces, "Mom!! Are we saying the rosary again??"

Here's what I found remarkable about the whole experience, there was a palpable and  positive energy in that church. So many people were praying together and they were so happy about it.  It was near 8:15 when the Novena ended and they went into the Ave Maria and then my children really were excited because it was time to wave those tissues. It was a joyful holy moment and I did capture a short video clip because I felt it was truly a special event:

Mary is my go to always. I was baptized at Our Lady of Lebanon National Shrine in Ohio, where my uncle Father Maron Abi-Nader was one of the three priest founders. For more information about the Basilica and National Shrine of Our Lady of Lebanon you can go to http://ourladyoflebanonshrine.com  I've taught my children that Mary is always with them. Whenever they are afraid or need guidance to pray to her; "say 3 Hail Mary's and she will guide you."  I love the Blessed Mother and feel so close to her. I was thankful to be there on Saturday. My children were participating in the rosary and that was a special gift for all of us. Sometimes when plans don't work out there's something different and extraordinary that unfolds. This was one of those moments and it was beautiful. I started to share my 'Mary story' from this past weekend, and I have been overhearing my children talk about Her too, and I love that!

To enjoy a beautiful rosary experience from where ever you are even while working out at the gym, you can use your smartphone or laptop to try one of the many apps available. You can also go to one of my new favorites:   and the video will guide you through the mysteries, etc. This was a great tip that I just learned while attending rosary group at Saint Leo the Great (SLG) Church in Lincroft. I have had the priviledge of being a part of this rosary group since 2009 (when my daughter attended St Leo the Great School and I met this amazing group). In recognition of the 100th Anniversary of the miracle at Fatima, the SLG group is currently gathering for the rosary every 13th of the month, after 9am mass in the chapel inside the Parish Center at SLG. They will continue the rosary on the 13th until the 100th Anniversary of Fatima on October 13th, and then will continue on a normal weekly schedule to be announced. For more information about Saint Leo the Great Rosary Group you can contact Joan Kret at joankret@gmail.com The SLG website is http://saintleothegreat.com 

If you would like to share a story about your religion, TAPintoHolmdel&ColtsNeck would like to hear from you.  Please contact jwall@tapinto.net or call/text 732.492.2500  Have a Blessed Day!