benedict option,  Catholic Spirituality,  Catholics Do What?,  Evangelization,  Family Life,  motherhood,  prayer,  spiritual warfare

Make America *good* again (with Mary)

Lately (as in the past 6 months or so) I’ve been feeling nudged?shoved?pushed? to start praying a daily rosary as a family. I have a whole laundry list of reasons why this is a terrible idea, but then again, most days I have an hour long Netflix or PBS kids playlist I can refer to and see that yes, my children do possess an attention span capable of sustained engagement – albeit perhaps formal spoken prayer being less fascinating to the toddler brain than Curious George.

But. We have to try. I look around at the increasing violence in the world, whether on the news or just on Netflix, at the seemingly endless human appetite for cruelty and vice, and I look at four small faces turned up at me, asking “why are you sad, Mommy?” when I gasp out loud at a text from a sister announcing (another) terror attack somewhere not so far away in the world.

I’m sad because I won’t always be there, baby. I’m sad because no matter the sweat and effort and grace and plain old fashioned hard work I put into forming your little minds and souls, I can’t guarantee a good outcome. I’m sad because free will, and sin, and hatred, and racism, and abortion, and honor killing, and suicide bombings, and fanatical gender ideologies.

I’m sad because I’m handing you over to a broken world, and that I can’t protect you from what’s out there. The clock is ticking down to the moment you’ll walk out the door and the shot will cut to your dad and me and the golden retriever on the front steps, heartbroken and hoping for the best like a good Subaru commercial. (But we are never getting a dog.)

I worry a lot about the future. It’s part of the reason I’m in the line of work I’m in, because it’s important to tell the truth to a world that would pretend it is only a construct, and because it’s worth the time it takes (even sometimes time away from my kids) to proclaim the Gospel, whether on the digital page or up on a stage, or just in a restaurant over cocktails with a friend.

But all the worry in the world can’t save this weary world. And all my efforts and all my good works are nothing in the face of that fantastic and mysterious force that is human free will. We make the best choices we can with our kids and work to lay a foundation of truth, goodness, and beauty…and they are free to walk away. They are free to turn around one day and look us dead in the eye and say “I hate you. I don’t believe any of this. I’m leaving.”

As we are free to do the same to God.

So, as a mother prone to natural anxiety to begin with, the only rational thing for me seems to be to entrust these little people who are en route to adulthood to the maternal care of a mother who will always be there. I picked up this book, “The Rosary: Your weapon for spiritual warfare,” more than a month ago and flipped through the introduction. Then, a couple weeks ago, I picked it up again and actually got down to the business of reading it. And all those little nudges in my heart to pray it more often and more faithfully coalesced in an upwelling of desire, strengthening my resolve to actually just start doing it.

I won’t always be there for my kids. But Mary will.

I can’t always be able to come when they call me. But she can.

I’m not able to soothe away some of the pain that this world will inflict on them. But Her Son will.

The further our culture – and the rest of the West with it – veers off the rails of the crazy train, the more convicted I become that the only thing I can actually do is change my own heart. Is beg God to change it for me.

It is our own personal holiness that matters. Not the way we vote, or the boycotts we participate in, or the arguments we win. Those things have a place, but in the grand scheme of things, it is conversion that matters, that makes real progress in this sin wearied world. Conversion leading to compassion. To conviction. To a desire to suffer out of love for the other. Even the stranger. Even the enemy.

And I can think of no greater aid to the process of conversion than spending time in conversation with the Mother of God.

Our school had a motto this past year, a quote from Mary to St. Dominic: “One day, through the Rosary and the scapular, I will save the world.”

When I saw it on the little prayer cards at the beginning of the academic term I thought it was cool. I also thought maybe a bit of an overstatement? But then again, if Mary wants to use these small, tangible acts of faith and humility to bring us to her Son, who am I to question her methodology? Surely we’ve proven ourselves (repeatedly) to be fairly incompetent in larger matters.

