Note: October 7 is the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Disclaimer: I’m not going to put pressure on anyone to pray the rosary. Goodness knows I’m the last person who can claim to pull out my beads on a regular basis. I think a healthy prayer life is all about finding the type of prayer that most calls to you … and that’s different for everyone (and for me these days, my prayers are more of the “mindfulness” variety — a few seconds here or there to register the presence of God as I burp my son or pick up toys or stare out the kitchen window at the morning fog. It’s what my spiritual director called “opportunistic spirituality” — stealing a few seconds of reflection wherever I can).
That said, there are times in my life when the rosary has drawn me like a magnet. I never quite know when the desire to pray it will arise. I do know, though, that there are some beautiful things that the rosary has to offer.
1. It gives you something concrete to hang onto. When I’m fumbling my way through any kind of emotional turmoil, that tangible aspect of the rosary is a huge plus.
2. It’s soothing. There have been many times in my life when I’ve started the rosary feeling like I’m on the razor edge of sanity. As it goes along, I find that my breathing slows down and the anxiety starts to dissipate, little by little. The repetition of the Hail Marys and Our Fathers does bring me peace.
3. I don’t have to learn the prayers. I memorized them in Catholic school all those years ago. Praying them over and over is the spiritual equivalent of putting on a comfortable pair of slippers: I feel right at home.
4. I never know when some lightning bolt of insight will arrive. There have been times when, as I meditate on the mysteries, I get some flash of understanding that I didn’t have before. I’d never thought much about the Visitation until the morning years ago that I was praying the Joyful Mysteries, trying to decide if I should go to my friend’s baby shower that day (I’d suffered a pregnancy loss and was not sure I could bear all the baby talk). I talk more about this experience in Mary and Me, so I won’t recap it all here, but I will say that the rosary did change me, for the better.
5. It leads us to Christ. Sure, Mary is a key player in several of the mysteries, but they all point towards her son. As John Paul II said in Rosarium Virginis Mariae, “To recite the rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ. ” And if you ask me, that’s a very nice thing.