Helen Rogers King, the mother of my husband, Michael, had Alzheimer’s for sixteen years. We watched her pass from a vibrant mother of four men to a woman who did not even know her husband. She and Captain David L. G. King met at the Shipyard Commander’s office on Mare Island, between San Francisco and Oakland CA. Captain King’s ship was undergoing repair shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack. They were married one month later.
Helen, a Protestant, regularly took her four sons to church. Despite this observance, she was a woman who never discussed her faith. She likely viewed religion as a private affair. So when she died, it suddenly hit me that I truly did not know if she had made Jesus the King of her heart or not.
Jesus did, beyond a shadow of a doubt, reign in the heart and mind of Mabel Riggs Dunfee, a Presbyterian from West Virginia and my grandmother. If I had to put my finger on someone who shaped my life through her faithful prayers, it would be her. Even today, when I see a pink sky, my thoughts recall how Mabel wanted to float away on a pink cloud when she died. Well she did just about float away on a cloud when she passed away at nearly 102; so each pink sky reminds me of her presence near me and her prayers for me.
When Helen died, I needed to know that she was with Jesus, but I did not know how I could find out. As I knew Mabel was in heaven, I tried an experiment to prove Helen’s location via my daughter Hannah. Hannah, our third child, was at Eastern Washington University near Spokane WA, and I was very concerned about her spiritual condition. Without knowing much about The Communion of Saints, as I was not a Catholic at the time, I said to Mabel, “If Helen is up there with you, I want the two of you to get together and pray that Hannah will ask Jesus into her heart.” Within two weeks, Hannah made Jesus her Savior and I knew that Helen was now part of the Communion of Saints.
So when I came into the Catholic Church in 2009, I began to understand that I have an army of prayer warriors. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states it thus: 956– Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness…. They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us, as they proffer the merits which they acquired on earth through the one mediator between God and men, Christ Jesus…. So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped.” Or as St. Dominic, dying to his brothers stated, “Do not weep, for I shall be more useful to you after my death and I shall help you then more effectively than during my life”
When people ask me to pray for them, I immediately turn the prayers over to my Blessed Mother as I would to our stockbroker. She is my constant prayer warrior on duty at all times. Yes, I will write the prayers down in my little prayer book, and I will say them as I pray my Rosary, but I know that Mary will be constantly praying for that person’s needs. What a comfort!! I know too that it says in Revelation 5:8 (RSV) “And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and with golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints….” What is in those bowls except the prayers which we ask the saints to pray for us. Just because my grandmother Mabel isn’t on this earth anymore doesn’t mean she isn’t still praying; she surely is, and her prayers are helping fill those bowls.
Giving those prayers to the Communion of Saints, so great a cloud of witnesses, reminds me of the beautiful statue of The Blessed Mother that Mrs. Betsy Miller gave my fifth child for her first communion. At the bottom of the statue is a little drawer where one can place prayers. When I hand my prayers to Our Blessed Mother and to The Communion of Saints, my concerns are constantly being offered up, and I can live each day more fully for Him.