I struggle. I resist. I forget.
Often, I get distracted and other times, I hurry through it.
I’ve tried avoiding it, and I’ve used the excuse that I’m no good at it, but it keeps coming back around as something I just have to do.
And so, over the years, I’ve accumulated a pile of resources that help me in praying the rosary. I’ve found that in the struggle to pray the rosary, there’s also beauty in trusting that God will take what I give him, just as I take the pictures my four-year-old draws for me. I cherish her artwork, and I’m sure Mary and Jesus treasure my imperfect prayers the same way.
In case you struggle with the rosary too, here are a few of my favorite books and resources.
- Rosary Meditations for Real Life, by James M. Hahn – I have to be honest with you: I know Jim. I “met” him through the wonders of life in the same Diocese and because of the Catholic blogosphere. His book always tops my list of rosary resources, though I hardly ever have a copy long enough to dog-ear it: I end up giving them away as quickly as I get them, to friends or associates who struggle with the rosary. He offers an approach to the rosary that’s unlike any other I’ve found: he looks at it in everyday life AND he gives you a phrase to insert into each Hail Mary, which keeps me focused on what I can relate to and helps me from going mechanical during the prayers. It’s an approach that speaks to me. He has some free downloadable material at his website, though I recommend just buying the book.
- The Scriptural Rosary – This is another resource I end up giving away, though my current copy’s getting nice and worn-in — it’s a little blue book — the link above is an awesome online resource, but you can find a printed version from any of your favorite Catholic bookstores or even on Amazon. For every Hail Mary, there is a verse from Scripture. It helps me to stay focused in much the same way that Jim Hahn’s book above does.
- RosaryArmy.com – Have you ever been here? No? Well, from instructions on how to make all-twine knotted rosaries to downloadable rosaries (even the scriptural rosary!), this is THE site for everything rosary. Though I’ll probably never be crafty enough OR coordinated enough to make my own rosaries, I love this site. Go check it out.
- Mondays with Mary, by Meredith Henning – I have only recently discovered this book, but it has earned its place on my desk. It’s a collection of celebrations — complete with crafts and recipes and appropriate prayers — for Mary’s feast days. You might think this is a bit off-topic for a post about rosary resources, but sometimes I find it helpful to slip into my devotion through “the back door,” and I gain inspiration from related materials. This is one such resource.
- The Glories of Mary, by Saint Alphonsus Liguouri – I spent months reading this book, and I’m glad I read it slowly. It’s a classic for a reason, and I’m pretty sure I could have just opened it to any page and read. It is also on my desk and is a reference for any moment when I feel like I just can’t do it, whether it’s praying a good rosary or struggling through my daily life.
- The Rosary: Keeping Company with Jesus and Mary, by Karen Edmisten – This is one of my favorite books of all time. Don’t let my enthusiasm turn you off, though. You’ll find instructions on the how’s and why’s of praying the rosary, but you’ll also gain insight into a convert’s bumbling and enthusiasm for this devotion. Give yourself a treat and read this book during October and see if it doesn’t help your rosary prayer life.
- Sung Rosary, by Susan Bailey – This is something completely different. Of the list of resources I’m sharing, this is one that has me by the short hairs. At first, I thought it was a little weird to sing the rosary, even though I do love to sing. Then I found myself at a rosary impasse, just unable to do it well one more day. I flicked on my iPod and turned on the Sung Rosary. WOW! Sometimes, just having Susan’s voice in the background is enough to calm me down. And when I’m out walking the dog and belting out the prayers, the whole concept of singing as praying twice hits home in a whole new way.
What are your favorite resources? Share them in the comments, and let’s spend this Month of the Rosary encouraging each other to embrace this devotion with greater enthusiasm!
Copyright 2009 Sarah Reinhard