Posted in Raised Catholic, Spiritual Practices

When All Else Fails: Hail Mary!

This morning’s blog reminds us of the value of rote repetition and mantra prayer, especially during times when all else seems to fail us. (also explored in this week’s issue of The Agape’ Project)

Over the Top Stress

I’m not sure if it is the universe, earth changes, hormones, perimenopause, or just “stuff happens,” but on Thursday of this week I found myself in the biggest ball of stress I have experienced in a LONG TIME!  Rampant anxiety, worry, obsessive thoughts, out of nowhere tears.  In a nutshell….I was a mess.  Such a mess in fact, that no matter how hard I tried, I simply could not fall asleep.  It reminded me of the times in my childhood and even into adulthood when I found myself sleepless due to the marathon being run in my over-active brain.  It was a feeling I had not experienced in a very long time.


As I struggled with whatever that energy was on Thursday, I employed all the tactics I know for relaxation, returning to rational thought, restoring peace.  NOTHING worked.  I went for a walk.  I meditated.  I listened to music.  I journalled.  I allowed myself to be present to my tears, etc.  I even added some magnesium to my evening nutrition.  NOTHING WORKED.  Then, when I thought the repose of sleep would help, I found it only got worse.  Tossing and turning in bed, restless and stupid thoughts in my head, worry, anxiousness, feelings of being emotionally bereft.  Again I tried everything….breathing exercises, thinking “happy” thoughts.  Again NOTHING!  In a fit of desperation, I pulled open the drawer in my bedside table and rummaged around for my rosary.  Perhaps the only tool that helped me during my childhood would provide relief for 47 year old Lauri.  At the bottom of the drawer, shoved into the back corner, buried under lotion, chapstick, incense sticks and a bag of rocks I found it. Running my fingers over the beads, I began to pray:  Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee…..  I’m not sure how many decades I ended up praying, but my thoughts must have finally cleared for when my alarm sounded in the morning, I awoke with the rosary still clutched in my fist, the red crystal beads wrapped around my fingers.

When All Else Fails

Thursdays experience reminded me of the value in the tried and true, specifically in prayers of rote repetition and mantra.  As a child, the Hail Mary was always my go-to prayer.  When I was frightened, feeling alone or sleepless, I turned to our Divine Mother for intercession and comfort by invoking this prayer. As an adult, I turned to this prayer during times of crisis like the day I was held up at gun point outside my downtown Minneapolis apartment, or when I found myself caught in a wind and hailstorm with my two babies in the car.  Perhaps it is the familiarity of the prayer, nostalgia, or the rhythm that is created by rote repetition, but for whatever reason, these are the kinds of prayers that seem to be of greatest assistance when it seems all other methods of stress-relief, meditation or prayer just don’t seem to work.

An Invitation

As an exercise today, I would invite you to explore your own repetoire of spiritual tools in search of “the tried and true.”  What is it that you can turn to when all else fails?  Maybe it is the rosary, the Hail Mary, the Lord’s Prayer.  Perhaps it is a Sanskrit mantra or the Hebrew Kaddish.  Or maybe it is just a single word – love, peace, Jesus.  Whatever that “tried and true” might be, I invite you to acknowledge it and put it in your hip pocket (or the drawer of your bedside table) so it is ready to use when all else seems to fail.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries


I am a trained, professional Spiritual Director, Author and Hands-on Healer. I offer services, programs and classes that empower you to hear the voice of the Divine that speaks from within you. It is the voice of the Divine that leads us to our highest truth, to the discovery and cultivation of our gifts and to a life of Authentic Freedom where we know contentment, compassion and joy. Your truth will set you free!

One thought on “When All Else Fails: Hail Mary!

  1. Mine is from a Russian Orthodox text for Hesychasts, known as the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
    Thank you for reminding me of this style of prayerful meditation.

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