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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Rosary

I used to hate the rosary.

Yup. I said that. We learned it as children, but Mom instituted it when we were already agitated. Although, I have to admit that she likely did it at the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and Our Lady herself...and as you'll see, that small thing is bearing fruit today.

I remember Mom teaching us the rosary during bedtime prayers. First just the prayers, and then one day she made us pray a decade with her. We didn't like it; it was boring and repetetive and we didn't want to do it. And I think that over a couple weeks or a month we built up to a full rosary, which Mom explained as we went, and she used pictures. But we resented the intrusion into our playtime. (Parents...start the rosary BEFORE they consider it an intrustion!)

Well, I think Mom got frustrated and maybe "gave up" or maybe it was just that she got busy. In any case, we went awhile without praying it. But we knew Mom's favorite phrase: "A family that prays together, stays together!"

To this day, I can't hear or read that phrase without an instinctive cringe and twinge of resentment.

Then appeared my particular fear of storms, arising out of my original fear and excaberated by the tree falling on our house. We had an evening of storms, some of them severe, and our power went out. I was crying and terrified, Mom was closing windows and trying to calm us, and even the dog was shaking. Mom decided right then and there that it was time to pray the rosary again. And for once, I didn't argue even though I didn't want to do it. But we sat down in the kitchen, watched the storm, and prayed the rosary.

Incidentally, that was ALSO the night that someone called us during the storm. Mom, still leading us in prayer, paused and asked us to wait. She went to the phone, picked it up, and instead of saying "Hello" like a normal person she said, "Hail Mary, Full of Grace, the Lord is with thee...." And then realized she was answering the phone! Talk about breaking the tension!

When she hung up we finished the rosary.

I've written of this before, but of course, I went on not liking the rosary. But Mom had found something that worked; pray it with us when something scary was happening. Maybe she saw something in us that we couldn't see. I've heard many stories from many parents. We one night prayed it while watching fire trucks pass by our house a few times on the highway, seeking the fire in our unmapped neighborhood. Mom lead the charge first in our family rosary, and then left to find the family that needed help. We were old enough to remain alone. Although we were in the middle of a severe storm, Mom found it necessary to make certain that our neighbors were all right. I think my brother and I actually finished the rosary on our own, out of obedience to Mom. My brother was in charge, and he was always the more obedient one as it related to Mom and what she wanted.

That same summer, there was another storm, and in that one, as Mom and my brother rushed around, I was in a panic on the livingroom step. And so I prayed the rosary, badly, but still praying. My brother made fun of me. Mom rejoiced in her distracted way as she battened down the hatches.

Even when I wasn't aware, the rosary has figured nto my life prominently, for Mom was always praying it for me, even if she didn't realize why. Good mothers always pray the rosary; for the Blessed Mother can see what the rest of humanity cannot. Through praying the gospels, Mary always brings us to our Lord and Savior, her beloved Son.

I went years without praying it, and I think one day, struggling in my last job, prayed it on Mondays. And that eventually became a habit of praying it every day en route to work. That lead to a period of Eucharistic Adoration over my lunch hour, which I wasn't able to carry on due to the work situation. But that time of intense prayer carried me through, and often I prayed the Rosary or Divine Mercy during that time, and I wept while doing so. Slowly, my friendship with Mary was growing.

Even now, I usually pray the Rosary en route to work, although some days I do not. Yet, I find that it has become a habit, and if I don't pray it in the car, something seems wrong somehow. And some days I don't "feel like" praying it and think that my prayers are "useless" in my distraction.

It is then that I'm reminded of Fr. Corapi's powerfully-stated words: "THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A BAD ROSARY!"

I'm also reminded of another Saint, maybe Our Lady herself, who told someone that it's better to say 1 Hail Mary with great devotion than an entire rosary in distraction. And yet the former does not contradict the latter, for any prayer to Our Lady is efficacious, and she can take over where we have become lost. A more engaged prayer is always more efficacious, but if we are struggling, it's better to persevere than to give up. God asks us to struggle sometimes, in order that He can bring about a greater good, and that greater good in that case can become the virtues of fortitude and perseverance, which take us beyond prayer and innundate our entire lives if we will only let them.

