Many Catholics struggle with the Rosary.
Some have never prayed it before, others have tried and failed.
Some have heard so many negative comments about the Rosary, they are unsure whether its even a valid type of prayer.
Maybe you have heard these comments in the past or have even made such comments yourself:
- “The Rosary is just a string of beads.”
- “The Rosary is for the ignorant or for the old. Any educated person doesn’t pray in this antiquated way. Although the Church prayed this way in the past — now it knows better.”
- “The Rosary is a superstitious, misguided practice that demonstrates that Catholics worship Mary.”
But, are these statements really the truth of the Rosary?
What is the Rosary?
Perhaps no other form of prayer is so greatly misunderstood.
Although the above comments are common views about the Rosary, they actually represent gross misunderstandings of a deeply contemplative and deeply Scriptural prayer. A prayer that seeks greater intimacy with Christ and worships God alone.
I think all Christians agree that one of the greatest forms of prayer is reading and reflecting on Jesus present in Holy Scripture — pondering Who He was and is and all He has done and continues to do for us.
That is the essence of what the Rosary is! It is taking time to ponder and reflect on the life of Christ. To call to mind Our Savior – Jesus – in His Incarnation, Life, Death, Resurrection and Ascension and Glory in Heaven, with the aid of Scripture and His Blessed Mother’s help and prayers.
EVERY moment of Jesus’ life has meaning for us!
The more we reflect on Who He is and all He has done for us, the more we realize how vast, limitless and infinite His Love is! Jesus “became man so that man might become a god.” (St. Irenaeus) – not that we become God, but that He unites Himself so completely with us that He allows us to “partake of his divinity” as St. Peter writes. All in order to transform our humanity with His Divinity so He can raise up both our earthly life and eternal life to everlasting joy and glory! How amazing is this?!
Christ is TRULY PRESENT in His Word, which is “living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart” (Heb 4:12). This verse expresses why a Scripture passage we’ve heard hundreds of times before can suddenly touch us in a brand new way. And why, when we pray and meditate on Scripture, we can discern God’s will guiding us in our decisions and the particular circumstances of our lives.
Additionally, when we pray the rosary, Mary prays with us and intercedes for us! We can confidently put our hand in hers as we meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary – asking her to share her remembrances, her understanding and her love with us – knowing it was God’s will to use Mary to bring Jesus to life, and it is still God’s will for her to help us and lead us ever closer to Him — bringing Him to life in us.
Do we take time to pray about and consider Jesus’ life, death and resurrection each day?
If not, Lent is a perfect time to set aside a few minutes each day to do so. The Rosary mysteries are a wonderful presentation of Jesus’ life on earth — from the very beginning of His life in the womb of Mary, to His crowning His Mother in Heaven. Yet, we don’t need to pray them all at once. For instance, you may choose to pray just the sorrowful mysteries during Lent:
- The Agony in the Garden
- The Scourging at the Pillar
- The Crowning of Thorns
- The Carrying of the Cross
- The Crucifixion
A simple way to begin is to just start with the first mystery… begin by pondering the agony Jesus experienced in the Garden for the first day or the first week… If you don’t know where or how to find the Scripture passages yourself, just google: “Agony in the Garden” and it will quickly direct you to the right passages. Then, begin by spending time praying over these Scriptures. It’s not a race. You may only have only 5 minutes — that’s okay. Begin there. You can come back to the same passage again the next day, and the next, and the next… It’s not about how much you material you read or cover… it’s about encountering the living God, so notice if words or phrases jump out at you and spend time paying attention to those words. Meditate, imagine what it must have been like. Put yourself in that place and spend time with Jesus comforting Him with your words that come from the depths of your soul. They may be words of sorrow asking forgiveness… They may be pleas for help, because you, too, are experiencing a time of agony and abandonment. They may be words of uniting yourself to Jesus’ sufferings. You may want to share words of love and gratitude with Jesus for all He has done…. or you may feel nothing … that’s okay. As you pray, just pray the Our Father and the Hail Marys in the background of your prayer. And don’t forget to ask Mary to help you and to pray with you. She is there — and she will guide you!
But Why Do You Pray to Mary?
Isn’t prayer reserved for God alone?
Our worship is directed to God alone. But, just as we can and do ask others to pray for us in our need. So, too, we ask Mary to pray for us.
No one has opened themselves up more to the Love of God or to His Word than Mary! No one knew or loved Jesus more intimately or experienced the love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit more than she! As Jesus was dying on the Cross, He knew how much we needed Mary, so He gave her to us (through John, the Beloved Disciple) as our own Mother, asking us to “Behold your mother” and take her into own homes (cf. Jn. 19:27). What we find if we invite Mary into our homes is that her only desire is to lead us to Jesus; and just imagine the stories, the remembrances, and the gifts she has to share with us about her Son and her life with Him!
But what about the mysteries about Mary’s Assumption and Coronation in heaven? Isn’t that a sign that you worship her; or at the very least, a sign that you focus too much on her? On the contrary.
These mysteries are a source of hope for us!
They point to the eternal destiny and reward that is meant for each of us through the power of Jesus’ Death and Resurrection. Mary is our model. She has gone before us as the first Christian disciple, but every action of love given to Mary (which she received in its fullness of grace) is also meant for us and given to us as well (to the extent of our capacity — based on our humility, desire, faith and love). For, we, too, are called to be filled with grace and living tabernacles of God’s presence — bearing Christ within our bodies so to give birth to Him to the world. We are called to ponder and treasure His Words, to live in intimacy and love with Him each day, to nurture His life within our families, to bear witness to His miracles and to the Truth of His Words, to stand with Him unto the Cross bearing our sufferings, to be one with the Apostles and pray for the Holy Spirit’s outpouring upon the Church, to be united with him at death, and taken up body and soul into glory on the last day! Again, what wonderful news!
Without Mary, we would not have Jesus. She is an indispensable part of God’s plan. God could have given Jesus to us a different way, but He didn’t. He willed for Jesus to come to us through her. So, each time we say a “Hail Mary” we are simply echoing the words of the Archangel Gabriel and of Elizabeth who was filled with the Holy Spirit. Each time we say it, we are recalling the greatest event of all history, the moment that God became man in the Incarnation, through the “yes” of a virgin. Each time we pray the Hail Mary we are invited to remember Mary’s continual “yes” to God, to His Son and to the Holy Spirit — even unto the Cross. Each time we pray this prayer from heaven, we, too, are called to consider that our “yes” to the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives can bear Christ into the world!
So, why not try to pray the Rosary this Lent with (or without) your family? I can assure you, you’ll be glad you did! And be sure to ask for your mother’s help — she will never fail to lead us closer to Her Son!
If you need help getting starting, click here to begin.
O Jesus, help us to realize that the Rosary is a prayer for everyone who seeks to draw closer to You by meditating on Your Life and Your Holy Word. May we seek to enter into the mysteries of this beautiful prayer, asking Our Blessed Mother to help us love You as she does. Amen!
This post for first published in a modified version at enteringintothemysteries.blogspot.com
Copyright 2015 Janet Moore. All rights reserved.
- Photography credits: http://pixabay.com/en/the-rosary-beads-christian-cross-324809/