Sharing the Wisdom: Lessons from Mom on War, Peace, and Prayer

Sharing the Wisdom: What I Learned from an Elder

Twelve-inch painted ceramic statues of Jesus and Mary are permanent fixtures on the bedside table of my mother, Caridad Ragasa. The painted-on hair, cheeks, and hands are partially worn off, evidence of my mother’s daily caresses. As a child, I witnessed her kneel before the statues in prayer every morning and evening. I marveled at her persistent daily devotion, which for years I never fully understood.

Finally, as a teen I asked, “Mom, when did your daily devotion to prayer begin, and why is it important to you?”

“I was born and raised in Hawaii and nine years old when Pearl Harbor was attacked,” she explained. “I recall my mother spreading out several large sheets across the floor. She piled food, clothing, and other basic necessities onto the center of each one, tied them into bundles, and stored them near the back door in the event we needed to flee into the mountains, out of view from aerial attack.

“Preparations in place, we prayed the Rosary, pleading with our Blessed Mother—Our Lady of Peace—to intercede for us, to pray for us, protect us, and save us.

“The threat lasted for several years, ending when I was 13 years old. I remember barbed wire along the beaches; black-out curtains; carrying a gas mask to school in sixth, seventh, and eighth grades; and the stress of learning how to enclose my infant brother into a gas mask for babies. Can you imagine living like that when you were that young?

“Daily Mass. Growing vegetables in our victory garden. Air-raid drills. Checking in on our elderly neighbors. Praying. Always praying.”

I asked her, “Were you praying for an end to the war?”

“We hoped for that outcome,” she replied. “But what we prayed for was for the United States, our allies, and even our enemies of war to be open to receive God’s grace. We also prayed for an increase of grace in all Christians, especially our military and political leaders.

“To this day,” she continued, “I try to live my life ‘worthy of the promises of Christ.’ Then, inspired by our Blessed Mother, I pray for the world to be open to receive and increase in God’s grace. Then hold on to our faith in Jesus, knowing that he always gives us what we need.”

In that moment I realized that my mother possessed a theology of prayer that was beyond my comprehension.

To this day, whenever I say, “I’ll pray for you,” I begin with a self-examination: Am I living my life in a way that is “worthy of the promises of Christ”? Am I in need of the Sacrament of Reconciliation? Will my invocation be for an increase in grace and charity? Will my prayer lead to actions in support of the person I promised to pray for, or am I just offering “lip service”?

This is the true nature of prayer, taught to me through the wisdom of my mother. Prayer—to Jesus through Mary. Surely, in the midst of war my mother found peace.

All this week here at Catechist’s Journey, we’ve been sharing stories of wisdom learned from our elders. We’re all inspired by Sharing the Wisdom of Time by Pope Francis and Friends. We hope you are too and want to read your stories of elders who have impacted you in a positive way! Visit to get started.

About Jayne Ragasa-Mondoy 29 Articles
Jayne Ragasa-Mondoy serves as Director of Religious Education for the Diocese of Honolulu, which is comprised of the six major islands in the state of Hawaii. Born and raised in Honolulu, Jayne began her professional career in corporate management in the San Francisco Bay Area while remaining steadily involved in parish catechetical and liturgical music programs. Jayne, and her husband and daughter, returned to Honolulu where Jayne earned a master's degree in pastoral leadership from Chaminade University of Honolulu. Her perspective of volunteer recruitment and management is shaped by her lengthy experience in working with and leading volunteers in diocesan and parish catechetical ministries, as a high school teacher and administrator, and as a governing board member for local Catholic and private schools and the National Conference for Catechetical Leaders (NCCL).​ She is the author of Cultivating Your Catechists, part of the Effective Catechetical Leader series.


  1. Thank you for sharing this wonderful account of your mother’s deep and enduring faith. A very active faith. It is a great lesson to realize that prayer is not meant to change God’s mind–who loves us and wants the best for us–but to change us so we are more able to receive and incarnate the graces that are always coming our way. Jayne, this story will stay with me a long, long time.


  2. What a beautiful and inspiring article that is timely today! As the DRE of our parish, I plan to send this out to my families in our weekly communications to encourage them to continue to pray for our broken world.

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