Caught by surprise at holy hour

October 4, 2009 | prayer

From my post today on OSV Daily Take:

I was recently drafted onto my parish’s Vocations Committee and decided to join the group for its monthly holy hour for vocations. As we prayed the Rosary in our parish chapel, with various people leading each decade as in the norm, something far outside the norm occurred. I have to admit that I was taken aback by it and still find myself replaying it in my head trying to figure it out.

As we got around to the fifth decade, an older woman a few rows ahead took the lead. I found myself silently startled as she prayed the Hail Mary using the wrong words. I shook it off, attributing it to some sort of brain freeze on her part, and figured we’d resume the normal praying with the next Hail Mary. Wrong. If this was a brain freeze, it was a decade-long freeze. Either that or it was a conscious decision to rewrite this beloved prayer and force the rest of us to come along for the ride.

Here’s how her version of the Hail Mary went:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with US.
Blessed is the fruit of your woman, Jesus.

Is it my imagination or did she just demote Mary? In her version of the prayer, Mary no longer has the Lord with her and she is no longer blessed among women.

Now, I have a hard enough time praying the Rosary without this kind of distraction. I found myself trying to race through the correct version of the prayer in my head in time to join the group at the half. Out of the corner of my eye I could see several other women in the back rows looking around for a ref to call a foul. It really was one of the strangest prayer experiences I’ve had in recent memory. It amazes me when someone decides to use a moment of public prayer to make a personal statement, causing an entire chapel full of people to lose sight of what they were doing — praying the Rosary for vocations — and focus instead on the actions of a single person.

So what do you think? Have you heard someone mangle the Hail Mary repeatedly in this fashion before? Is it a slip of the tongue or a not-so-hidden agenda?

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