Hail Mary Hugs

By Jenny Dendinger

We are a house full of huggers. As soon as I come out of my bedroom in the morning, I’m greeted with good morning hugs from each of my kids. Before leaving the house to go anywhere, everyone gets a hug goodbye. Those are the two guaranteed hugs we give out on the daily. We also do lots of random hugging as needed.

A few months ago, I began forming a new habit. Whenever I give my husband or one of my kids a hug, I silently pray a Hail Mary.

Obviously, I can’t do this every time we hug. Sometimes we give quick hugs as we are running out the door. But as long as there isn’t a time constraint, I’ve started holding on a little longer and praying a Hail Mary for the person in my arms.

This new practice has taught me that when I have the time for a longer hug, I should offer it. Quick hugs are great, but longer hugs are sometimes what’s actually needed.

Holding on longer has occasionally caught the other person off guard, but I have yet to experience anyone upset by my not quickly letting go. Instead, when they realize I’m not releasing right away, their body relaxes and settles into my arms. We pause life and share a quiet moment together.

The thing about a Hail Mary hug is that they have no idea that I’m praying for them. We pray together as a family daily, so don’t get me wrong. Family prayer is important! But I think silent prayer has its place, too.

When praying a Hail Mary while hugging my family, Mary and I share a moment, mother to mother. When I embrace my loved ones and ask for her intercession, it’s like she’s wrapping us both in a protective, motherly hug.


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