There was a terrible fire at the parish.  Most of the church was damaged or destroyed.  I went to Adoration (held in the gym of the school) the next morning in the frigid cold, wondering what I would find.

I shouldn’t have wondered at all… there they were, the warriors wearing veils, winter coats and thick boots.  Warriors holding rosaries, and praying in earnest.  They didn’t fret, or cry, they just hunkered down to fight the good fight.  They were, as they always are, the church ladies.

Some people think of the Blessed Virgin Mary as timid, but not me.  I see her following her Son, heart breaking, body aching and fighting her way up to Calvary.  Others turn away in grief or fear, but Our Dear Mother looks upon her Son, sharing in His suffering.  She never gives in to fear, but fights on.

            Mary was in fact, the first church lady.

In weather that make younger people call in sick and hide beneath the covers, these ladies brave the elements to attend daily Mass.  You will find them there in all weather and under any circumstances.  They storm heaven for their loved ones, they plead daily for those away from the Church, they are as unafraid as they are unassuming.  They are my heroes.


The two church ladies (Mary Lou and her mom, Petronilla)

I am blessed to be the daughter of a church lady.  She is five foot nothing and the most faithful follower and prayer warrior I know.  We attend Mass together almost every day.  We are exquisitely aware of how precious each Mass that we share with one another is.  She has given me the most wonderful gift of the example of faith.  I frequently tell her, that one day when she is no longer with me, I will still feel her at the Mass in the communion of saints.

The church ladies almost always need (or have had) knee replacements as they wear out their praying knees a little faster than most.  Several of my morning Mass friends walk with canes, and yet they are always there, as tough as any man who ever stormed a beach during wartimes. They rarely complain about pain, because they rejoice in offering it up for those in need.

Their physical ‘scars’ are nothing compared with the emotional ones they have tattooed on their hearts. They are up on the wall, defending the Faith and defending their loved ones in the battle with evil. Behind every reversion, each miracle and many wise choices there is a grandma praying!

I hope that someday, I will be accepted into the ranks of the, “Offer it up,” brigade and will be referred to by others as, “one of those church ladies.”  It will truly be an honor.

“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life”. – Abraham Lincoln

Mary Lou Rosien BSW, MA is the RCIA Coordinator at St. Leo Church in Hilton, New York.  She is  the author of  Managing Stress with the Help of Your Catholic Faith (OSV) and Catholic Family Boot Camp (Bezalel Books). Mary Lou is also a columnist with  Catholicmom.com, and AmazingCatechists.com







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