“Glorious, Joyful, Sorrowful; Glorious, Joyful, Sorrowful; Glorious.” Sunday, Monday, Tuesday; Wednesday, Thursday, Friday; Saturday. The week of the rosary, as I remember it (and before some changes made in 2002): My liturgical week began on Sunday and ended on Saturday. Within each of the “mysteries” of the rosary is the subdivision of five, and…, and…, and . . . :

Glorious Mysteries: Resurrection, Ascension, Assumption…. Joyful Mysteries: Annunciation, Visitation, Nativity…. Sorrowful Mysteries: Agony, Scourging, Crowning, Carrying, Crucifixion–as some readers will remember them.

The complexity of the religion of the rosary I had to learn early on, as an up-and-coming Roman Catholic boy. And so it goes–or went.

All of this complexity came to mind recently as I tried to organize the top drawer of my dresser: My Sock Drawer.

The drawer was a mess: things everywhere, in addition to matched and unmatched pairs of socks (a pair of socks; pairs of socks) and those lost in the jumble and tumble, without a “mate.”

As I began to try to bring order to the chaos, I noted my small pile of keys and key rings in the left-front corner. Unknown keys for unknown locks. The keys are just “there.” Receipts. And more receipts, where I neatly stack them in the right-front corner: gasoline, Walgreen’s drugs, Target, Wal-Mart, miscellaneous.

Whistles, some non-USA-In-God-We-Trust coins thrown in the back left corner; an assortment of various business cards: clinic physicians, library; Kermit Weeks, “Fantasy of Flight: An Attraction of a Higher Plane” (closed for now); “Honorary Consul of the Slovak Republic–Florida” (!); lawyers’ cards. That’s the place where I keep them.

I found under the socks–after I emptied out the drawer–a package of postcards: 37 1-cent and 15 2-cent (a total of 67 cents. Easy math). I probably bought these at a garage sale. 

Handkerchiefs, in the left corner, were overlaying the keys. Monogramed, old-white, linen, camouflage. Those extras, ready for a right-rear pocket of slacks or jeans or wash pants. (“A gentleman always carries a handkerchief,” I was taught. [Somewhere, stapled or pasted in one of my old journals, is one such handkerchief, neatly folded, pressed between the pages, with stains of mascara. A handkerchief used by the first co-ed ever who was brought to tears, in my college office, “way-back-when-in-the-day.” I cannot remember what made her cry. I cannot remember the reason for her tears. I am sure it had nothing to do with me.])

And, finally, the rosary I found, in the left-back corner.

rosary in crystalRosary Found, with Crystal Beads

Crystal beads, sterling cross and medal. My mom’s rosary that I’ve had for some five years since her passing on. Now I have cleaned it and polished it. And there it rests.

Still, not the rosary itself but the “links” which came out of this rosary-discovery brought more memories: recalling catechism classes, using the rosary with all its intricacies of prayer methods, and having sore knees in chapel during rosary-recitation time.

However, one anecdote figures prominently above all others I associate with the rosary. No, not prayer-beaded mantras, like “pray for us sinners” or “blessed be the fruit of thy womb.” (Explain that one to a first-grade boy!) But, rather, it is hearing Sister Mary Philip, RSM, telling me one morning to see her after lunch. “I need you to see my sister.”

I was to become a mule, a runner (“Slang: a person paid to carry or transport contraband, especially drugs, for a smuggler.”).

Somehow, for some reason unknown to me, Sister Mary (always add the “Mary” out of respect) Philip, RSM, singled me out from my other 8th grade classmates to do “The Deed.” I was a purveyor of goods, the middleman. My reward (now, not in some afterlife) was delight and jubilation. I would miss an afternoon of classwork. Did nothing of note happen after lunch? History? Art? Music? Reading? Ah, that’s it: Silent reading. I could run errands during Silent Reading, for I was a good reader. I could miss school.

