Involuntary distractions during or lack of fervour despite our good intention to say our prayers nicely are one thing, this can happen and is o.k., but saying our prayers quite unconcerned in a slapdash manner is quite a different matter – let’s all make an effort to say our prayers as good as possible, irrespective of the frame of mind we are in, as the importance of prayers said properly is brought home to us in the following story:
Blessed Alan de la Roche and other writers (including Saint Robert Bellarmine) tell the story of how a good confessor advised three of his penitents, who happened to be quite elderly sisters, to say the Rosary every day without fail for a whole year. This was so that they might make beautiful robes of glory for Our Lady out of their Rosaries. This was a secret that the priest had received from Heaven.
So the three sisters said the Rosary faithfully for a year and on the Feast of the Purification the Blessed Virgin appeared to them at night when they had retired. Saint Catherine and Saint Agnes were with her and she was wearing beautiful robes that shone and all over them “Hail Mary, full of grace” was blazoned in letters of gold. The Blessed Mother came to the eldest sister and said, “I salute you, my daughter, because you have saluted me so often and beautifully. I want to thank you for the beautiful robes you have made me.” The two virgin saints who were with Our Lady thanked her too and then all three vanished.
An hour later Our Lady and the same two saints appeared to them again, but this time she was wearing green which had no gold lettering and did not gleam. She went up to the second sister and thanked her for the robes she had made Her by saying her Rosary. Since this sister had seen Our Lady appear to the eldest much more magnificently dressed she asked Her the reason for the change. The Blessed Mother answered: “Your sister made Me more beautiful clothes because she has been saying her Rosary better than you.”
About an hour later after this she appeared to the last sister wearing tattered and dirty rags, looking all drawn. “My daughter,” she said, “I want to thank you for these clothes that you have made Me. This sister was covered with shame and she called out: “O, my Queen, how could I have dressed you so badly! I beg you to forgive me. Please grant me a little more time to make you beautiful robes by saying my Rosary better.” Our Lady and the two saints vanished, leaving the woman heartbroken. She told her confessor everything that had happened and he urged her to say her Rosary for another year and to say it more devoutly than ever.
At the end of the second year on the very same day of the Purification, Our Lady, clothed in a magnificent robe and attended by Saint Catherine and Saint Agnes, wearing crowns, appeared to them again in the evening. She said to them: “My daughters, I have come to tell you that you have earned heaven at last – and you will all have the great joy of going there tomorrow.” The three of them cried: “Our hearts are ready, dearest Queen; our hearts are ready.” Then the vision faded. The same night they became ill and so sent to their confessor who brought them the Last Sacraments and they thanked him for the holy practice that he had taught them. After Compline Our Lady appeared with a multitude of virgins and had the three sisters clothed in white gowns. While angels were singing “Come, spouses of Jesus Christ, receive the crowns which have been prepared for you for all eternity,” they departed from this life.
Some very deep truths can be learned from this story:
• How important it is to have a good confessor who will counsel holy practices, especially that of the Most Holy Rosary;
• How important it is to say the Rosary attentively and devoutly;
• How kind and merciful the Blessed Mother is to those who are sorry for the past and are firmly resolved to do better;
• And finally, how generous She is in rewarding us in life, death and eternity, for the little services we render her faithfully.
– by St Louis de Montfort