I will be the first to admit to you, I have never felt a strong connection to the Rosary in the past. I knew I should pray it more often; I knew that people had experienced great comfort and a closeness to God by praying it. Growing up, I heard of many popes, saints, and laypeople declaring how powerful it can be. To be completely honest with you, I didn’t get it. Sure, I love and have a devotion to Mary. She is our spiritual mother. But the idea of taking twenty to thirty minutes to repeat fifty Hail Marys made my head spin. Why repeat prayers over and over? What benefit could this bring to an ordinary person, like me? I’m not a theologian. What exactly am I supposed to focus on? The mysteries, the gifts of the spirit, the prayers themselves? Can’t I benefit from simply talking to God using my own words, versus an organized prayer? I’m not sure what led me, then, to praying the Rosary every day for two weeks.
I met a woman at a church gathering recently who had a traveling Fatima statue, and asked if anyone would like to take it home to use as a reminder of the message of Fatima and take some time to grow closer to Our Lady. The statue had traveled from family to family, and was up for grabs. My mom was coming into town for two weeks so I thought to myself, “Sure, why not?” I’d been looking to make more time for prayer, and I knew my mom would encourage me. When she arrived the words spilled out of me, “We are going to pray the Rosary every day for our friend’s intentions.” This must have truly been from the Holy Spirit, because I had never volunteered to do such a thing before. So what did I learn from the experience?
I learned obedience. Anyone who knows me knows I can be a bit of a wild spirit. I don’t like to be told what to do. Taking time out of my day to pray the Rosary wasn’t something I always wanted to do. This is pretty ironic, if you think about it. Mary obeyed God in all things with joy and without hesitation. I found myself reflecting on that throughout my time spent praying alongside her those two weeks. What was I fearful of losing control over in my life? What would it feel like, to have complete trust in God’s will? Was God asking something of me, and I was hesitating? “Let it be done as You say,” she told the Lord. I began to say “yes” to God more often in my life as well.
I always learned or reflected on something new. There were some days I would reflect on the intentions that others had given me, some I would reflect on the mysteries, some on the virtues of Mary, some on the prayers themselves, and sometimes I would simply be. I would rest in the Spirit, letting any thoughts float through my mind like a cloud in the sky. I would take time to listen to what God was trying to tell me that day. Even though I was saying the same prayers over and over, I always found a new message for me each time.
I noticed that things became more difficult. In my experience, when I draw closer to God I seem to always have something stressful or difficult pop up in my life. I wasn’t perfect when I encountered those things, sometimes losing my patience or being uncharitable. When I began to pray the Rosary that day or even the next day, I’d almost always encounter a virtue that could have applied to that situation. I would reflect on how I could have and will apply that virtue in the future. I’d find myself smiling and shaking my head, knowing God was parenting me and giving me guidance.
I began to forgive and pray for those who have hurt me. Something you should know about me is I mess up, but I always apologize. I was raised to be honest no matter what, and that includes being honest with myself. When I hurt people, I apologize for it. Unfortunately I sometimes have difficulty on the other end of things. Forgiveness may come, but I have trouble forgetting. Spending time in prayer – especially meditative prayer – gave me time to listen and to reflect. In that time, God would occasionally put a person on my heart. I would groan internally. You want me to pray for them? Why? The answer came: because you need to forgive them and love them as I forgive and love you. While difficult, I did it. And you know what? Some of my wounds were healed. I was able to not only forgive, but forget. I obtained peace in my heart.
I drew closer to God. Here’s the thing I don’t think a lot of people get, because I know I didn’t: In spending time with Mary, I spent more time getting to know Jesus. As I mentioned previously, Mary’s entire life pointed towards our Lord. Every action, every word, every breath. She wants nothing more than to draw us to Him. She is an example of how to live faithfully. In saying the Hail Mary we are asking her to pray for us and with us. Pope Pius XII once said, “the Rosary is the compendium of the entire Gospel.” Each decade is dedicated to a moment in Christ’s life. I took the time each day to reflect on His life and the importance of each of those events, the mysteries they contained.
While these two weeks have drawn to a close, I know that I will take these lessons with me. Some amazing things happened in those two weeks. Certain prayers I have had on my mind and heart have been answered, or begun to be answered, in that time. I thank God for that, and I thank Him for letting me get to know Him and Mary more.
Copyright 2020 Christie Anne Luibrand