I was in Sunday School one day, a someone in class told us
about a Catholic belief that if you went to sleep with a rosary
under your pillow, you would go straight to heaven if you
died. I don't know if a student told the class or the teacher
himself, but no one could refute this, so I believed it with
every ounce of my being. The opposite thought, that if you
didn't do this, even if you had led the most saintly life
imaginable but had no access to a rosary, of course meant
that you were going straight to hell. This didn't occur to
me until much later after I lay in bed with no rosary in sight.
lay awake staring at the top bunk, the room mostly dark and
the sound of my brother's breathing. I couldn't sleep with
this going through my head. I don't have rosary under my pillow,
so I must be going straight to hell if I die. Over and over,
this went, in my 10 year old mind. I don't want to go to hell,
I thought. Plus it's just a simple thing to do, right? Just
put it under your pillow and you're fine! I knew that I had
one in my dresser, so that's what I did feeling its reassuring
presence under my pillow. I breathed a huge sigh of relief,
smiling as I started to nod off.
even if I die in a fire tonight, I'm set, I thought. No problem!
I'll wake up and be in heaven because I haven't done anything
really wrong and I did remember the rosary. Saint Peter would
see me at the gates of heaven, look up and see that I had
my rosary and I'd waltz right on in there. Plus the rest of
my family will be there and --
NO! I gasped! The rest of my family! If they die, I'll go
to heaven, but they're going to hell! I've got to make sure
that they do the same thing. I sat up, narrowly missing my
head on the top bunk (but safe because I had my rosary under
my pillow). I ran downstairs into the den where my parents
asking them, I started rummaging through the drawers in the
living room. I knew we had a bunch of them in one of these
drawers, probably near these bibles, no maybe in this drawer...
There's one, that's fine, there's another. I counted two extra.
I still needed at least 3 more. I knew we had to have more
in the house! Plus I needed one for the dog, too! That's 4
more rosaries! I wonder if Mom and Dad can share?
I did peer wildly in the den. My parents were watching television
and I tried to explain to them why I needed 3, no 4 rosaries.
My Mom said that we probably had enough for everyone, but
that she was sure that we didn't need to search for them all
right now. We could think about it in the morning.
burst into tears, two rosaries in one hand, one in the other
(and one under my pillow) and told her that if the whole family
was going to Hell, then I was, too and that I didn't need
one under my pillow!
going to Hell?" my father asked, distracted by the news.
"What's the matter?"
My mother held me and in between small giggles explained that
she was sure we were good people and that we'd wake up fine
in the morning and that no one was going anywhere. ("Except
to sleep," my father grunted).
did go to sleep, after first putting all of the rosaries away,
including the one under my pillow. I felt that rosaries were
meant to be prayed over anyway and not to be smushed under
your head while you snored! I also felt that it was kind of
hard to sleep with it under there because it reminded me that
I might not wake up -- and who can sleep at all like that?!