Continuum Archives


What Memorare means to me

Robbie Earle photo 1

This prayer to the Virgin Mary has helped me through some very difficult times

By Bob Haaser

Now that I've lived for more than 60 years, the Memorare has become one of my most important and powerful prayers. It wasn't always that way.

Growing up in Little Rock AR, I attended a Catholic parochial school taught by Benedictine nuns. In the elementary grades, we learned our Baltimore catechism and the basic prayers of the Catholic faith – the Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.

As we entered junior high, our class periodically said the rosary (which I had learned at home from my mother), and the nuns did quite a good job teaching us to sing Latin High Masses and Funeral Masses.

Obviously, we were given a good start on the spiritual road to a prayer life.

In high school, the separate Catholic boys' and girls' schools would occasionally meet at one of the area parishes for a social or a special Mass. Before the event was over, the girls always found time to pray the Memorare.

For a teenage boy who was much more interested in solid, basic, and shorter prayers, the Hail Mary had much more appeal.

The language of this longer prayer seemed a bit flowery or feminine (e.g., "I fly unto thee" and "to thee do I come, before thee I stand").

Although I knew the prayer, I did not return to it for many years. Emergency situations call for drastic actions, and some very serious prayer time.

Two of my three children were involved in "falling accidents." Each spent some time in the hospital. As all young parents know, you are totally helpless in that situation. You sit beside the hospital bed, holding your child's hand and watching the monitors.

There is a knot in your stomach and a numbness which pervades your whole body. You say as many formal and informal prayers as possible.

It was during these desperate times that I returned to the Memorare: "Remember ... that never was it known, that anyone ... was left unaided."

I petitioned Mary for many things, both large and small, while my children were growing up, and I felt that she always answered my prayers.

In the last year, I lost both of my parents. I was blessed to be able to visit Dad and Mom shortly before they died.

I was able to help give Dad his last shower, and participated in a tearful Last Rites service in the hospital ICU for Mom. In each case, I silently prayed the Memorare in their presence, asking Mary to present their souls to her Son at the gates of heaven, concluding with "despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me."

Those experiences were so powerful that I decided to add the Memorare to the Form V daily morning prayers. It is the hope of this old form master that his boys will be just as well served by this prayer in their times of trouble and distress.

He has every confidence that they will!

Bob Haaser is in his 41st year at Cistercian.

Editor's note: The school's planned giving program, The Memorare Society, is named after this prayer.