Matthew’s fellow soldiers sensed his luck and asked him what his secret was. He admitted that he prayed the rosary daily because in a dream Mary had promised him that doing so will save him from getting hurt.
So it came to be that they all prayed the rosary together and indeed none of the soldiers got hurt. Yet one day, one of them was killed in action and all the men felt their faith weaken. They confronted Matthew, but he was at a loss for words.
“Maybe he didn’t pray hard enough,” suggested one soldier.
“Why did God allow him to die?” asked another.
Then the youngest of them, the quietest one who never said more than two words at a time, said, “Why are you all disheartened? Mama Mary promised that by praying the rosary we would not be hurt. She didn’t say we would not die.”
And indeed since their dead companion died instantly, there was reason to believe that, except for the actual pain of death which even those who die in their sleep cannot escape, he was not hurt.
“And there is no reason to ask why God allowed him to die,” continued the young soldier. “Don’t you already know? God allowed him to die because God wanted to make him a hero.”
Everybody stared at him. He had their complete attention.
“That’s what human life is about, isn’t it?” the young private continued. “First, there are the Joyful Mysteries. We are born and our parents rejoice. Then there are the Sorrowful Mysteries. We serve God as true Christians, we suffer and we die. But there is nothing to fear because there are the Glorious Mysteries. After death is the glory of the resurrection. In between, there are the Luminous Mysteries. We are baptized hence we are to live for God. And we are sustained by Jesus’ miracles, by the promise of the Kingdom of God, by the promise that we will also be shining, shimmering, splendid like Jesus in the Transfiguration –”
The soldiers laughed because the young private used the words ‘shining, shimmering, splendid.’
“– and lastly by the Eucharist which is God Himself. When we pray the rosary, we always ask that we obtain the promises of the Mysteries. Those promises are to see Jesus, to obtain everlasting life. Those promises are now fulfilled for one of us.”
The soldiers were all silent for they did not see the rosary like the young private did. Who would have thought that the young private understood more than they did? This filled the others with shame.
The sergeant, to redeem himself, nodded and said, “Now boys, let’s pray.”
Matthew watched as all took out their rosaries and knelt. He took out his and knelt too. All kinds of weapons surrounded them, and their muscles bulged as their right arms curled to make the sign of the cross.
For 15 minutes these macho men would remind themselves that they too were children in the eyes of God. They too were young boys who would delightfully sit on the lap of their mother Mary to relive the life of their brother Jesus. Most people thought of the rosary as a feminine devotion, but these soldiers knew better.
“Pray for us, oh Holy Mother of God,” the men prayed in unison, “that we may be worthy of the promises of Christ. Oh God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life …”
A force swept around them, and it was felt not just by Matthew but by everyone. This force blessed them and boosted their morale and filled them with joy. “… grant, we beseech You, that by meditating on these mysteries in the most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise …”
And since then, filled by the mysterious Spirit, they no longer feared death; rather they looked forward to it as the end of their exile.
*This story is an excerpt from my novel in progress.