Category Archives: Rosary

Helene Menard and the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary

When Helene Menard (Lataille) 1925-2017 passed away her son-in-law, my Uncle Tom Savoie asked if I would lead a Rosary during her internment at Notre Dame Cemetery in Pawtucket RI.   I was honored to do so.  Even though the internment was on a Wednesday I asked that we use the Luminous Mysteries normally reserved for Thursday.  Added to the Rosary by Pope John Paul II in 2002, the Luminous Mysteries  are the newest mysteries and are only said once a week.

The Luminous Mysteries blend in Jesus’s humility and love for us; in the Sacraments of Baptism and the Eucharist, in a call to action, in a mother’s tender love and in the wonderful promises of Jesus’s Transfiguration. The Mysteries of the Rosary are an inexhaustible wellspring of insights on God’s love for us for those that take the time to meditate on them.  That’s the key to understanding the Rosary; it’s not a repetition of Our Fathers and Hail Marys but a meditation on the life of Jesus set to the music of our prayers.

As I prepared for the internment, I reflected on how the Mysteries illuminated the life of Helene Menard.  Below is a transcript of my introductions to each Luminous Mystery at the internment.

1.The Baptism of Jesus: Jesus is baptized by St John the Baptist in the Jordan River.  People gathered on the shore, some to be baptized, others to self-righteously gawk at sinners who would come to St John to be cleansed from their sins.  A humble yet sinless Jesus comes to a shocked John the Baptist asking to be baptized.

By His Baptism Jesus brings His Divinity into our fallen and weak human nature. In turn, through our baptism, Jesus promises us to take our human nature into His divinity.  Jesus has kept that Baptismal promise to Memere and with her passing has taken her to Himself.


2.The Wedding feast at Cana: Jesus, His Mother and His apostles attend a wedding. Here Jesus, at the request of His Mother, turns water into wine.  With motherly concern she wanted her Son to perform a miracle to save the young newlyweds from the embarrassment of running out of wine at their own wedding.  His Mother Mary, like all loving mothers, was tuned into the little troubles of life.

Jesus gave us everything that was exclusively His. Why should we be surprised that He would give us His Mother as well?  And not only His mother, but a mother especially for each of us, like Memere.  Memere loved Jesus’s mother very much, and like her she was concerned about us, not only in the important things, but also the small things that only a mother would worry about.


3.The Proclamation of the Kingdom: Jesus charged not only His apostles to preach the Gospel but gave us the same task as well. Not only are we use our words, but our actions. Memere’s words and actions brought Jesus to those around her.

How did Memere preach the gospel?  Through her example of daily prayer and daily Mass, and by donating her time and treasure to those in need.  For example, even as her eyesight dimmed, and her hands became unsteady, she continued to make Rosaries for others like the one I am using today.  Let’s follow her example and through our love bring Jesus to others.


4.The Transfiguration: Just days before the agony of His crucifixion, Jesus strengthened His three closest apostles with a stunning vision of His glory.  All that seemed forgotten in the sadness in Jesus’ death but only to be remembered again in the joy of His Resurrection.

We too should take comfort in the wonderful moments when Memere was among us and look with hope to the joy of our reunion with our family in Heaven and in the Resurrection to come.


5.The Institution of the Eucharist: Jesus, who loved us to the end, could not bear the thought of leaving us orphans. To be with us always, He instituted at the Last Supper the great gift of His presence in the Eucharistic Bread and Wine. Jesus is truly present in every tabernacle of every church across the world. He waits patiently there for us, wanting to hear of our joys and sorrows and to come to Him out of pure love.

When we sit in front of the Eucharist, Jesus is there with us.   At the same time, all of those who have gone before us in the friendship of Jesus are there with Him also.  So what does that mean? When we encounter Jesus, we also encounter His saints in Heaven because where He is, they are also. Do you want to be close again to Memere and our family in heaven?  Stay close to Jesus in the Eucharist.

Post Script Notes:

Why Memere?

Even though Helene Menard is not my biological grandmother, I could not imagine calling her anything else but Memere.  Memere, French for grandmother, is a term of respect, reverence and endearment.  Even my mother’s sister’s husbands are “Uncle” Jack and “Uncle” Dave to me.  Doing so has laid the firm foundation for a close, loving relationship of respect and mentorship.   Even at 53,  all of my older relatives are referred to by me as “Uncle” or “Aunt.” When my niece Elizabeth got married I asked her new husband Collin to call me Uncle Joe.  By doing so I hope to grow into a close relationship with him like my relationships with Uncle Jack and Uncle Dave.  I really hope so, because he’s a great young man and I am very fond of him.

I have that relationship with my first cousin’s son Andrew Savoie and his wife Rosalyn.  He is the same age as my oldest daughter and after taking about it, I became Uncle Joe.  Just “Joe” felt awkward to both of us because it felt like a barrier rather than a facilitator for communication. We all have plenty of buddies but uncle and aunts are far rarer in our lives and I would rather have a few more of them then more pals to hang out with.

Memere’s Rosaries 

Memere was a prolific Rosary maker and her typical output of these treasures was two per day. I am blessed to have a couple of her home made Rosaries. The one I used for her internment in Pawtucket Rhode Island is extra special and rare because Memere made an obvious mistake making it.  In the middle, one decade only has nine Hail Mary beads instead of ten and is followed by two Our Father beads.

Memere’s daughter Aunt Jackie said that Memere would normally never let an error like that escape without being corrected. The nine bead decade reminds me that human hands, not a factory, made this Rosary and that even as Memere began to fail she continued to make them even to the end.

Memere’s Obituary can be found here (It will take a moment to load):

Saying the Rosary:

ALS and a Rosary Miracle

Once in a while, when God looks down on us with love, he drops a soul into the world like a pebble gently tossed into a pond. Like that pebble, the soul makes waves that spread throughout the world before it all too quickly slips from our sight. My brother Davy was just such a soul.

