By: Megan Naumovski
“The Rosary is the Bible on a string” —Fr. Ronan Murphy
By design, to participate in praying the Rosary is a spiritual journey through the life of Christ, accompanied by his Blessed Mother in a multi-sensory experience. In the past two weeks of this Month of the Rosary, I have heard several stories of fallen away Catholics who even refused to let go of their rosary for the great peace it brings them.
For as much as the Rosary is a favored devotion of most practicing Catholics, there are a lot of funny ideas going around about it. Over the years people have shared some quirky stories about this “necklace” of beads. Each anecdote taught me a little something for my own rosary embrace each day. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said,
“The Rosary is the best therapy for these distraught, unhappy, fearful, and frustrated souls, precisely because it involves the simultaneous use of three powers: the physical, the vocal, and the spiritual…”
Rushing the Rosary
A group of men and women friends had a conversation about how long it took them to “say” their rosary. “How long does it take you, Meg?” they asked me.
Honestly, I had never timed myself, but I knew with the way my brain works the answer was going to astound. “Um, maybe 35 min?” Some of the “competitors” were saying “I can get mine down to 5 minutes and 30 seconds!” It was a silly conversation, but it got me wondering…what is the amount of time it should take say a proper rosary?
Soon after, I listened to different rosary podcasts. I noticed that they varied in recitation time. Some rosaries only took 18 minutes–without any bells or whistles—to between 30-45 minutes if you added music, scriptures or prayed in Latin. Which one is right for me?
In the end, the amount of time really does not matter. Whatever pace you take, let it be one of a rhythm that lulls you into the spiritual state. The rosary can be like music. Whether your tempo is adagio (slowly with great expression) or allegro (fast, quickly an`d bright), you need to find the count that allows your heart and mind unite to the heart of Christ.
Praying it in a group or as a family
Once during a homily, our pastor told us the story of his family rosary growing up. One uncle, who usually lead the prayer, was always messing up the order of the Apostles’ Creed.
Because he spoke the prayers with lightning speed, the whole family would crack up every time one of the aunts would stop him in the middle of the first minute to ask if he was sure he got the order right. “Jesus ascended into Heaven and then descended into hell…” and then the argument ensued.
Since there was no Google at the time, it became part of the weekly family rosary to stop and discuss this finer point. Once the giggles stopped and the concentration was reeled back in, the family rosary commenced again. St. John Paul II proclaimed, “How beautiful is the family that recites the Rosary every evening!”
Praying it all
“Just pray your rosary as you fall asleep. The angels will finish it for you”.
While struggling to “check” my rosary off for the day like an errand, I had to run when someone once gave me the advice above. Just let the angels finish saying it for me as I fell asleep. Later, the same person told me she later mentioned this in confession and the priest responded with, “Yes. And the ANGELS get the credit, too.”
Falling asleep to the rosary at times is easy to do. As stated above, there is a certain rhythm to the prayers which is meditative and comforting. Conversely, people I know have said they keep their rosary by the bed because they sense when their eyes pop open at 3:00 am, they are supposed to pray for a soul in trouble. This is the stuff of saints! A friend in our prayer group reminded us that being on your knees is a much better way of keeping alert during prayer when possible and much more reverent.
Start small and be consistent in prayer
When I first started spiritual direction, I was told to make sure to say at least one decade a day for my husband. As a starting point, I felt my assignment was realistic.
Later, I knew I could do better. I started to add more decades, attempting to keep up with a few friends who were more diligent with their devotion to the rosary. Before I knew it, however, I was rattling off decades and getting to the “Hail Holy Queen” prayer at the end before looking behind me like “Did I actually pray those decades?” In the end, if I didn’t remember praying them, I knew it wasn’t really prayer. I had reduced this beautiful prayer to a habit.
It has been recognized by many saints that just saying one Hail Mary with your whole heart is worth more than thousands said with our mouths alone. St. Louis de Montfort plainly stated, “Recite your Rosary with faith, with humility, with confidence, and with perseverance.”
“Our Lady’s Warriors” say it well on their website: The Power of One Hail Mary
Praying with purpose
We cannot even begin to understand the graces behind this powerful weapon, as named by the great Saints, Padre Pio, Louis de Montfort, and Dominic. With the power of such a devotion, you would think we should “wield” it intentionally, but so many Catholics I know couldn’t explain the rosary to non-Catholics. Still yet they aren’t even sure the purpose behind the prayers.
I remember one couple we knew who were married . The husband he was Catholic and the wife wasn’t. She was very strong in her non-Catholic Christian faith. As the wife brought up one thing after another that she did not understand about Catholicism, the rosary at the top of her list, I looked at him and asked why he didn’t tell her? He answered, “I don’t know.” And by that, he meant he didn’t know the answers, but he still identified himself as Catholic.
Solving the Mystery of the Mysteries of the Rosary
What we need to know above all, is that the rosary is a set of five mysteries. Each decade of beads that is entwined in our fingers—not just with wooden, plastic or glass beads—but also entangled with the extending fingers of our Divine Mother—Mary.
As we speak the Hail Mary from the words of Luke’s gospel, she directly leads us through Jesus’s most precious life moments. We see him incarnate into his mother’s womb, meet John the Baptist in utero, hear about Christ’s birth, witness Jesus enter into the temple for dedication, and ponder Joseph and Mary’s joy after finding Jesus in the temple.
Our hearts wrench with pain as we see him sweat blood with our sins bringing a painful crucifixion commencement: whipped, stabbed in the head with thorns, walking the Via Dolorosa (way of sorrows), and his death on the cross.
We continue to ponder the Glorious mysteries of his resurrection as well as miraculous encounters with his mother and the apostles with the remaining Glorious and Luminous mysteries. The Rosary retells Jesus’ entire life!
The best part of all, is that you not only hold his beautiful mother’s hand throughout this journey, but you grab the hands of all of those you know who need protection and prayer. Behind you comes a long line of souls—as many as you can imagine—along on the spiritual pilgrimage that is the rosary.
Wisdom from the saints on the Rosary
“You must know that when you ‘hail’ Mary, she immediately greets you! Don’t think that she is one of those rude women of whom there are so many—on the contrary, she is utterly courteous and pleasant. If you greet her, she will answer you right away and converse with you!”
Saint Bernardine of Siena
“When the Holy Rosary is said well, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious than any other prayer.” –Saint Louis de Montfort
The Rosary is the Weapon.~St. Pio
The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.~Pope Pius XI
Megan Naumovski is on a mission to remind the world of the love God has for each and every soul, and how that love deserves our response. Every day she is a wife and mom in her domestic church, but in the world she helps lead others to Christ though ministry leadership, teaching, speaking and blogging at The Domestic Church of Bosco, http://boscoworld.blog.