A statue of Mary is seen outside St. James Church in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in this Feb. 26, 2011, file photo. Six children first claimed to see Mary in the town in June 1981. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
A statue of Mary is seen outside St. James Church in Medjugorje, Bosnia-Herzegovina, in this Feb. 26, 2011, file photo. Six children first claimed to see Mary in the town in June 1981. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Introducing ‘Joy from Janet’

Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Janet LaPlante, a cradle Catholic raised by a devout Catholic mother and non-Catholic father, who supported our family, including Catholic educations through college. I have three grown children (Jennie, Jessie and Bill) from my first marriage, which was annulled after 12 years. I had another daughter (Jacqui) with my husband Kirk at age 40. She is now 25, so you know exactly how old I am! Kirk and I have been members of St. Paul’s parish since we were married 26 years ago.

I have had several different careers in the corporate world and my own business and I have been an active part of my church and community all my life. I wrote a column for the Moon Valley Tattler for seven years. In my so-called retirement, I am focusing on my writing and speaking engagements and also my six dear grandchildren. You will occasionally see an article of mine in the Arizona Republic or a magazine, but I prefer to give short talks on Radio Family Rosary, work on my three unfinished books, and now begin a new chapter with this blog for the Catholic Sun.

I write about life experiences and how they affect me as a woman, wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, and especially as a Catholic. Through my stories, I hope you will find my devotion and trust in Our Lord and in His mother Mary. There is a lot going on in the world today and I believe we need to speak about our thoughts and concerns, our beliefs and love, and living our everyday lives. We can look at our relationships with each other and with our God. As we do this, hopefully we grow in our spirituality and attain the ultimate goal of living with each other in heaven for eternity.

Asking others for prayers

Today, I would like to share on the concept of asking others for prayers. My family has experienced the normal flow of wonderful celebrations, changes in direction, disappointments and joys, as I imagine most families do. During the times of stress, illness or death, I share more of myself with others and seek their prayers. It happens at morning Mass, during a walk in the neighborhood, by phone or when I am sharing a meal with someone. I simply ask “Will you pray for my grandson during his surgery this week?” or “Will you say a prayer for a safe journey?” as I take off for one of my many trips to California to help with the grandkids.

Janet LaPlante
Janet LaPlante

In turn, when I hear a story about someone who I know could use some prayer, I always ask for the person’s name. Sometimes I mention I will pray for that person, or more often, I am asked, “Can you pray for them, her or me?” We grow so much closer to each other when we do this. It becomes normal to feel blessed, secure and comforted because someone is praying for me or my loved ones. Often, we don’t know the person we are praying for, but it doesn’t matter. Prayer works.

I have found the best times for me to pray are in the morning and at night in bed. I ask our Mother Mary to take care of my entire family in the day or night ahead, “Because, you are their mother, dear Mary.” I ask God to “Make me the person You want me to be today,” before I put my feet on the ground. Then at Mass, when I hear the words after the Our Father, “Keep us safe from all distress,” I know I can meet any challenge ahead without fear or worry, because I am joined in prayer with the priest and all those around me.

I established a prayer chain while my daughter was pregnant over seven years ago with our grandson, who was born with an underdeveloped heart. He has had several major surgeries and procedures and now has a pacemaker. When I recently sent out an email to let his prayer fans know he was going to be starting second grade, an amazing thing happened. A neighbor responded that she had broken her back and “Would the prayer warriors send some prayers her way?” Then I heard from my college roommate that her nephew had been killed in an automobile accident and she would appreciate prayers for her family. I felt the power of God’s grace in these messages as I realized what this group, which has grown into the thousands, means to each other.

This past weekend, Kirk and I attended the Marian Conference in Phoenix. We were both moved by all the speakers and made a commitment to pray the Rosary together each day, instead of individually. We also heard that we needed to focus on the words, not just repeat them without thought. Most importantly, we learned to offer each decade for a special intention, so we found another way to offer prayers for those we love and those in need. We decided to pray the Rosary on our patio during the huge storm that Monday night. I felt very close to God during the rain, wind and loud thunder and was again grateful that I had a husband who shared my faith and all that it means to me.

Finally, I am reminded of these powerful words at the beginning of the Memorare, “Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help, or sought your intercession was left unaided.” Anyone means you and me. How can we not send our prayers to her all throughout our day, knowing she cares for us as her children and she does not ignore our needs.

I pray today that I can serve you and that we can become friends through this blog, as we continue our journey together.