I always enjoy the adventure of attending Mass in a strange place. New faces, new priest, yet the wonderful familiarity of Mass surrounds. I was so happy with it all, and when the priest made an announcement that a rosary would be prayed in the chapel after Mass, I decided to join in.
Upon entering the chapel, I saw the Blessed Sacrament was exposed, so I bowed before Our Lord, then found a seat in near the back of the room.
I dug in my purse for my rosary and waited for prayer to begin. A woman approached me and asked in a whisper if I was planning to pray the rosary with the group, I nodded yes so she handed me a blue folder and asked if I would please lead the third decade.
To my left, across the aisle was a lovely older Asian woman who knelt with her eyes closed most of the time. Two rows in front of her sat a dark-haired gentleman who had the thick forearms and calloused hands of a skilled tradesman. To his left sat a man with salt and pepper hair, looking as though he were dressed for a business casual day at the office. Across the aisle to their right was another gentleman, wiry, bearded and bespectacled.
Behind him sat a beautiful African-American woman, the woman who had distributed the folders. I was alone in the row behind her.
The rosary began, led by the wiry gentleman in front. He spoke with a thick Scottish brogue, which was so unexpected it struck me as funny. He announced a novena to the Divine Infant of Prague and then asked if there were any intentions. He stated his own: that his son be healed of an auto-immune disorder.
The Asian woman in the back asked in faintly accented English for peace in her family, and prayed for her children. Something about the way she said it made me think this was weighing heavily on her heart.
The dark-haired gentleman spoke next. He had an Eastern-European accent, and announced his intention to pray for the healing of his family tree and for the ministry of a particular priest located somewhere in Virginia.
Mr. Salt and Pepper spoke. He was praying for his children and an unspoken intention. I speculated that he was from the central Midwest, likely Ohio.
The woman in front of me spoke in a deep, rich voice. She too was praying for her children.
It was a surreal, beautiful moment. We, who were all so different in outward appearances and from the sounds of it, from all corners of the globe, had ended up in this tiny chapel to pray before the Lord.
This might be expected in an international place of pilgrimage like Lourdes, Fatima, Knock or Kibeho.
But Las Vegas?!
This was not Sunday, and it was not a holy day of obligation.
These were people who really and truly wanted to be with Jesus. Had we been in an elevator, perhaps there may have been a polite nod among a few of us. I couldn’t think of anywhere else where the diverse group might congregate in such an intimate manner.
I will never forget that rosary. It was perhaps the most beautiful rosary I have ever had the privilege of praying. All of the different accents melted into one voice as we sang an Ave Maria after each Fatima prayer.
We were all God’s children, asking Our Father for the same thing – for His peace and healing for our loved ones.
We were all so different.
We were all the same.