Persons, places and things: Would Mary play UNO?


By Barb Arland-Fye

On Mother’s Day, our family played Uno. This version of the card game featured colorful images from Disney’s “Frozen II” movie. I found the deck of cards tucked into a red gift bag with colorful tissue paper, my favorite treat (M&M’s), other chocolates and a battery-powered vo­tive candle. We displayed the candle while playing cards at the kitchen table.


Afterwards, I asked my son Colin whether the cards were part of his gift to me. No, he said. The cards were his. He placed them in the bag as a reminder to play the game, which he enjoys. However, I thought the other two boys (my husband Steve and our younger son Patrick) would require some convincing to play. They didn’t! The family bonding time was priceless. The boys played cards because Mom wanted everyone to be present to one another.

Later that day, I prayed the rosary with an online prayer group that Meliza Wise of St. Thomas More in Coralville organized for Catholics interested in being part of a prayer community. My friend Ann Elsbecker, also of St. Thomas More, invited me to join. They had begun a novena to Our Lady of Fatima, she said. 


Our family prayed the rosary nightly when our sons were growing up. Steve and I switched from that tradition to praying morning and evening prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. I continued to pray the rosary in my car while driving home from work. That routine stopped when the office building closed because of the coronavirus crisis.

I enjoyed praying the rosary with the online prayer group, despite forgetting the words to the Fatima invocation that followed my leading of the fifth decade. I worried the group might think I was a first-timer praying the rosary!

At the end of the day I reflected on our celebration of Mother’s Day, which included watching Mass online that had been recorded at Our Lady of the River in LeClaire and Church of the Visitation in Camanche. Images of Mary from each church building were shown during a solo of “Ave Maria.”

Like so many depictions of our Blessed Mother, these images project serenity. Other images I have seen of Mary over the years show her either at peace, in adoration, or in sorrow, with her Son’s body draped over her lap. I wondered, did Mary ever have a good laugh? Did she play games with Jesus? If she and Jesus walked this earth today, would they have sat down to play a game of Uno on Mother’s Day?

Our Catholic Church teaches, “As the Mother of God, the Virgin Mary has a unique position among the saints … She is exalted, yet one of us … her role is to bring us to Christ” ( As a mother, I yearn to be more like Mary in embracing our faith. My lived experience of faith includes light-hearted moments of joy and laughter. I hope Mary’s lived experience of faith included laughter and light-hearted moments with her Son.

(Contact Editor Barb Arland-Fye at    

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