I used to hate the Rosary. And even now I can't say I love to pray it "in community" for I find it to be a distraction (the different paces and vocal pitches drive me CRAZY!) But alone, in my car, it becomes a conversation, it brings answers to problems, and it builds the relationship between my Lord and I no matter where I am.

Thanks to Mom for teaching us this devotion, especially in a crisis; for praying it in crisis as a child lead me to praying it in crisis as an adult, and it has lead to praying it regularly as a part of my everyday life.

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed are thou amongst women, blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.


RJW said...

I so enjoy your posts. I too have turned more to the rosary in recent years. And it is true there is no such thing as a bad rosary. Since the divorce I have began praying the rosary with my children on most of the nights they are with me. My 7 year old always asks if we can "pray a decade tonight".

I also find great inspiration in your fear of storms. It reminds me that whatever form a storm may take, Jesus can calm the storm. I really need to be reminded of that more often. God bless you and thanks for your wonderful insights.

Anonymous said...

I make Peace Rosaries for my nieces & nephews. These are 7 sets of 3 beads - one for the Our Father, one for the Hail Mary, one for the Glory Be. Saying the Apostles Creed first then each set of Prayers said 7 times.

This is great for small children.... their attention span is not that long & it's easily said. I even made them in their favorite colors that way they knew which one was whose. (They also have a set of Sacrifice Beads).

It's a great way to start kids on the Rosary!


Kevin said...

Every evening after the dinner we prayed the rosary. As kids we hated it for the same reasons you describe.

I started praying it again a few years ago following a near family tragedy.

My folks still pray the rosary every night. One evening a couple of months ago they had their 9 month old granddaughter with them. Granddaughter was on grandma's lap playing with a rosary and was fascinated by the back and forth of the prayers between grandma and grandpa. It was dubbed the "rosary party."

When another grandaughter visits the grandparents, she requests the praying of the rosary following the evening meal.

Mark said...

No bad rosaries...

Like all prayers, their effect is not dependent on us but the one prayed to; the benefit to us is a function of our attentiveness. The greatest prayer of all, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, has it's effect on the entire world, even if we are not attending. It's effect on us is greater, however, when we do attend!

Monte said...

As I've said before, I'm a convert to Catholicism from being a Southern Baptist for 40+ years. The rosary was NOT something that clicked for me, though I did buy one early on. Through participation in the Knights of Columbus I have volunteered to lead the Rosary at church. Now it is coming to be an important part of joining with my catholic brothers and sisters in prayer as community.

Ma Beck said...

Oh, I don't like "communal" rosaries either, but I LOVE the rosary.
I am doing the rosary novena right now and the difference in my life is astounding.

Terry Nelson said...

Indeed - there are no bad rosaries.

adoro said...

I also love the rosary now, although there are times where I struggle to pray it for different reasons.

I've also been astounded at the change in my life resulting from the rosary.

And I want to find a kit to make knotted rosaries. While Ranger Rosaries are great, I actually want something for closer to home first. My friend had some beautiful ones some time ago, a blue twine but I don't know how to make them and I don't know if she had a kit or what. (And she's going to be unreachable now. It figures.)

Anonymous said...

The Rosary Army makes rosaries and gives them away, and they have tons of instructions and pictures and videos on their site to teach you how to make your own out of string and other stuff, too.

They're a great lay group.

swissmiss said...

My father (and mother) said the rosary and Divine Office every day for as long as I can remember. I used to say it, but then changed to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Now, with homeschool starting in the Fall, I think I want to start the day reciting a decade of the rosary with my kids. My son already says his prayers before bed, but I think the daily rosary would actually help ME be a better mom. And, as they say, if mom's happy, everyone's happy :)

adoro said...

anon ~ Thanks, I forgot about them!

swissmiss ~ I think my daily rosary is what gave me the desire to pray the Office. Amazing how that works. :-)