The second thing we need to put into our image of Christ is prayer.
You learn all about animals in school. Can anyone tell me the name of an animal that can be taught to pray, p-r-a-y. No, not the praying mantis. You taught your dog to kneel up and pray… That’s good. But here’s a hint. What bird can be taught to pray? The parrot… That’s it.
A missionary in the South Sea Islands, after years of faithful service among the natives, received from them a token of their love for him. The chief ordered the natives to go through the woods and bring back a rare kind of parrot. The parrot was so rare that the search for it lasted a whole month. When it was caught the chief came to the priest and said, “You have worked so hard among us for so many years, here is a small gift to show our love. Here is the rarest bird on the islands. Its plumage is beautiful and has great value. But I must warn you, it can speak only one sentence. Be careful because it will speak the first sentence you teach it.” They brought in the parrot. The missionary set it and the cage in the corner of his hut and knelt down, as was his evening custom, to say the Rosary. After he got up he said, “Now I’ll teach the parrot that sentence.” But it was too late. The bird could already speak one sentence, and that was, “Hail Mary, full of grace.” The missionary was surprised but very pleased. He could not have thought of a better sentence. Soon after that the missionary died. Echoing in his ears from the corner of the room came the sentence, “Hail Mary, full of grace.” The prayer was finished in heaven.
When the next boat landed at the island, a sailor purchased the parrot. He took it onto a ship and tried to teach it the things that sailors teach parrots. All he could hear was, “Hail Mary, full of grace.” The sailor was not a Catholic and could not understand the meaning of the words. Together they sailed the seven seas until their travels brought them to Ireland. The sailor passed a church and heard the priest saying the Rosary. He could hear, “Hail Mary, full of grace,” followed by some words which he did not recognize. He told the parrot to speak. Yes, the words were the same. After the service he went in and told the priest his story. The priest explained the Rosary to him and gave him a pair of beads. Now the man is a Catholic and he and the parrot pray together every night.
That ought to teach us a lesson. What is it? Be kind to animals? No. Say the Hail Mary well… That’s it. What will be your little task for this week? Say your Hail Mary well, especially before you go to bed. Then our Lady will watch over you during the night. Be our Lady’s little parrots. “Hail,” means “Hello.” What would you say if our Lady appeared to you tonight? If you are her little parrots, all you would to say would be “Hail Mary, full of grace.”
~"Heavenwords," Imprimatur 1941 ~