Signal graces are the unique graces promised to us by the Virgin Mary when we faithfully recite the Rosary. They are the “signs” given to us after we’ve prayed for something; signs that indicate that our prayer was heard. The word “signal” in this case refers to special, beyond the ordinary. These graces are different than what God already gives us on a daily basis.
Our Lady made fifteen promises to those who faithfully recite the Rosary. The first promise speaks of signal graces. When I researched the sentence “What are Signal Graces?” I found very little in terms of an actual definition or a thorough explanation of what exactly they are. However, what I did discover is that throughout history many, many great saints were given these signal graces as they went about their lives, striving to do God’s will. Many of these saints were also very attached to the Blessed Virgin Mary, as was the case with Saint Catherine Laboure and Saint Therese Lisieux.
In my own life I can cite numerous examples of times in which I’ve received these graces after reciting the Rosary on a regular basis. I recall one evening this past March.
The Bluebird of Happiness
It was an unusually warm spring evening. I was walking my dog through the cemetery. Besides being a wonderful form of exercise, I use those walks as occasions to think or pray. Usually I end up doing both. And when I pray I always talk out loud. People could easily assume that I’m talking to myself! But God knows better, and I usually reserve my walks for time spent with Him.
The night before I had been praying the Rosary, but I also said a special prayer to Saint Joseph, the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus. I had been plagued with a disturbing issue that involved a certain person who was having great difficulty in his life. He was never close to his own father and I knew during this painful and challenging time in his life a father (or father figure) was exactly what he needed. I asked Saint Joseph to look after him and protect him against evil and adversity and lead him toward peace, health and happiness.
There is a particular place in this cemetery where I like to walk. It’s the older part that’s kind of set off in a section all by itself. It doesn’t get the same amount of traffic that the other areas seem to attract (aside from stray joggers or an occasional dog walker) and it’s in a serene setting; quiet and undisturbed.
I was heading back toward where I’d parked my car when all of a sudden I saw a flash of blue on the ground several feet ahead of me. I noticed that it was a bird and yet it was one that I had never seen before. The bird flew up to a branch on a nearby tree and from there flew past me to another branch on another tree. I tried to follow it with my eyes but moments later it had flown away and out of my sight. I had noticed a rusty brown color on its breast and made a mental note to check with my mother about it later one. She’s always been fascinated with birds and often knows a bird just by the mere description of it.
Pray the Holy Rosary for Signal Graces
As it turned out, according to my mother, the bird I had seen was a bluebird. When she heard my description she knew right away and immediately went to her computer to look up photos and various articles to find out if that in fact was what I saw. Sure enough, she was right! And she told me with a sigh that all her life she’d longed to see a bluebird but never had. She also told me how rare it is to spot one in our area and that they are particular about where they nest.
Later on that night I did a little more research on bluebirds and found that they are the symbol of happiness. I also found them mentioned in various songs and immediately thought of an old goofy 1987 hit that I (reluctantly now admit with an embarrassed chuckle) used to love called “Come As You Are.” And then I remembered a song from a long, long time ago that has gone down in history as one of the all-time favorites: “Over the Rainbow.”
I suppose critics, naysayers and cynics would scoff at my linkage with the bluebird to my Saint Joseph prayer the night before. But I know without a doubt that he heard me and that he sent the bluebird as a sign of hope and better days to come. And it’s so obvious to me that because I had the faith in the intercession of Saint Joseph coming to my aid, the Blessed Virgin Mary was all the more ready to ask God to send me the grace I needed to know that I was on the right track in my prayers. And the grace came in the form of the bluebird.
I believe that the stronger our faith in the power of the Rosary, the more signal graces we will receive. All of us are called to greatness. But we have to be open to reception; we have to answer the call.
Photo by: blmurch