After reading about the Battle of Lepanto in the opening chapter of this book, I think that just maybe, Mary wasn’t messing around when she said those words. And when I think back to my lost college years – the few leading up to my reversion in particular – and the improbability that I would ever come to my senses and return to myself, I can’t help but think of the hundreds of rosaries my mom prayed for me, the nights she must have spent worrying over my soul, crying over my terrible choices, wondering why God was seemingly deaf to her prayers.

And I am grateful.

So we will pray the rosary. We will arm ourselves for battle and engage in the tedious, inglorious, and often strenuously resisted practice of tithing a small portion of our day to God. Praying not as we’d always prefer personally, perhaps, but as His mother has asked. Repeatedly. In this 100th anniversary year of the apparitions of Fatima, it seems only right that we take up our weapons and engage in battle.

However much wearied and however many whining toddlers we must persevere in the face of.

The rosary isn’t magical, but it is powerful. And it’s a bet I’m willing to make, staking my own selfish heart and my personal preferences on the hope that this faithfulness in small matters will transform our hearts and plant seeds in the hearts of our children that will blossom in eternity.

Let’s make America good again. How about the whole world, while we’re at it?

Let’s pray the rosary.


  • Deanne Miller

    Amen Amen Amen!!! Love all of this. And while we’re at it… as my sweet friend, Kate, at Motherhood Press promotes, let’s “Make America Holy Again”…by imitating Our Blessed Mother! (Holy – adj. Devoted to the service of God)

  • Kathleen

    This is beautiful… Did you hear the story of the Nigerian Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme, he was praying his heart out to God over the terrorism caused by Boko Haram in his country. All the sudden, he saw Christ with a sword in his hand, and when he handed the Bishop the sword, it turned into a rosary. Pretty flipping cool. We try to say it as much as possible as a family… we find we have a lot of success in the car when everyone is strapped in 🙂 🙂

  • Maria

    Yesssss! We will too 😀

    I read an anecdote in an article about the rosary and how a Japanese government official approached a Japanese priest and seriously asked him why all the war and violence was ongoing, and the priest incredulously giving him an answer about humanity being what it is and that, only to have the official say something like “well, your Mary said if you all pray the rosary, there will be peace, so… you should really be doing that, huh?” I liked a lot of things in there, but took the chastisement to heart. Your reasons are just as weight and important though and very comforting to think about as you’re right, of course, and that’s good.

  • tacy

    Yes! I love this! It sounds as though you are insinuating that we want our kids and America to be good in that we don’t want them to be terrorists! I hope not! Other than praying the rosary, which we should and hopefully as Catholics- we are- I would love to hear you write a post about how specifically we can make our country good again.

    Just offering my *honest* two cents!!

    • Angela

      Hmmm…I didn’t get that feeling from this post at all. I touched me as a more general sense of how the world and society as a whole are broken, whether it may be terrorism or any of the other countless numbers of issues wrong today. I am in the midst of this feeling myself with my own kids. It can and often does produce a lot of anxiety, but all we can do as mothers is embrace the opportunity God has given us with our children and continually pray for a conversion of all hearts.

      • MK

        I agree with Angela’s understanding of Jenny’s piece. I took what Jenny was saying to mean that there truly is very little we can control once our children are older and step out of our homes, into the world. In fact, there’s very little we can even control, right now.

        I’ve been working in our Nation’s Capital for years, in and with government and politics. We are leaving, soon, for the greener pastures of the Midwest; mostly motivated by what we’re moving toward, but also because to a large degree, what goes on here saddens and even sickens us. There is little service to the people anymore, largely because there is little service to something bigger than self. Several years ago, I was actually put at peace by a video — should be on YouTube — that (then Father, now Bishop) Robert Barron did about “moral agreement.” In fact, I think he also has written about it — just Google his name and that term.

        I surmise that praying the Rosary for the conversion of souls is probably one of the greatest, if not *the* greatest, thing we can do. Why? Because our country, I posit, has lost its “moral agreement.” There is no “at bottom, where we all agree” on a lot of these key issues that are tearing apart the basic fabric of our society as we once knew it. In fact, while there are many lost sheep, there are also those with agendas out there who actually *want* to tear apart the fabric of our society, as I’m sure you know — get rid of nuclear family, marriage; institute sodomy as natural, and child prostitution as legitimate; murder children; make legal child marriage, next it will be pedophilia. On and on…

        A lot of deep sickness, and frankly, pure evil at work. There is Satan worship all over the place that we simply don’t know about, while large swaths of our secularized nation laugh at the notion that Satan even exists — one of his greatest victories, sadly, has been convincing everyone that both God and he do not exist. Even our military now “allows” Satan worship as a form of “protected religious freedom.” Yikes!