My Brother Davy Bolton at 6 months
My Brother Davy Bolton at 6 months

I could talk at length about Davy’s quiet generosity, his love for his family, for his sons, Michael and Andrew. I could also talk about how  since childhood Davy was a natural leader and how even at a young age the neighborhood children would follow him around.  As an Army officer, his men loved and trusted Davy.  No, my limited time and lack of eloquence cannot do justice to almost 50 years of a life well lived.

LTC Davy Bolton with Dennis Miller about a year before the onset of ALS
LTC Davy Bolton with Dennis Miller about a year before the onset of ALS


I do want to take a moment and share with you about how Davy inspired us during the last couple of years as his struggle with ALS  progressed.

Jesus never promised us an easy life when he said that we must pick up our cross and follow Him and it is a paradox of our faith that whom Jesus especially loves, he gives a great cross.  Davy was Jesus’s pebble tossed into our lives and the waves He made through Davy will continue to radiate throughout our world for many years to come.

Davy and brother Pete, March 2013, eight months before he passed away
Davy and brother Pete, March 2013, eight months before he passed away from ALS

Davy’s illness inspired compassion, love and generosity in others.  Davy’s suffering became an opportunity for people think of others instead of themselves.   Neighbors, friends, or even strangers would commit acts of love in the name of Davy.  People would come over to help around the house, bring or cook food and bring comfort to Davy, my parents and Davy’s boys.  Jesus told us that whatever you do to the least of my brothers you do unto me.  Therefore, every act of love and kindness directed to Davy and our family was also an act of love toward Jesus Himself.  Davy’s illness inspired compassion in others and through it Jesus brought His love to us while we in turn became more loving people to our neighbor.

Davy’s illness also inspired a spiritual awaking in those around him. One of Davy’s fellow Army officers to spoke to me about how Davy’s inner beauty brought her back to a deeper love of her Catholic faith that she had lost.  Others began to pray, some for the first time. Some of us began to pray the Rosary daily, others started to attend daily Mass.  At first, these prayers were for Davy and our family but as time went by Jesus used our newly inspired prayer lives to draw us to a deeper relationship of love with Him.

In effect, Jesus was using Davy to bring all of us into a closer with  Him.

My Mother tending to Davy a day after the miracle. The last Photo of Davy alive 8 November 2013.
My Mother tending to Davy a day after the miracle. This is the last photo of Davy while he was  alive, November 8, 2013. Two days before he succumbed to ALS

A week before Davy passed away he was hospitalized for three simultaneous blood infections. What happened in the hospital during that stay was the most profound and mysterious lesson for us all.

While my brothers Peter and Patrick and our mother and I sat with Davy his blood pressure took a sudden, drastic drop.  Davy became unresponsive. His doctor ran through all of the checks, poking and pinching Davy, she even yelled in his ear. Nothing.  Even a light shinned in Davy’s eyes brought no pupil response.  Although Davy still had a weak pulse and low blood pressure, he was, for all practical consideration, dead.

At the time, the medical staff had no options to revive Davy.  It was everyone’s belief that this was it and clinical death was imminent.  A few moments later, by sheer coincidence,  Davy’s parish priest arrived.  We all gathered around Davy and began to pray and talk to him. We stood and prayed out loud there for two hours to include 2 full rosaries, the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Daily Office. Slowly and miraculously, with no medical intervention, Davy began to come around, opening and closing his eyes and mouthing some of the prayers with us. Davy eventually came around later long enough to see our sister Charlene and cousin Jim for the last time as well has have some last moments with Michael and Andrew and our parents.

For those of us who were there it was a profoundly moving experience that we will never forget.  As I have thought about what happened three truths became apparent:

  • We didn’t pray alone, but the Guardian Angels of everyone in that hospital room was praying with us.
  • That prayer isn’t about repetition, incantations or even changing God’s mind. Prayer is about us opening up ourselves to the love and generosity of God.
  • Lastly, no one lives without prayer. Prayer is life itself and even if we don’t pray for ourselves others pray for us and sustain us. It could be our parents and friends who pray for us. At the very least our Guardian Angels pray us constantly even if we don’t believe and pray. Like the air around us, pray is life and we don’t appreciate what it would mean to live without it until it’s gone.

Saint Paul in his epistles reminds us that we have a cloud of witnesses watching over us and cheering us on from above.  Davy is now among them and from there he will continue to pray for us and be a part of our family. Like the pebble dropped into a still pond, Davy has now slipped past our sight but the waves he made still radiate outward.  We must continue to be those waves and to go forth and inspire others as Davy inspired us, with acts of love towards our neighbor and with unceasing prayer for others.

Thank you

For David Bolton, LTC, US Army February 12, 1965- November 10th  2013.


Davy's final resting place in Arlington VA
Davy’s final resting place in Arlington VA


Post Script:  It’s been almost a year since my brother Davy passed away after a two and a half year struggle with ALS.  What I have just shared with you are my words of remembrance I gave at the end of his funeral Mass.

I am amazed at how God perfectly set the stage upon which this miracle occurred.  First, there was an audience:  me, my brothers and my mother.  Second, the doctor just happened to be present when Davy became unresponsive and validated his condition medically. The doctor was not normally in Davy’s room. Third, Davy’s parish priest unexpectedly arrived in the hospital room just after the doctor validated Davy’s condition. Fourth, I had the Rosary shown in the photos with me for all of us to pray with.  It’s too much of a  coincidence for all of this to line up perfectly by shear chance and luck.

It has been a long stretch between posts but I have been in the middle of moving to Massachusetts and starting a new job. Keep checking back for new posts! It shouldn’t be so long next time.