Most grandmothers today are old enough to remember the Soviet Union (if only for their formidable athletes at the Olympic Games), and most were aware of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Before the advent of smart phones, we saw the jubilant images on our television screens and heard the wonder in the voices of the journalists. Peter Jennings called it “an astonishing moment in history;” and Tom Brokaw saw it as “mind-boggling.” And in human terms it was.
Against a spiritual backdrop, though, there is a little more to the story. We know that there was a meeting of minds between President Ronald Reagan, who encountered communism in the Screen Actors Guild, and Pope John Paul II, who had lived under communist oppression most of his life, which allowed prudent political moves to be undergirded with prayer and sacrifice. Hence, in the fullness of time, the unthinkable became thinkable; indeed it was our own magnificent illustration of the upending of an empire, the likes of which were steady fare in the Old Testament.
Of course, the pope was not alone in praying for the downfall of an atheistic regime. Closing churches and banning prayer doesn’t put an end to the heartfelt desires for spiritual goods. Alexander Solzhenitsyn found fervent faith in the gulags, and outside those grim edifices most credit the babushkas with steadfast prayer for the yoke of suffering to end. Richard Marcantonio, in a lovely piece, “Remembering the Babushkas,” explains that baba is Russian for elderly woman, and iyushka means small or fragile. Together, the term idiomatically means grandma, to which he quips: “Elderly, yes; fragile? Hardly. The babushkas were the tough ones who did whatever they could to keep the flame of faith burning during those terrible years. They are a testament to the kind of faith so desperately needed today.”
In that spirit, I am launching a prayer project for our own [ahem] mature women, specifically those who are empty-nesters and have finished the bulk of their work in the family, but who naturally remain tied by those maternal heartstrings. If we learned anything, there is more to loving our children and grandchildren (and of course nieces, nephews) than the just details of their own lives. We get drawn into the drama of their friends and neighbors, their co-workers, and looser social circles. Of course we take such things to prayer — I am merely offering a bit of organization to the project before us.
At my website, feminine-genius.com there is a tab, Domus Aurea, which means “House of Gold.” The name of this apostolate is based on that title of the Blessed Mother from the litany, gold being an element forged in the fire — and who among us cannot relate to the suffering inherently attached to love? The brief daily intentions include prayers for healthy friendships for the young, holy and stable marriages, reconciliation and healing, vocations and the needs of priests, and the need to give glory to God in all things — even amidst the trials of life. There are also prayers for the sick, prayers to help prepare for a holy death, and a devotion to the Seven Sorrows of Our Lady.
We know that despite the wise pope’s constant warnings to the contrary, the Eastern Block rushed headlong into the materialistic excesses of the West, and now all of what was known as Christendom is beset by the natural confusion that reigns when the call to holiness is rejected out of hand. Our young people are awash in festively packaged lies, and even many of those old enough to know better have forgotten themselves in the chaos. Rather than undermining our faith, the madness all around us should confirm our understanding that only by knowing our eternal end will we know the right path each day. How can we expect order in a society composed of those whose lives are so gravely disordered?
There is ordering information for the booklets at that site, or you can call the publisher in New Hope, KY at 270-325-3061. Kindly spread the word to other women you know — those who understand the power of prayer — and we can knit together a chorus of loving voices begging God to lead our dear ones to a better place. And let us pray with confidence, for scripture also shows that God rewards those who persist in their supplications.
Anchor columnist Genevieve Kineke is the author of “The Authentic Catholic Woman.” She blogs at feminine-genius. com.