        I don’t think it’s any mistake that this year, in a time of great tumult, we celebrate the 100th Anniversary of Fatima. The Blessed Virgin, in her apparitions at Fatima, talked about marriage and family being the final frontier of the battle against Satan in our society. When we ask the Blessed Virgin to protect us, guide us no matter what may come, and ultimately to step on the neck of the serpent, I don’t think there’s a greater way to make our country — or our world — good again.

        In sum, I won’t say I’ve “given up” on policy changes, but if people aren’t coming from a united place of Christian Truth and Charity, it’s hard to say what man-made, secular-sponsored policy/policies will really turn the tide…other than if Catholic Christians use the “have babies” solution and attempt to outnumber other voters by birth rate, since most of the West (including U.S.) is otherwise facing a demographic winter (saved only briefly by the immigration rate – but even they, once here for a generation or two, are down to 1-2 kids only, too). I’m only half-joking about that! 🙂

  • Kathryn

    Dear Jenny and all moms of littles and larger littles too……YES, pray the rosary! Yes, you can do it with children! And do NOT discount the sufferings of your days (little as well as big) and their ability to save the souls of your children, your husband and your own. God sees them, knows them, loves them, and uses them for great graces for the world as well.
    ~On our knees with you!

  • Jeanette

    Thanks for expressing exactly what’s been in my heart for the past few weeks. This world is breaking my heart, and it’s hard to keep thinking about the future our kids will live in. I just can’t seem to shake that urge to pick up my rosary on the drive to work/daycare/grocery store, even with screaming kids or the ABCs in the background. Somehow, I think all Mary wants is to be invited into that crazy, beautiful time. Thanks for sharing!

    • MK

      Do it, Jeannette! We could no longer resist that “urge” — God nudging us, I believe — and now we are regularly devoted, if imperfectly (see my post below!). God Bless!

  • Doug

    Mrs Uebbing, I sympathize with your fears and concerns. But I wonder why you choose to limit this “good” to America. Doesn’t your Bible have Abraham reminding (!) Yaweh that He is “judge of the whole world”? Gen 18:25
    If I read Isa 55:10,11 correctly, he stands ready to “undo the work of the devil” by means of his son, our ransomer. 1 John 3:8
    In turn David, speaking for the Greater David to come, makes this heartwarming promise, “for Yahweh loves justice and will not forsake his faithful. Evil-doers will perish eternally, the descendants of the wicked will be annihilated, but the upright shall have the land for their own, there they shall live forever.” Ps 37:28,29, NJB
    What do you think?

    • Jenny Uebbing

      It’s a play on a popular slogan in our country right now 😉 And I am, after all, an American. No offense whatsoever to the rest of this beautiful world.

      • Doug

        I understand that. But it’s also reminiscent of a recent politlcal slogan, with its hardcore supporters and opposers. Not what people of any country want from a [really] supreme being. In fact, we hope all Christians won’t settle for less than the government proposed at Mt 6:9,10.
        Wouldn’t your concerns all be met by the government our Lord said to ask for?

        • Caroline

          I don’t think she was referring to any country’s government – just self government as in living holier better lives- with the help of prayer, specifically the Rosary.

        • Maria

          I think it’s only natural to first worry about what’s closest to you. Subsidiarity is the ideal, for example. You start, as Mother Teresa said, with your family, and move out in concentric circles from there. The convenience of play on words with the making America and such just worked here. Plenty of people in my area put out signs like “make America kind again”, etc. Also, refer to the Lourdes hymn/Immaculate Mary, where we ask she bless the land of our birth (which was France initially I’d think). I think you maybe missing the forest for the trees..

