Leaven Blog

Why sing “Happy Birthday” when you can heal the world?

by Jill Ragar Esfeld

When I was a kid, I loved the Popeye cartoon and would drive my mom crazy every afternoon asking when it would be on television.

I had a pretty good gauge of when it was about to start, but I couldn’t yet tell time. So, my mom would tell me how many Hail Marys I had to say until Popeye started.

My mom was a genius that way. Whenever we would bug her about how much time was left before something happened — when is dinner? when will Dad get home? are we almost there? — she would tell us how many Our Fathers, Hail Marys or Apostle’s Creeds we had to say.

We got really good at timing prayers and I’ve continued that habit all of my life. I know it takes 17 minutes to say five decades of the rosary. I know 15 decades will get me through a root canal or an MRI.

I know it takes about 10 seconds to say a Hail Mary and 20 seconds for an Our Father.

So, when the news media started its hand-washing instruction by telling people to recite “Happy Birthday” twice, I thought, why? What a waste of time!

Why sing “Happy Birthday” in your head when you could be healing the world through prayer?

Think about it. You could start a rosary each week dedicated to the healing of coronavirus and with one Our Father a hand wash, two Hail Marys a hand wash, you could make significant progress on that rosary.

Why not aim for two decades a day? The Glory Be and Fatima prayer together take 20 seconds to complete your decades.

Think of it! The Memorare takes exactly 20 seconds to say. Over the next nine days, you can complete a novena to our Blessed Virgin for healing just by saying it one time a day — while doing something you have to do anyway.

So here is a list of prayers most Catholics have memorized that can be said in 20 seconds.

  • Our Father
  • Hail Mary twice
  • Apostle’s Creed *
  • The Memorare *
  • Glory Be * and Fatima Prayer *
  • Hail, Holy Queen *
  • Act of Contrition * plus a Glory Be *
  • Morning Offering *
  • Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel *
  • Anima Christi *
  • Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel * plus a Glory Be *
  • Guardian Angel prayer * twice

Why not memorize a prayer for Lent and use it as your “hand washing” prayer? Here are two: Each takes take about 20 seconds to say. By saying them while you wash your hands, you could save a soul in purgatory or heal the world – or both!

Prayer for the Souls in Purgatory

O gentle Heart of Jesus, ever present in the Blessed Sacrament, ever consumed with burning love for the poor captive souls in Purgatory, have mercy on them.

Be not severe in your judgments, but let some drops of your precious Blood fall upon the devouring flames

And Merciful savior, sent your angels to conduct them to a place of refreshment, light and peace, Amen.

Prayer for the Sick

Dear Jesus, Divine Physician and Healer of the sick, we turn to you in this time of illness. O dearest comforter of the troubled, alleviate our worry and sorrow with your gentle love and grant us the grace and strength to accept this burden.

Dear God, we place our worries in your hands. We place our sick under your care and humbly ask that you restore your servant to health again.

Above all, grant us the grace to acknowledge your holy will and know that whatsoever you do, you do for the love of us.

Listed Prayers *

The Memorare (Remember)

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored they help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence I fly unto thee O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother. To thee I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Glory Be (Doxology)

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning is now, and every shall be world without end. Amen.

Fatima Prayer

O my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those who have most need of thy mercy.

Hail, Holy Queen

Hail, Holy Queen, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope. To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve. To thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this valley of tears. Turn, then most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

Act of Contrition (traditional version)

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because of thy just punishment, but most of all because they offend Thee, my God, who art all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve with the help of thy grace to sin no more and to avoid the near occasion of sin. Amen.

Morning Offering

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, for the salvation of souls, the reparation for sins, the reunion of all Christians, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month. Amen.

Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly pray. And do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, thrust into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who wander the earth seeking the ruin of souls. Ame3n.

Anima Christi (Soul of Christ)

Soul of Christ, be my sanctification. Body of Christ, be my salvation. Blood of Christ, fill all my veins. Water of Christ’s side, wash out my stains. Passion of Christ, my comfort be. O good Jesu, listen to me. In Thy wounds I fain would hide, Ne’er to be parted from thy side, Guard me, should the foe assail me. Call me when my life shall fail me. Bid me come to Thee above, With Thy saints to sing Thy love, World without end. Amen.

Guardian Angel prayer

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom God’s love commit me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide. Amen.

(Source: United States Catholic Catechism for Adults, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2006)

About the author

Jill Esfeld

Jill Ragar Esfeld received a degree in Writing from Missouri State University and started her profession as a magazine feature writer, but quickly transitioned to technical/instructional writing where she had a successful career spanning more than 20 years. She returned to feature writing when she began freelancing for The Leaven in 2004. Her articles have won several awards from the Catholic Press Association. Jill grew up in Christ the King parish in Kansas City, Missouri; and has been a member of Holy Trinity Parish in Lenexa, Kansas, for 35 years.

Leave a Comment