Special Issue - Prayer

‘How blessed are we? How fortunate are we?’

by Marc and Julie Anderson

LAWRENCE — The date of this special issue — May 13 — is an auspicious one to Georgine McHenry, a member of St. John the Evangelist Parish here.

For it was on May 13, 1917, that the Blessed Virgin Mary first appeared to three shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. The children, two girls and one boy, received visions for six months. The church has since determined the visions to be authentic.

As McHenry is one of three children, two boys and one girl, she found it interesting that the holy card used for her mother’s funeral featured a picture of Our Lady of Fatima with the three children. It is a fact that has comforted McHenry. She said her mother was an amazing model of faith.

“I couldn’t have had a better role model for being Catholic. . . . Mom was good.”

Perhaps her mother’s example is why McHenry’s prayer life is rich today and includes prayer styles that range from the rosary and the chaplet of Divine Mercy to informal conversations with God.

But McHenry said praying while listening to music is probably her favorite way of praying.

After retiring in 2011, McHenry has more free time than she used to. And while she has an abundance of Christian music on her computer, she does not want to sit in front of it. Nor does she want to sit in front of a television. So, she knits and puts music on in the background.

Using a machine on a table to assist with the knitting process, McHenry said the activity itself is somewhat mindless. While the music plays, McHenry reflects on the lyrics.

“And I just knit away. . . . The music soothes me,” she said.

Having grown up listening to both Motown and disco records, listening to Christian music was not something she enjoyed at first. Now, she cannot imagine her life differently.

McHenry wakes up most mornings with Christian songs running through her head. Some of her favorite songs right now include “Life is Beautiful” by Press Play, “Feel It” by Tobymac and “Trust In You” by Lauren Daigle, a variation of the chaplet of Divine Mercy.

Even though she has some favorites, McHenry said she ends up getting lost in almost whatever song she’s listening to at any moment.

[The song] ends up enveloping all of me,” said McHenry. “And I just feel at peace. No matter what’s going on, I feel peaceful.”

Knitting has also become a form of prayer for her.

Before McHenry retired, she thought about what she would do with her spare time. She settled on making knitted items like ear warmers and scarves and giving them to charitable organizations. Almost 60 of the cold weather accessories she crafted were distributed recently.

“Every day, we walk up to a faucet; every day, we go to a closet and pick out clothes,” said McHenry. “Every day, we go to the refrigerator and it’s got food in it. . . . How blessed are we? How fortunate are we?”

She knows that not everyone is as fortunate.

“We have to have gratitude [for the simple, ordinary things],” she added.

For those struggling in their prayer lives, McHenry offers this simple advice.

“Praying is like learning to play the piano,” she said. “If you see a piano in front of you, it makes noise. You press a key, and it makes a sound. But you have no idea what you’re doing.

“People have to practice to play the piano, and I think prayer needs to be practiced as well.”

About the author

Marc & Julie Anderson

Freelancers Marc and Julie Anderson are long-time contributors to the Leaven. Married in 1996, for several years the high school sweethearts edited The Crown, the former newspaper of Christ the King Parish in Topeka which Julie has attended since its founding in 1977. In 2000, the Leaven offered the couple their first assignment. Since then, the Andersons’ work has also been featured in a variety of other Catholic and prolife media outlets. The couple has received numerous journalism awards from the Knights of Columbus, National Right to Life and the Catholic Press Association including three for their work on “Think It’s Not Happening Near You? Think Again,” a piece about human trafficking. A lifelong Catholic, Julie graduated from Most Pure Heart of Mary Grade School and Hayden Catholic High School in Topeka. Marc was received into the Catholic Church in 1993 at St. Paul Parish – Newman Center at Wichita State University. The two hold degrees from Washburn University in Topeka. Their only son, William James, was stillborn in 1997.

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