Learn about the power of the Rosary
Below read the inspiring true story of how a Japanese grandmother brought her adult children back to the faith and about how their wives received the sacrament of baptism along with their children because the grandmother continually prayed the Rosary for them. The Rosary according to Sr. Lucia the seer of Fatima has the power to solve any problem no matter how difficult.

Granny Mieko
GRANNY Mieko stood no more than five feet tall. She could fit with ease under my armpit. She was a fragile wisp of a lady but with a faith as strong as steel. Born in poverty, she had married during the war years and then lost her husband just after their fifth child was born.

I got to know her when I moved to Tetori parish in Kumamoto. The Franciscan nuns who ran a leprosarium near the city gave her a job so that she was able to put her children through school. She paraded them off to church every Sunday. The children grew up but wandered away from church life, returning only for a brief visit to get married, all to non-Catholics. But Granny Mieko kept the rosary beads twisting for them. Up until then I had not met her children, but an event took place which brought me into very deep contact with them.

Mieko rang me from the hospital to tell me that her oldest son's second child, who was born prematurely three weeks earlier and was in an incubator, had taken a sudden turn for the worse and she couldn't contact the parents because they had gone out to do some shopping.

"Would it be all right if I baptise the child, Father? The doctors say it could die any minute." "Go right ahead," I said. "I'm coming over." It was about a 30 minute ride through traffic. By the time I arrived, the baby had just died, safely baptised by granny. She had also been able to contact the parents who were rushing towards the hospital unaware of the real nature of the situation. When the parents did come, they were beside themselves. They both clung desperately to me, a priest they had never met before. I held them silently as they cried their eyes out. If only I hadn't gone out shopping," the mother sobbed, "I would have been here to be with my baby." "If only I had been going to church," the father cried, "this would never have happened, would it, Father?"

The nurse came and placed the lifeless baby in the arms of the mother. Gradually they calmed down, and I was able to drive them home. In the car the mother kept rocking her dead child as she pressed it to her breast. I feel awful that I was never once able to suckle my child she sobbed. The father cried gently. Granny Mieko took out her rosary and prayed silently.

By the time we reached their home word had already spread and family members had gathered. I was able to meet two of Mieko's sons, who lived nearby, and their wives and children. Mieko's other two children lived far away and would not be coming to the funeral.

I was asked by the father to do the wake prayers the following night, and the funeral Mass the next day. It was a pitiful sight to see the little coffin holding the tiny baby. Before going home that night, I called the three brothers together for a chat. I quietly explained to them that this tragedy could be a great moment of grace for all.

"It was not because you weren't practicing your faith that this death happened. There are some things we can't explain. We must humbly admit that God gives and God takes away. The child is with God, baptised into Christ. The day after tomorrow we will have the funeral Mass. I want you all to receive Holy Communion at that Mass, but as you haven't been practicing your religion for years, please don't do it without first going to confession. It must be a real return to the church, not just for that day, to make a good impression on those present. The final decision is up to you. I believe that this moment will be one of great grace for you all!

"Father, I was always wanting to come back, but never got around to it I was too ashamed," one of them said. Next day the three of them came and asked to go to confession, with tears and humility. It was a very moving moment.

The church was packed for the funeral with Christians and non-Christians alike. Tears flowed, but for Mieko, there were tears of joy, too, because through the death and loss of her grandchild three prodigal sons had returned home to the Father's house.

That happened five or six years ago. Mieko is as faithful as ever twirling her rosary beads. But she smiles more now; she is happy. Now her three sons and one daughter are regular Mass goers. The eldest son's wife was so moved by the church's kindness that a year later she asked to be baptised with her eldest child, Keiko, who now loves singing in church. The following year the second son's wife also asked to be baptised with her two children.

"Don't leave me out in the cold," the third son's wife pleaded. She too was baptised. The eldest son's wife has since given birth to two healthy sons, so now they too run around the place at Mass time. Mieko is grinning from ear to ear. But she is not giving up on the rosary. Her other son has since made sporadic visits to the church, but still has cold feet about giving himself totally to the Lord. He hasn't a hope on earth of holding out forever, I think, with a mother like Mieko and with a little angel in heaven beckoning. He will come back to stay.

Through the death of a three-week old child, and the prayers of a five foot granny, God has indeed done mighty things. I am grateful that I was able to share in their pain and also in their joy.

Author: Fr. Joe Brooder
Published with the kind permission of:
The Far East Magazine (Victoria, Australia)
(November/December 1999 Edition)

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