Approaching her desk, I was told to get my coat. She gave me a piece of paper with some directions, a small change purse, and, as she adjusted her Religious-Sister-of-Mercy habit, told me to be on my way. “Godspeed,” or something like that.

sisters-of-mercySister of Mercy, RSM

I had a duty; I was on a mission: to conduct an errand, leaving and returning by the end of the school day. Off I went . . . with no food or snack, no backpack, just directions and a change purse with money for the Chicago transit system, the CTA.

There I was, making my way then to the “L,” exiting at the 47th Street stop (a few stops before Sox Park-Comiskey Park).

47thSign47th Street “L” Sign

From the “L” platform, I went down the stairs to the ticket booth/fare collector’s station.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFare Collector Booth from Chicago “L”.org

There sat Sister Mary Philip’s sister. Only for the first time, I told her I was there for the package. She gave me a little paper bag, and a candy bar. With the package and CTA transfer in hand, I was on my way back to my school.

Often I made the trip, sometimes twice a month, receiving the goods: hand-assembled homemade rosaries. Colored beads, black beads, crystal beads; large and small silver crucifixes–all carefully wrapped, such beautiful work, as my 8th grade teacher would show me at my return.

I walked back to my desk, my classmates wondering where I had been.

“My Life with the Rosary” is certainly interesting for me, with so many memories of a time when…. I doubt any others can relate such a story (except, perhaps, those who followed after me in Sister Mary Philip’s classes chosen to do “The Deed”).

What I learned from all this is what a teacher’s pet I really was. How responsible I must have been considered–or, at least, appeared to be. I will not even mention here “child labor,” liability insurance, accountability, and other such topics. What did I know then? What if something happened on my trips? Nevertheless, I do know it was all a pretty good deal for me.

I was able to engage in one of my favorite pastimes: riding the Chicago “L.” So, in a way, I was getting paid to have fun.

oh-the-places-youll-go novelreaction.comOh, The Places I Have Been

Never did I realize how true for me. All because of the Holy Rosary.

How Glorious and Joyful it all was!

© James F. O’Neil 2015



  1. Oh, the glorious honor of being Teacher’s Pet. =) But goodness, that was a large mission. Times were safer then, though. We have one such drawer, btw. I tamed it 3 yrs after getting the house. Felt reborn.

    • Thank you. Times were “safer” then. What has happened? It was the best of times…?

  2. Long ago I wrote about my bottom drawer. Now I have done the top drawer. The other two are not worth mentioning, one being “the unmentionables.” :o) All drawers are now cleaned and organized.

  3. Sometimes I get Catholic-envy. Whenever I enter a cathedral like St. Peter’s or Notre Dame — so soulful they seem. The Rosery invokes envy, too — I want one! (And I suppose that envy is a sin, too.)

    • Long ago I wrote about my bottom drawer. Now I have done the top drawer. The other two are not worth mentioning, one being “the unmentionables.” :o) All drawers are now cleaned and organized.

      • I need to figure out the “Reply” process. Thanks for the comment. Long hours spent on my knees. I know many who still are avid followers of the rosary machinations. It’s complex–like meditation.

  4. Felt like such a voyeur reading of all the things you found in your drawer. It made me want to go upstairs and start rifling through mine. :). I know I won’t find a rosary since I’m not a Catholic, but I wonder what treasures I would find??

  5. Such a lovely memory! I haven’t said the rosary since my early childhood and would hardly be considered catholic anymore, but my grandmother and grandfathers rosaries are two of my most cherished possessions. There is something beautiful about them all. I have a small collection of them that I have acquired over my lifetime including two from my own childhood. One really cool one I have is only about six inches long with a ring on the end–you say the length of it, then move it to the next finger until you have done each finger and the rosary is completed. On the island here, it is common for folks to gather for an evening of saying the rosary, all in Irish, so I have only joined a couple times, really just for the experience of it all. I always enjoy your posts James. 🙂

    • Jam said:

      The blog did just what I hoped it would: share my experiences and allow/let others have their memories, for good or ill. Praying was not always easy. And I have always remembered it, no matter what. Thank you for the kind words. AND I just found out, through ACORN, what a Aran sweater was. Regards.

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