10 Rosary Tips for Rosary Strugglers

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10 Rosary Tips for Rosary Strugglers

10 Rosary Tips for Rosary Strugglers

Confession:  The Rosary and I have a love-blah relationship.

Love, because the Rosary was the first “Catholic” prayer I ever prayed.  Praying the Rosary was a major part of my conversion from evangelical Protestantism to Catholicism, helping me to begin to love Mary.  Through it I started to see Our Lord through her eyes and her heart.

Blah, because sometimes the Rosary feels like a tedious obligation.

Perhaps my personality, a Protestant hangover, or sloppy prayer habits lead me to my occasional dislike of the Rosary. Perhaps the cause is much deeper – a lack of faith in Our Lady’s care and intercession, sin, spiritual dryness, or spiritual attack.  Or perhaps, on a human level, I don’t always find repetitive prayer appealing.

Am I the only one who feels this way?

If you are like me, you’ve probably discovered a few tricks to help you overcome your struggle to love and pray the Rosary.  The following are ten tips that have helped me move past my objections toward a renewal of my dedication to this important prayer.

Ten Tips for Cultivating a Love of the Rosary

1.  Remember your freedom.  As a guilt-prone person who (unfortunately) often thinks in terms of “ought” and “should,” it is important for me to remember the freedom I have in Christ.  Failing to pray the Rosary – or pray the Rosary well – does not automatically consign a person to the “bad Catholic” pile.

It is possible to actively love and honor the Blessed Mother without praying the Rosary, as many of our Eastern Rite brothers and sisters show us.

Ultimately, any devotion is for the sake of our relationship with God. God does not coerce us into loving Him but waits for our free cooperation with His grace.  Mary is no different.

2.  Remember the many good reasons for choosing to pray the Rosary:

  • Devotion to the Rosary is woven into the Catholic religious and cultural fabric.
  • It has a long tradition within the Latin Rite.
  • Saints, popes, and clergy have encouraged it for centuries.
  • It is a “compendium of the Gospel” (Bl. John Paul II).
  • Many Marian apparitions call for increased devotion to the Rosary.
  • And more!

3.  Read Rosarium Virginis Mariae. Bl. John Paul II’s 2002 letter opening the Year of the Rosary explains the history, meaning, and method of praying the Rosary.  By understanding why we pray the Rosary, we are better able to embrace it.

4.  Aim for one good decade instead of five sloppy ones.  I, for one, have a short attention span.  It’s better to meditate deeply on one mystery of the Rosary than rattle off five decades while the mind wanders aimlessly.

If you prefer, set a time limit instead of limiting yourself to one mystery.  A friend of mine commits to fifteen minutes of the Rosary daily.  However far she gets, she gets.  If she doesn’t finish, she doesn’t fret.

5.  Pray a Scriptural Rosary.  The first time I prayed the Rosary, a year before I came into the Church, I used the Christianica Scriptural Rosary. At the time I was terrified that I might offend God by praying the Rosary.  Perhaps, I thought, if I prayed a Scriptural Rosary (hey, it’s the Bible!) and stuck to the non-offending Sorrowful Mysteries, God would be lenient with me for trying out this papist thing.

I secretly holed up in my dorm room one Friday night and, trembling, gave it a whirl.  And in the middle of praying the Crowning with Thorns I had a breakthrough of understanding and empathy for Our Lord.

At the time, my college language class had been reading Molière’s Le Misanthrope, a biting satire of seventeenth-century French aristocratic life.  As I prayed, the story of Christ’s Passion unfolding slowly through the praying of a Scriptural Rosary, I noticed, for the first time, the mockery of Our Lord by the Roman soldiers.  It was every bit as offensive as the ugly “wit” of Molière’s French salon – though more so. And I was overwhelmed by empathy for Jesus’ suffering.

The format of a Scriptural Rosary made this possible – that, and God’s grace.

Besides the Christianica Scriptural Rosary, I recommend Christine Haapala’s Psalter of Jesus and Mary, another personal favorite.  Haapala interprets the mysteries through the Psalms and Proverbs, giving a fresh perspective to each story.

6.  Pray the Rosary using sacred art.  Sometimes we just need a visual aid.  An artist’s interpretation of events in the life of Jesus and Mary can give us new insights into the mysteries of the Rosary.  I highly recommend The Rosary with Fra Angelico and Giotto by Domenico Marcucci.  If you are fond of stained glass images, try Mysteries of the Rosary from Stampley Enterprises.

7.  Pray the Rosary while listening to sacred or devotional music.  Sacred music is meant to lift our senses and stir our devotion, especially when we’re struggling spiritually.  My husband and I particularly enjoy Heinrich Ignaz Franz von Biber’s Rosary Sonatas, which are musical meditations on the traditional three sets of mysteries.

8.  Pray the Rosary while doing mundane or repetitive tasks.  You may not have great meditation or profound insights, but vacuuming with the Rosary is better than vacuuming without the Rosary.  And a long road trip always begins best with a Rosary.

