By Jenna Ebener
“Father, please reunite Grandpa with Grandma,” I prayed, over and over. My grandpa’s heart rate had been at 30 for four days. I did not want him or my family to suffer any longer. Alas, God had a plan in place and it was not quite my grandpa’s time.
I have been praying nine-day Memorare novenas to Mary for over a year. When I complete one, I start a new one with a new intention. Sometimes I pray for a family member or friend; other times, I pray for a stranger or group of people who made an impact on me. Many times, I may not be directly in contact with that person and do not know what my prayers are doing. Sometimes though, something happens during that novena that shows my Mother’s influence. I have seen people have a complete change of mind about big issues and I have heard news about what I was praying for after weeks of silence. There are times that I have seen an even more direct correlation.
It just so happened that I started a new novena the day after my desperate plea to God. While I hoped it was not God’s plan for my grandpa to be in hospice care for nine more days, I started a novena for my grandpa anyway. I prayed that God’s will be done and that Mary would comfort and guide my family. My grandpa passed away four days later; the funeral was on the ninth day.
At times like these I can especially see how God is working through everyone around us, both visible and invisible to us. I know that Mary was walking with my family throughout that difficult journey. I think it was especially fitting that on the ninth day of the novena my grandpa was placed beside my grandma in the earth — my grandma, who for me was the embodiment of Mary.
Ever since I completed the “33 Days to Morning Glory” book-retreat, I have been more focused on my relationship with Mary. I rely especially on her comforting presence. I turn to her when I am overwhelmed with compassion for my students and their families and when I cannot provide the comfort they need. Then, I turn them over to Mary’s loving embrace. My daily novena has been another way for me to connect with my Mother. Even when I do not see the direct impact, I know that she hears me and is helping put something into motion.
I do not know what events are all due to prayer, but I know that prayer does make an impact whether or not we see the results. It may not always be the answer we are hoping for or the solution we are seeking, but, whatever the answer, it is following God’s beautiful plan. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7).
I find that peace each day as I place my trust in Mary and pray: Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly unto you, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother. To you I come, before you I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in your clemency hear and answer me. Amen.
(Jenna Ebener graduated in 2015 with a Master of Social Work from St. Ambrose University in Davenport.)