The Rosary drifts in and out of my life. Seasons change, lifestyles are uprooted, and my interest in the prayer waxes and wanes. Yet, same as the beads scattered across the dining room buffet, it remains within reach.
October is the Month of the Holy Rosary, and I’m bothered by the fact the Rosary isn’t part of my routine the way it once was. I had no experience with a family recitation of the Rosary, so praying it privately during my daily commute for years suited me just fine. Then the commute ended, and I’ve struggled ever since.
Add to the fact that family prayer with young children – at least my young children – is frustrating and aggravating at best. I breathed a sigh of relief when I read this post on a family Rosary that resembles prayer in our household. I’m so weary of the gentle suggestions to provide little ones with pretty pictures to look at and coloring books to use so that they can follow along quietly. Ain’t gonna work here.
I can’t recall a time we’ve gotten through bedtime prayers, which last less than five minutes, without multiple calls to “kneel,” “stop climbing on me,” “leave your sister alone,” be quiet,” etc. There is NOTHING calm, peaceful, or satisfying about it. It is a cross with only glimmers – very small, distant glimmers – of devotion.
Yet I’d never consider abandoning bedtime prayers.
Here’s why I haven’t abandoned the idea of the Rosary despite repeated bouts of boredom and circumstances that make its recitation less than appealing.
- It’s flexible and portable. The mysteries and prayers have long been committed to memory. Got a few minutes? Time enough for a decade. Forgot your beads? Still have ten fingers. Driving, waiting, lying in bed, walking? Got you covered.
- It fits every mood and need. Discouraged and suffering? Try the Sorrowful Mysteries. Happy and grateful? Pray the Joyful mysteries. Humbled and awestruck? Go with the Glorious Mysteries. You get the idea. It’s adaptable.
- My relationship with Mary. I’ve always been comfortable turning to Mary in times of need, begging her to go to her Son. There’s nothing quite like a mother’s love, especially when the mother is sinless, pure and yet fully human.
- It brings peace. And sleep. There’s something calming about the prayers, whether it’s the repetition, the familiarity, or the words themselves. It’s still my go-to prayer in times of trouble when more then a quick prayer or plea is warranted. It’s also an effective sleep-inducer, as I’ve counseled kids with occasional bouts of insomnia.
- So many resources to keep it fresh. Need a boost? I do. There are all sorts of aids and books. It’s time for me to re-read this book – The Rosary: Keeping Company with Jesus and Mary. (My short Amazon review.)
- The mixture of repetition and contemplation. Paradoxically, it’s both the same and different every time.
- The beads. They can be rough-hewn and masculine, intricate and dainty, or chunky and coated in primary colors. You can go plastic, glow-in-the-dark campy or finely-detailed and handmade. To each his own. These lovely beads recently caught my eye.
- Holier people than me recommend it. Starting with Mary. And lots of saints. Do I have to say it? Nope. Should I? Yep.
- The Hail Mary. In my estimation, except for the Our Father, a prayer doesn’t get more perfect than this. Most Catholics have rattled it off a bazillion times. It’s worth examining. Sarah Reinhard’s new book, Word by Word: Slowing Down with the Hail Mary is the perfect tool for doing so. I recommend it.
- It can be fun. Living rosaries, rosaries prayed during a cemetery procession. My school-age children participated in a Rosary with balloon launch last week.
BONUS: The bling factor. We’ve all seen rosaries dangling from rearview mirrors or hanging from celebrity necks. (You can Google the celebrity images. Some are repulsive. Some are respectful. Like anything else, its propriety depends on the spirit with which it’s done.)
I’ve wasted more time than I should trying to gauge whether a celebrity is wearing a rosary or something else. Is it a rosary or a “miracle icon”?
What’s your relationship with the Rosary? Do you struggle with it? Do your kids attempt to choke one another with their beads? Do you think celebrities wearing them is a sacrilege?