I’ve only been asked once to say the rosary in public. It was about three years ago and I was sitting on a bus going to the west of Ireland when I heard the call. It came from a wonderful woman much loved in our parish. She was in her late eighties and shouted, “Hi Frank, you’re good on the microphone, get up to the front of the bus and call out the rosary, we’re almost here.”
The imminent destination was Knock Shrine in Co Mayo and apparently pilgrims going there say the rosary as they get close to the village. The difference this day, however, was we weren’t pilgrims. We were retired footballers on a weekend away in the west.
We would be eating, drinking, singing and dancing. Knock was a very pleasant comfort stop but this wasn’t a pilgrimage.
There were a few passengers including the elderly lady who understandably saw Knock as the main attraction but most of the group laughed heartily at the suggestion of Father Frank at the front of the bus.
I was going to politely refuse but then I realised what it meant to this lovely woman, and I obliged. To be honest I’m glad I did.
In fairness I kept it short. The rosary can be a heavy slog. There are 50 Hail Marys.
I remember it being said in our house when I was young, kneeling with my head buried in a cushion on the sofa praying for it to end.
You have to be very dedicated to say it on a regular basis, but many families still do.
On the other hand, growing numbers now ignore the tradition and this is no surprise as Catholic devotion is dwindling for a variety of reasons including the church’s attitude to women.
They are not treated as equal in the eyes of the church and until that is addressed, it, like many other faiths, is open to ridicule. Derry Girls is the most recent comedy to belittle the Catholic Church and while the series in one of the funniest I’ve seen there is no escaping the points being scored against the institution.
Attitudes towards women were brought into sharp focus this week with the murder of Tullamore school teacher Ashling Murphy. There has been a loud plea from women asking men to show them proper respect at all levels and sadly that respect was missing during a rosary that was said in Limerick last weekend.
A group of men who often pray the rosary loudly in public refused to lower the volume during a vigil which was being held close by.
Whatever your view on women’s rights, using the rosary as a weapon to offend a gathering marking the death of a young woman is a shameful act.
Those men who disrespect the rights of a woman to be a woman and live equally as a woman should give some consideration to the woman they pray so loudly to. If Mary, the mother of Christ, who I turn to with every problem, was back on earth today she would be banned from being a priest, a bishop, a cardinal or a pope.
It’s time for people with a voice to do all in their power to call out anti-female bias in all its forms.
It may be in a sporting organisation, a blue-chip company, a corner shop, a political party or a What’s App group.
Wherever you see it you should challenge it and maybe with time those who refuse to accept that equality is essential in society will begin to not only listen but to act in a way that leads to women being fully respected, properly treated and totally safe as they get on with their busy lives.
Frank presents U105 Phone In Monday-Friday from 9am-noon