We had been in the same class at secondary school. She was then a beautiful, extremely lively teenager, and quite popular. Her family was well-off: her father, a successful businessman. All along the years she spent at school with me, she had been burdened with the responsibility of three younger siblings, but she managed them admirably, though somewhat strictly.
I met her again after many years at a school reunion for ex-pupils. We sat happily at the same table, and talked: rather, she talked, and I listened. She had much more to say than I. Unlike me, she had married, and her three children were now young adults, with good jobs. However, she was soon telling me of the bitter disappointment her marriage was to her.
Her children, especially two of them, girls, behaved quite unlovingly. She was old-fashioned enough to expect them to help in the home, as she had done, but they never did. It was always time to go to the beach, or somewhere else, or they brought some other excuse. Their rooms were always topsy-turvy. This lack of sensitivity on their part was rendering their mother very unhappy, and, on account of their “irresponsible behaviour”, there was continual bickering even between herself and their father.
What could I, single, teacher, catechist, say to all this? I felt there was only one thing I could say, that could, perhaps, give her some hope, and bring her comfort:
“We need to pray. Prayer never goes unheeded.”
She paused, then looked at me with sad eyes, and said something, which though commonplace, has remained with me all these long years. In a subdued voice, she whispered:
“You know, in my family we never pray. We never find time for it.”