I like to pray the Rosary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy while I exercise, especially when I’m jogging.  The prayers tick through my head, keeping pace with my feet.  And I’m convinced that Mary hauls my gasping, panting self up the steep hill on which our house sits every time I run.

9.  Pray with committed family and friends.  “For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt. 18:20).  We find strength in a community of believers.  Seeing others praying joyful Rosaries can help us grow in our own appreciation for it.

10.  Pray in front of the Blessed Sacrament.  The Real Presence works miracles in our lives.  I find that many of my objections, bad habits, and antipathies melt away in front of the Tabernacle.  There is perhaps no better place on earth to pray the Rosary than in the presence of Christ, who loves His Mother and wishes us to love her and, like St. John, bring her into our own homes (cf. John 19:26-27).

Praying the Rosary, I’m learning that sometimes the thing I don’t like is the thing I most need.  God can take my efforts, however small, and transform the thing I don’t sometimes like into an activity of grace.  The Rosary can be that grace-filled opportunity.  It can even become the thing we Rosary strugglers love the most.

Copyright 2012 Rhonda Ortiz

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About Author

Rhonda Ortiz is a fiction and creative non-fiction writer and editor of Real Housekeeping. She starts more projects than she can finish, buys more books than she can read, and loves mixing metaphors – unknowingly. She is the author of The Virtuous Jane Austen: Short Reflections on Character, available on Amazon Kindle. Follow her work at www.rhondaortiz.com.

20 Comments

  1. Great article and great suggestions. I am a convert, too and loved the rosary when I first became Catholic. But I now find the rosary too dry for me. Any verbal prayer can seem too dry for me. So I often pray the rosary for peoples’ intentions. And I sometimes pray the Rosary of the Hours. Have you seen that? There is a free pdf through Our Sunday Visitor and also an iphone app!! God bless!

  2. Great tips! I love tips:-)

    I would add one:

    Get a copy of The Rosary Workout by Peggy Bowes and learn how to incorporate the Rosary into your workout. Peggy explains how to get the most out of both.

    Peggy’s website is: http://www.RosaryWorkout.com

    I interviewed Peggy for a Catholic fitness article that will be on Catholic Mom sometime soon so watch for that as well!

  3. i’ve also found myself in a love/blah relationship with the rosary. i got into the habit of praying it on my way to work… which was awesome! but now, as a SAHM… i find it difficult to get through… due to time, focus, attention… etc… so thank you for all the suggestions!

  4. Oh my goodness, you and I have so much in common! The rosary was key to my conversion from evangelical Protestantism to the Catholic Church as well, and I began praying the rosary a year before my conversion. I would not have moved as easily into the Church as I did without it. I also went the scriptural rosary route at first to play it a bit ‘safe’, and I also had a breakthrough moment in understanding Jesus better through the rosary. All of your points are great too! I’ve noticed that my rosary prayers have gotten a bit ‘sloppy’ as well, and sometimes I get antsy to hurry and finish it. Using art and music has been a big help to get all of my senses involved with praying, which helps me to calm down so that I can contemplate more easily on the mysteries instead of the next thing on my to-do list. Good post.

  5. Thanks for the article. whenever I wander while praying the rosary I just remind myself that satan hates the rosary and through it and the Blessed Mother his head will be crushed. So just pull myself back from wherever I’ve wandered and keep praying because today the world depends on us and our rosaries. Also remind yourselves that each rosary said is like chain placed around satan’s neck. Pile them on y’all.

  6. I ran across this on Pinterest. A cradle Catholic, my parents were devoted to the Blessed Mother and taught me to love the Rosary. I am going through a serious period of spiritual dryness, and welcome the great suggestions. God bless.

    • Penelope, I will let Rhonda reply but this is Lisa Hendey, the founder of this site. Please know that you are welcome here and that you will be in my prayers in a special way. For a period of spiritual dryness, may I offer that attendance at daily Mass and praying the Liturgy of the Word (the daily readings) if you can’t get to daily Mass can be a tremendous gift. You can find the daily readings link here on our site every day or can go directly to http://usccb.org/bible/readings/ to find them. Blessings and welcome!

    • Penelope, I’m so glad you found the suggestions helpful, and I hope you also find Lisa’s suggestions helpful as well. I know I’ve read (somewhere) that the saints saw dryness as an opportunity to grow in faith, though it’s so, so hard, isn’t it? I wish there was some other way of growing in faith!!!!

      I’m a convert from evangelical Protestantism, and one of the factors of my conversion was learning to detach (in a good way) from my emotional experience of my faith. I was dependent on praise and worship music as almost the sole expression of my faith in Christ, until one day I realized that there had to be more to worship than music (not that music itself is bad). I’ve tried to keep the lesson I learned before me when I do experience dryness – sometimes God allows me to have consolation, and sometimes He doesn’t, but still, He remains, and that’s what’s important.

      In any case, I’ll offer up a Rosary for you!

  7. Pingback: Tips for Those Who Struggle to Pray the Rosary

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