By Fr. Aeden McGrath
Before I had come in (the Chinese
prison), while I was in the Catholic Central Bureau (in Shanghai,
China), a Jesuit priest from Canton had sent me a Legion of Mary
leaflet, giving a method of the rosary for those in factories
or for those who had not an opportunity to use their rosary beads.
The title of that little rosary method was "A Method of Saying
the Rosary for Each Hail Mary."
The idea was this: There was a thought
for each Hail Mary, so that when you got to the last thought,
you said the Glory Be, and it was not necessary to count on your
To give you an idea of the method,
let us take the third Joyful Mystery: the Nativity. The first
Hail Mary is Mary and Joseph leave the house at Nazareth. The
second is Mary and Joseph arrive in Bethlehem. The third, they
are refused entry in the inn. Fourth, they go outside the city.
Fifth, Jesus is born in the stable. Sixth, the angels appear to
the shepherds. Seventh, the shepherds bearing lambs went to adore
Jesus. Eighth, the star of Bethlehem appears in the east. Ninth,
the three wise men arrive in Jerusalem. And tenth, the shepherd
and the king kneel and adore the Child Jesus. When you get to
your last picture, you just say Glory Be without having to think
of them or anything else.
At first, to me, it seemed a little
confusing, and I did not use it myself, but I got it translated,
printed and sent it all over China. And the Chinese loved it.
Before I was arrested, I gave it to a lady in Shanghai, and she
was delighted with it.
"Father," she said, "I
always like to say the rosary while I am knitting. As I can't
use my beads, I used to mark out nine chairs in my room, and then
I had a piano. I'd look at each chair, as I said each Hail Mary.
When I got to the piano, then I'd say Glory Be. But, now, when
closing my eyes, I can do my knitting and think of the pictures.
It is wonderful."
In prison, I had no beads, and I
could not easily use my fingers, so I thought out that method.
I thought out the 10 distinct pictures in each decade, each being
in a sequence, so that when the last picture appeared, I then
said Glory Be. It was those pictures that I made out for myself.
It was the best method I ever used for keeping one's attention
on the mysteries and the parts of the rosary.
I explained that method to George,
my Chinese friend, but my pictures wouldn't satisfy him.
"No, no, no. Tell me the stories,
and I'll make my own," he said.
I told him the Gospel stories, and
he made his own 150 pictures. I remember coming to the Glorious
Mysteries, which were a little bit difficult to find pictures
for when Mary dies and goes up to Heaven.
"What were yours?" I said.
"Oh," he said. "We
had a Chinese feast up there, and we had chopsticks and wine and
Our Lady was drinking at the crowning in Heaven."
George and I used to say the rosary
together. In fact, we said nine rosaries every day. During my
interrogations, when I got very little sleep, I found it very
difficult to say the rosary.
The moment I stepped outside the
cell for interrogation, my hands were cuffed behind my back, so
tight that my hands swelled until I lost all feeling. In the interrogation
room upstairs, I had to stand for hours, answering questions.
The armed guard kept me covered all the time.
For one stretch of two weeks, I was
questioned nearly every night and every day. After being on my
feet before some browbeating judge most of the night, I was forbidden
to sleep in the cell during the day. If my head nodded, as I sat
on the floor beside my fellow prisoners, the guard would yell
at me through the bars. The punishment for falling asleep was
an order to stand in the cell.
One day, when I was giving out the
Hail Marys in one decade, I felt a nudging in my side.
"Father," my friend said.
"Say the Gloria."
I knew I must have said too many,
but I did not know how many.
"Glory be," I said, "to
the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in
the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen."
George did not say anything until
I finished the rosary, then he turned around to me.
"Father," he said, "you
taught me 10 pictures for each decade, and, mind you, they weren't
easy to find. How did you have 17 pictures for that last decade?"
I blushed, confessing that I had
not even had one picture, that I was asleep, and both of us began
to laugh. But from that day on, I was so sleepy and so tired that
nudging with his elbow became part of each decade…
Perseverance through Faith, A
Priest' Prison Story, by T.M. Moreau, 2008, pp. 67-68)