          • Doug

            Maria, I agree we start at home. But Jesus taught adults, and one thing he taught most is God’s kingdom. Mt 24:14. That, as I noted, is worldwide. Would you agree that’s worth praying and working for?

          • Maria

            I’ll be bold and say that everyone commenting and Jenny agrees that we should pray, and indeed are praying for, the whole world!

          • Jean C

            Doug agrees with Maria “we start at home” and then goes on to say “but Jesus taught adults”. Well, Jesus also taught children, as he did when he raised them from the dead (Matt. 9 23-26) where he blessed the children (Matt. 19 13-15) or how about mention of the unnamed boy with the barley loaves (John 6). Does anyone believe the children weren’t listening to what the adults, and Jesus in particular, were talking about? Same as they do today.

            Perhaps Doug could clarify whether he thinks children should or shouldn’t be taught how to pray, or whether it’s the Rosary in particular he’s opposed to teaching them?

            We teach our children to love and serve and worship the Lord from the time they’re born. The Rosary is one of many prayers prayed worldwide, is scripturally based and from the beginning salutation delivers God’s carefully worded message to Mary through the Archangel Gabriel. That should be good enough for all of us, including Doug.

          • Jenny Uebbing

            I’m pretty sure Doug is just trolling us because he disapproves of Mary’s mediation as Mother of God and has some beef with Catholic teaching in general. Since it’s far afield of the point of this post, I’m moderating his comments from here out because they’re distracting from the real conversation. God bless you all.

  • mommacita

    Dear Jenny,
    Ave Maria! We have been praying the daily rosary for the past 3 and 1/2 years. When we started my youngest was 4. We called it the squirmy wormy rosary. We started for Lent and my husband and I realized very quickly the graces we were receiving wasn’t something we wanted to shut off. Since we pray it every day, we do 54 day rosaries, 81 day rosaries, even rosary novenas of simple 9. We pray for other families and graces for ourselves. It has been INCREDIBLE! We also prayed that the Lord would show each child what He wants them to be in this life. He let them know. We also pray for the courage to do what God wants them to do. We include their future spouses in every nights rosary..that they too are growing up in safe warm loving Catholic homes and encountering Jesus. Momma Mary will do so much through all of your hands in doing this daily.

  • MK

    Amen, Jenny! I support your commitment to daily Rosary! Stories of the amazing, humbling rewards of the Rosary are written about everywhere; and of course, we hope, the most amazing story is unwritten – that the Blessed Virgin will remember us and pray for us in that hour of our death.

    I began praying the Rosary on my morning commute (train) several years ago. My husband grew more interested in it as a result, and we began to pray it together, particularly after learning of the additional indulgences you receive when you pray the Rosary together.

    Along came 2 little people (and now a 3rd on the way!), and it became more challenging. The time that we really solidified praying it together was on the way home from a friend’s daughter’s birthday, when our son was only a few months old and *HATED* the car seat, screamed those shrill baby screams non-stop through awful traffic all the way home. Instead of getting upset or frustrated, we submitted ourselves in prayer; he didn’t stop crying, but it sure helped us!

    In fact, I can sort of mark my increasing devotion to the Rosary by my childbirths. During the delivery of my first child, I recall trying while in labor to pray the Rosary, which I had not been praying regularly yet myself, and I didn’t feel at all adept. In that moment, I told myself: “I should probably *really* learn this!” By the second child’s delivery (before I went into active labor), I was there alone (initially – waiting for doula and then later, husband) and was praying readily, and thinking, wow I couldn’t do this last time! More recently, I have taken the time on my quiet train rides to learn the Latin, and now I pray it in Latin when I’m praying it alone! I wouldn’t be surprised if my husband jumps on the Latin train next 😉

    Praying the Rosary has no doubt inspired great devotion and redoubled commitment to faith in our household – I credit the Blessed Virgin for truly bringing us closer to her Son. I am certain that anyone who prays the Rosary regularly and asks for God’s graces will be awed at what they experience over time, and how it inspires them to continue to learn and grow in their faith.

