October is the Month of the Holy Rosary. Yearly it serves as a challenge and reminder to me to pray the Rosary, to use it as a weapon, and to foster it within my family culture. Hopefully, this article and video inspire you to start or rekindle the Rosary into your daily habits.
Our Childlike Attempts
I have a vivid memory in Basic Training at the United States Air Force Academy, being handed a blue plastic Rosary and a how-to pray card. When I was alone in my room, I sat down to pray and honestly had no idea how the prayers and beads went together.
There were four sets of mysteries but five groupings of smaller beads. There were five mysteries per set and yet ten beads per set. I now know that we use the sets on different days and the mysteries themselves with the five sets of 10 Hail Marys. But, even writing this, I find it confusing to discuss!
I know that my attempt was not the traditional way to pray the Rosary, but just like when my kids try something and totally fail, I find joy in their effort and know my heavenly father smiled as I attempted something new and foreign. It was a step towards growth and developing a prayer life. This simple failure was an attempt to unite myself to Christ to meet him and change my life. If we don’t try, nothing can change.
This desire led to an almost daily commitment to praying the Rosary throughout college. I was invited to a Rosary group, who wind, rain or snow stood outside in Colorado in the middle of the Air Force Academy campus. The Rosary helped me learn about Saints people who had gone before me in this race, about Mary but most importantly about Christ and his life. It became an accessible and habitual form of prayer as I continued to meet and foster a relationship with God.
I think it is critical to remember that it is our intention that is more important than our correctness. We need to remember why we are praying the Rosary and not be there to check the box. And as we are continually saying to our children, “Every time we try, we get a little bit better.” This applies to the Rosary but also our prayer life in general.
First, we learn the how-to of the prayers, what the words are and how they fit together. Then we build and train our ability to enter into contemplative prayer, to understand better the life of Christ and where he is calling us in our vocations.
We want to know where God is calling us, what our worth is, and just who he is. But often, we are not willing to give the time and the concentration to prayer. We don’t trust that we really can hear him and that he is speaking to us.
The Battle of Prayer
The Rosary is a spiritual weapon. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us in paragraph 2725 that, “Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle.” I love this paragraph because it highlights the difficulties of prayer and challenges me to join in the battle to fight against my own temptations and those of the Devil. And we need spiritual weapons to help us fight a spiritual battle.
It goes on to state that we need to foster habitual actions because we pray as we live. If our life is not focused on Christ and listening to the Spirit, our prayer life will also fall short in these ways (CCC 2725). We are called to build a habitual prayer life, and a great tool is a regular Rosary.
A Rosary helps in the constant difficulty of prayer distractions (CCC 2729). It allows us to use both vocal prayers of the Hail Marys, Our Fathers, and Glory Be, combined with meditation and contemplative prayer over the Mysteries. So even when our mind wanders in contemplating Christ’s life through the Scriptures captured in the Mysteries, we are using scripture-based prayers and words to bring us vocally back to the purpose of praying without ceasing in the love of Christ (CCC 2742).
In this video we discuss the history of the Rosary, where the prayers of the Rosary come from and a how to pray the Rosary. Check it out as you reflect on the below questions or discuss with a group.
1) What struck you most about the video?
2) What new take away did you have on the Rosary’s history, and where the prayers’ origins?
3) What was your first experience of praying the Rosary?
4) What do you enjoy about praying the Rosary? What do you find challenging?
5) What other questions do you have on the Rosary? Will you spend the time seeking the answers to deepen your why and actions with the Rosary?
Call to Action
Where can you incorporate the Rosary into your prayer life? Into your family culture? Will you commit to a regular or daily habit of the Rosary?
Check out our favorite books on these topics and Rosaries here.