Prostitution, handwarmers, and the Rosary

I have been praying the Rosary with a group of Catholic Deacons and woman involved in the sex industry for a few weeks now. We meet on a corner in the city that is busy with the activity that surrounds prostitution. I have experience praying for people on the street but no experience with the Rosary. The Deacons give me a sheet of paper with instructions and a string of Rosary beads. We meditate on the joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious mysteries of Jesus, and the events that surround his life. We wave at the woman from a distance and offer roses, letting them know that they are loved. Men pull up and ask us what we are doing. “Can I have some prayer beads? Are they blessed?” I give my rosary beads to a guy with a bunch of cash in his car. The women are friendly and seem to understand what we are about. Hail Mary, full of grace.

Yesterday, a woman who was working came over to our prayer time and said hi. She is from the Georgia and not in love with the Seattle weather. The police are less aggressive here and don’t harass her like they do back home. “Here, they ask if you are doing ok. Back home, they just put you in jail.” She tells us that a woman was murdered last week, that handwarmers are helpful, and that she has had guns pulled on her multiple times. All the trauma and violence in her life seems to be commonplace and expected. It’s a mystery how the events of her life have unfolded. I ask her if she wants to pray for protection and safety. She does, and we bow our heads, asking God for freedom from violence. We pray to Jesus for peace that surpasses all understanding and for extra warmth from the Holy Spirit. Seattle weather really does suck. She thanks us and tells us her name. A sign of trust and vulnerability.

The Holy Spirit inhabits the events of our lives when we ask him to. Praying with the Deacons and woman involved in prostitution is a physical expression of Christ’s love and suffering. Asking for prayer and handwarmers while working in prostitution invites the power of the resurrection into the suffering of shame. “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame (Romans 10:11).” Pray for us, that we may made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.

Michael Cox

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