    Practically speaking, it’s been a challenge to keep praying it together, since our 3 and 1 year olds, respectively, are not so interested in remaining quiet. We pray it together in the car when we are together driving here or there, or sometimes after they go to bed. We’ve tried praying it in the evening, getting everyone into our bed and just letting them relax, nurse, watch video maybe. As we know, however, that is about the *worst* time of day for kids that age…

    In any case, sometimes these things work, and sometimes they don’t. It can be more frustrating for us to begin praying it together and then have to stop because the kids want our attention (naturally). Still, I pray it dutifully on my commute the days I go into the office, and we try our best the other days. We definitely look forward to the days when our kids are just a *little* bit older and we can truly pray it as a family!

  • Caroline

    I tell my kids at the beginning of each rosary that we pray the rosary because Our Lady asked us, told us- and she’s been asking us for centuries now. Pure and simple. She asked us to pray the rosary.

    It’s such a simple request- and it takes all of 20 minutes. Maybe even 15.

    I heard Fr. Corapi call it a weapon- a weapon with a fifty round clip. Plenty of ammunition to fight the devil.

  • Kate

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!! “It is our own personal holiness that matters. Not the way we vote, or the boycotts we participate in, or the arguments we win.” This is so true, and so refreshing.

  • Jean C

    “Let’s make America good again. How about the whole world while we’re at it? Let’s pray the Rosary.” Beautiful sentiments, Jenny, heartwarming to read these words. Your inclusiveness wasn’t lost on me, and as someone who isn’t American, I thank you for that.

    Peace on earth begins with ourselves as individuals, grows and extends to others as we obediently obey our Holy Mother “Do as he tells you.” Having been a devotee of the Rosary since childhood, and now into my senior years, I can vouch for the spiritual benefits gained from this practice. It’s always been a comfort to know that whenever I pick up my beads, whether to pray for myself, family, friends or strangers, that I never pray alone, as somewhere, someone is undoubtedly also praying to Jesus in the company of Mary. As our Lord said, wherever two or more are gathered in His name he is also present.

  • jeanette

    Jenny: When my kids were young, I would pray one rosary decade a day with them, Monday through Friday, one decade each day with the particular mysteries for whatever liturgical season we were in (i.e. Sorrowful during Lent). We would do all of the beginning prayers on Monday with the first decade. At the Our Father bead, I would read a reflection on the bead from Fr. Peyton’s Rosary Reflections, and then put it into words they could understand. After they spent a year or so doing that, we moved into praying the whole rosary because they seemed ready and desired to do so. Just let them know it is a heart activity…i.e. it is their heart united to Jesus through Mary when they pray the rosary. Attention spans for TV shows is a lot different from attention spans for prayer. It helps to begin with a few moments reflecting on what you are praying for (again, at their level), whether you are praying for a family member, peace in the world or whatever. This helps them to focus their heart on the needs of others, which children usually have a great interest in. Knowing that simply praying for others is the way God invites them to share in His merciful love is meaningful to them.

  • Evelyn

    I’m also curious to where is the best place to pray the rosary with young children… we don’t have a little oratory set up (also on the house hunt), and our icons have been removed from the wall. So, in the living room on the couch? In a bedroom in the floor with a little image of Mary? Where will they be excited and eager to pray (we would start with a simple decade) but not too excited as to lose interest in 0.4746 seconds? (Ie: jumping on moms bed).

    Love the suggestions so far on how to warm the kids up… Mary asks us to. Love that one. So simple and consice.

    • Jean C

      Evelyn, we found the best place to pray with them was the same place where we read to them, and where we also read to them from their children’s Bible, on the sofa. (lots of beautiful full colour pictures). They still have their original rosaries, and now our grandchildren are in possession of that well used, well worn Bible. I think the way to proceed is well explained by Jeanette – worked well for our family.

      Best wishes on your house hunt as well.

  • Dawn

    I’m a relatively new reader to your blog and I just have to say that I have loved every post so far! You are putting out there what so many of us are feeling, but may not be able to say, or even find someone who shares our view. Thank you!!

