By Barb Arland-Fye
An email arrived Sept. 6 inviting me to participate in eucharistic adoration and recitation of the rosary Sept. 7 at my parish in response to Pope Francis designating that day for prayer and fasting. While desiring to participate, I had a family dilemma. My son Colin would need a ride to Mass from his apartment in Davenport, and I was his designated driver. If I were to attend the prayer service, he would have to accompany me. How many times have doctors and others warned me that individuals with autism need to be prepared for changes in plans?
On Saturday morning, Sept. 7, I called Colin and told him about the prayer service for the people of Syria. He’s been following the crisis closely and knows that our family believes peaceful measures offer the best solution.
When I asked if he wanted to accompany me, he said, “I’ll think about it.” “But we don’t have time to think about it because it’s today,” I said.
“I have to watch my movie,” he responded. “Couldn’t you watch your movie a little earlier, so that it ends by the time I get to your apartment?” He agreed that might be OK, so I talked to his staffer to help ensure that we could pull off this change in schedule.
Colin and I arrived at Our Lady of the River Church in LeClaire almost on time, and sat down to pray quietly before the Eucharist. Every once in a while I’d glance toward my 26-year-old son, who was paging through the missalette. He’d look up and smile at me, a sure sign that he appreciated this quiet time of prayer in his church! Ten years ago, we’d never have been able to manage an hour of prayer followed by an hour of Mass. He would have become distracted and distracting.
Truth be told, I haven’t mastered the discipline of sustained silent prayer, simply being present to God for longer than 15 minutes. I’ve always had a need to recite prayers, pray spontaneously or from Scripture or Liturgy of the Hours. I eagerly awaited recitation of the rosary and love the rhythm of the prayer.
But observing Colin completely at peace during silent prayer made me feel, somehow, closer to him.
In the homily Pope Francis gave during a four-hour liturgy Sept. 7 in St. Peter’s Square, he observed that “In the silence of the cross, the uproar of weapons ceases and the language of reconciliation, forgiveness and dialogue and peace is spoken.”
In the silence of the cross at Our Lady of the River, Colin and I experienced an unspoken peace.
When it was time to pray the rosary, Colin joined in because the rosary is part of our family’s tradition.
Several times that night — before and after dinner — Colin asked me whether we should pray the rosary on the way back to his apartment, a Fye tradition on Saturday and Sunday nights. I told him it was probably OK to skip it this one night, even though it breaks tradition. He was OK with that answer, as long as he could ask me about it a couple of more times and get the same answer. Our experience served as another reminder for me that peace has to begin in the family.