It all starts with a mother—a girl who finds out that, against all odds, she’s been chosen for motherhood. That girl immediately goes to help a distant relative who has some troubles of her own. Then that girl and her husband venture through the wilderness, searching for rest and for a place where their impossible family can blossom in the coldest depths of winter. I could go on and on through all twenty mysteries, but you probably can extrapolate for yourself the family joys, perils, sorrows, and unexpected glories contained in this beloved devotion. These mysteries give us pictures of every imaginable family relationship: husband and wife, parent and child, the adoption triad, single parent and child, parent and adult child, and even extended-family relationships.
Could there be a better prayer for a family powering through struggles, searching for an unshakable peace?
Our family has made a practice of praying a daily Rosary together for the past five years this month. This began months after a dear friend with ten children to my three had let me know that they’d been praying the family Rosary nightly for years. I think my jaw hit my knees when I heard this.
“You’re a lay Dominican,” she said to my reaction. “Don’t you pray the Rosary daily?”
“Well, yeah,” I admitted, “but I get up early and pray it by myself, and that’s hard enough!”
“It’s not that hard,” she’d replied. “It’s fifteen minutes of your entire day together. Anybody can make that happen.”
So she said, but I had my doubts. Nevertheless, we decided we’d give the family Rosary a trial during that year’s 40 Days for Life. We told ourselves that this was just a sacrifice we’d make for 40 days and then go back to the usual, relaxing nightly routine of TV and/or phone-gazing. As the first day of the campaign approached, however, my misgivings grew. How would we find the time for an entire Rosary with three littles? Three wriggly, whiny, fussy, exhausted-by-the-end-of-the-day littles?
I may have eyed the heavens and said something like, “Okay, God. You want this to happen? Make it happen.”
And He did.
For forty days, once the dinner dishes were done and the dog walked, we gathered before the darkened TV and, beads in hand, prayed. My convert husband, completely unfamiliar with this whole Rosary process, had to follow my lead for the first few years—maybe like Joseph had to lead by following Mary. The older two children learned how the mysteries of the Rosary are the story of all salvation history—just as Mary had to watch Jesus make His way from babyhood to the cross to a victorious resurrection. Our baby—when she wasn’t already down for the night because she’d not deigned to take her afternoon nap—prayed simply by listening to the voices around her, by learning that each decade has as many Hail Marys as her hands have fingers, and by feeling those beads between her tiny little fingers—just as Jesus himself took on flesh and experienced the life of His people in the sensate before He experienced it in words.
The forty days ended, but we kept going. God made it happen. Over forty days, He redeemed my doubt-filled challenge into a tiny mirror of Mary’s fiat.
I can’t say the family Rosary has led us directly into any thrilling adventures, but it has helped us see each mundane moment of the day as an adventure in itself. It’s also helped us see ourselves as one small part of a larger family, the Church, on an adventure of its own, living out the mission of Christ’s presence on earth, trekking through a wilderness in search of a promised heaven. We’ve blessed highways and campsites and vacation rentals with the name of Christ.
And just like any quest, our family has changed along the way. The baby is now old enough to lead a decade herself. The older two are old enough to volunteer at our parish PREP and lead the Rosary there. That convert husband who used to drag his feet into Rosary time has long since taken over my lead.
And me? How have I changed? Frankly, I yell less. I laugh more. I’ve gained patience I’d never imagined would be mine. When I look back on what our family and my life were like five years ago this month, I see that I have been given that peace that Our Lady promised her children through her Rosary one hundred years ago at Fatima. Now I want to share that peace with all the world—with you, Catholic mom.
From the Annunciation to the Coronation, there is no denying that the Rosary is just one big family adventure. It’s an adventure that continues in the life of the Church—including in the domestic church. And how does the adventure start? With a mother. Each step, each bead, takes us in Mary’s footsteps, from “How can this be?” to “Fiat.”
In this monthly column, I’ll be inviting you to adventure along with our family into the graces Our Lady promises us in her Rosary. Have you wanted to start praying the Rosary with your family but can’t imagine how to get started? Have you been praying the family Rosary and want to encourage other moms who want to try but are baffled as to how to start? Have you been trying to share the Rosary with your family but can’t seem to keep on track? Please comment below with your struggles, hopes, dreams and encouragement. I hope our families can help each other on our adventures.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Copyright 2017 Erin McCole Cupp