  • Jean C

    I’ve met some people who’ve told me they don’t pray the rosary because they were forced to do so as children, every evening down on their knees, day in, day out. Sounds like a forced march! Over the years I’ve used different methods, now have a collection of scriptural rosary prayer books which freshen up the experience. I think the key is to remain flexible both with oneself and with family prayer so that it becomes a time of day we look forward to. I personally don’t care for the fast paced monologue rosary just before Mass begins because it moves too quickly for reflection on my part, but there again, a variation many find very meaningful. Just don’t give up, find a way to enter into the practice and see the results.

    • Maria

      We also change things up. First and most importantly in our efforts thusfar has been breaking it up. Most often we’ll pray to decades at home in the morningish/around naptime, followed by three before bed when the whole family is home (read: Dad!). We sometimes tell the story of the mystery before the decade, sometimes verses in between each prayer, sometimes have art for that mystery available, sometimes focus on intentions related to that mystery, sometimes just imagining the mystery, sometimes relevant ways for us to try and be like Jesus or Mary in the mystery… It makes it not become something we blast through unthinkingly, though anything I’m sure is better than nothing if you’re just starting. Many times I’m distracted during the evening decades to the point I only announce the mysteries and count to ten 😀 Not ideal, but temporary I hope 😀

      Anyway. Basically a LOT of words to say I agree.

      Oh, and there are some pretty sweet coloring books on amazon for the mysteries. One in particular includes all twenty and is marketed for adults, but we got it for the kids to use during our daytime prayers as sometimes it’s helpful to have.

    • Jean C

      When our daughter was young and starting to pray the rosary on her own (and I didn’t know about it) she told a religious sister that she prayed when she went to bed but often fell asleep before finishing the rosary. Sister smiled and reassured her that the angels would finish her prayers for her. While we don’t find evidence of that in the Catechism, we are informed the Communion of Saints and the Angels join in our prayers at Mass, so I suspect they do so at other times, as well, even when we’re distracted (and counting to ten) 🙂

  • Beth

    I’ve been thinking about praying the Rosary more, as in daily! At best, I pray it sporadically, but I love what you have written here. This may just be the nudge I need to step it up. Thank you!

  • D. Geil Gustafson

    Might be that Doug, like many intellectuals, has ‘studied’ Christian (Roman Catholics- the original Christians) history but has not yet come to the one essential truth … unless we become as children and trust in God without ego, without selfish pomposity… we cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. Greater people in history have prayed the Rosary for individual need. God answers. Holy Mother Mary carries our pitiful prayers to Him.
    I’m in🙋

    • Jean C

      I suspect the folks you speak of fear we are committing idolatry when we venerate (not worship) our Holy Mother or when we take our joys and sorrows to her in addition to, not in place of praying to God. As St. Maximilian Kolbe said “Never be afraid of loving the Blessed Virgin too much. You can never love her more than Jesus did.” Just as I love and respect my best friend’s mother, so, too, do I love and respect the mother of our Lord, who gave her to be our mother, too.

    • Doug

      I’m no more intellectual than the plebians at Acts 4:13. I do study history, from personal interest. Also religion, ditto. In Catholic matters I use the NJB because of its footnote apparatus, and the Catholic Encyclopedia at I recommend both to anyone. I got better-than-average reading ability from genetics and from my parents’early attention to me. I take no credit for it, with pomposity or otherwise. These sources of information are available to all here.
      Knowledge puffs up, someone said. That is a human failing. Do you agree that it also equips one to carry out Peter’s command at 3:15?

  • Leigh-Anne

    Hi Jenny!

    I felt the same urging to begin praying the Rosary with my family and my young boys(5, 1.5) in particular daily. My first attempts were miserable failures as they were moving around and distracted with whatever they saw. So I think I have found a system that works great for us and might work for you also…I have the Laudate app on my phone and they have several different audible Rosaries to choose from. The boys, my husband, and myself lay in bed and put on the Rosary led by one of the men on the app. I purposely do this because I want my boys to think it’s totally normal for men to be praying the Rosary. So there we are ending the day in prayer together petitioning Our Lady. The boys usually fall asleep by the second or third decade and my husband and I finish together. My oldest will ASK to pray the Rosary before bed if I get in a hurry to put him down or forget to put it on. 🙂 I hope this idea works for others. Thanks for speaking TRUTH!


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