In earlier times, before the invention of modern pin locks, most residential doors were secured by a 4 inch or so metallic key that kept family members in and unwelcome intruders out.
Eventually some ingenious person invented what became known as a “skeleton” key which allowed unauthorized entrance to outsiders and further compromised what had been a fairly widespread and effective security system. For obvious reasons the possession and circulation of skeleton keys was severely restricted by law.
When I was a kid, the rosary was often referred to as the “skeleton key” to heaven. Anyone who prayed the rosary with regularity had what amounted to a “pass” key to heaven.
Now, in this context, a story is told about a prominent “nominal” Catholic appearing before Saint Peter at the gate of heaven. Things didn’t go well. Peter couldn’t find his name on any parochial roster, or on the membership rolls of the Knights of Columbus, Ladies of Charity, Holy Name Society, Altar Society or any of the other traditional Catholic organization. Nor was this individual known for virtues or ordinary works of charity.
But he was a devotee of the rosary and rarely did a day go by without his reciting all or part of a rosary. In any event finally Peter told this aspiring candidate for heaven that there was no place available for him.
As the dejected person was heading down the path from the pearly gates, he spied someone motioning behind the hedge just to the side of the roadway.
Immediately he recognized it was the Blessed Mother. She handed him a skeleton key and told the dejected candidate to try the back door.
Everyone, at least Roman Catholics, should carry a rosary in her purse or his back pocket and these so-called “carriers” should occasionally or maybe often, recite the rosary. It’s a very simple prayer, a collection of fifty Hail Marys and six or seven Our Fathers. Any client of Mary can testify that a person needn’t be a theologian to recite the rosary. The mechanics are simple, especially when one meditates on the mysteries.
Fifteen minutes a day for the rosary is probably the best spiritual investment that anyone could ever make. On the way to the market, en route to work or school or just walking down the street, are just a few examples of opportunities to pray the rosary.
From the earliest days of her sojourn here on planet earth, Mary has been assisting her fellow humans in the search for eternal life. Since her visit to Elizabeth, even before the Savior was born, Mary has been looking out for all of us.
And the rosary has become synonymous with Mary. Put away the gold, take off the silver, lay aside other temporalities and embrace the rosary.
When all else fails or looks impossible, take up the practice of the daily rosary. I do it and so should you! It’s the skeleton key to heaven.