By Guest Blogger Allison Gingras
In Matthew’s Gospel with concern to prayer, Jesus says, “Pray then like this,” then follows up with the glorious words of The Lord’s Prayer, also known as the Our Father. Oblivious for most of my life of the origins of this prayer, I often resisted reverting to it while in prayer. Ironically, spending my time in my conversations with Jesus asking him to teach me how to pray better, how to grow closer to Him, and how to be more faithful to His teachings.
Had I opened the Scriptures or maybe even paid a little more attention during the readings at Mass, perhaps I would have discovered this connection much sooner. The quote from St. Jerome, “Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ!” was quite fitting of my situation.
The Lord’s Prayer was not the only prayer to which I held a deep aversion. I felt this way about all the rote prayers of my youth. The Glory Be, the Act of Contrition, even the Hail Mary (just to name a few) all fell into this category. I thought these all just boring, insincere prayers taught to me as a child, but now as a “mature” adult I was perfectly capable of fashioning my own prayers or merely engaging in direct dialog with Jesus.
Included in this prayer evasion was the Rosary; partially due to the struggle to stay focused on the counting of the prayers and partially because I had convinced myself that there was very little value to memorized prayer. How foolish I was to discount the rich treasury of prayer that the Catholic faith had provided me.
I have since come to not only appreciate but rely on these prayers.
Here are three unique and unexpected ways I’ve learned to embrace and fully utilize the power of the Rosary:
My mind likes to wander; keeping my thoughts on a subject for longer than 15 seconds can sometimes be a challenge. My short attention span wreaked havoc on my ability to complete a Rosary until the Holy Spirit inspired a perfect plan for my brain. The beads on one of my favorite rosaries slide. As I fingered my way through the prayers, I thought how it sort of resembled a Chinese Abacus. Suddenly, I thought, “What if I use each bead to as a counter – creating a ‘spiritual abacus’?” My idea was to recall a particular person and/or intention as I moved from bead to bead.
Being a very visual person, I picture the person or where they live. That often leads to my mind shifting to, either another person in the same house, or another intention related to the same subject matter. Soon I found myself organizing intentions from decade to decade – praying for 10 women having babies; 10 neighbors from my childhood, or 10 people in need of work or new jobs. Before I knew it, the Rosary was complete, and I had remained on task the entire time. The best part: much-needed prayers had been offered for at least 55 people – though that count was typically much higher as multiple names would sometimes pop into my head halfway through the Hail Mary!
The “Spiritual Abacus” mindset worked wonders to keep me focused (most days), however, there were still lots of external forces in my home vying for my attention. One day the Holy Spirit showed me a wonderful way to overcome that obstacle as well. As I sat down to be the first prayer in a 54-Rosary Novena, I had a nudge to head outside to walk and pray. At first, I chuckled to myself at the thought – I do not DO outside. There are bugs and air (which can sometimes be very cold or oppressively hot), not to mention walking on the roads near my home can be dangerous. Since I could not shake the nagging desire to get outside, I obeyed, hence launching my now (nearly) daily Rosary walk habit.
Quickly I discovered that not only could my rosary walk help me focus but could also help answer my prayer to become a healthier me. I could even use my Rosary to keep track of my exercise time. A Rosary typically takes about 17 minutes to recite, most people aim to move 20 to 30 minutes a day – this equals (roughly) a rosary and a few extra laps. One priest I know prays all four mysteries on his walk helping him reach his hour a day goal. I’ve never been that ambitious; but I have been known to add a Divine Mercy Chaplet and /or an express novena of 9 consecutive Memorare prayers (via St. Mother Teresa) now and then.
Better than Counting Sheep
One of my sweetest childhood memories is the sleepovers at my grandparents’ house. The only trouble was my bedtime separation anxiety. My dad’s parents lived almost an hour away, so bringing me home at 9 p.m., was not an option. My wise and faithful Grammie Perry (as we called her) had the perfect solution. She would hand me her Rosary, and tell me to pray it to fall asleep. “Great idea, Grammie! It is really boring and I will be out like a light in minutes.”
Her plan was far more holy and helpful than that. She wasn’t giving me the rosary to bore me, but to empower me to be brave and fill me with the peace I needed to sleep. My grandmother knew the power of prayer, especially to our Blessed Mother!
So, I would pray it and it would help me sleep; though the next morning there was sometimes this guilty feeling that I fell asleep before finishing all the prayers. Grammie Perry had an answer for that as well. It was her belief, and mine now as well, that if we fall asleep praying, our dear Guardian Angels finish the remaining prayers for us. To this day if I am struggling to fall asleep because I can either not calm my mind after a busy day or I am traveling and my sleeping arrangements are less than ideal, I pull out my trusty Rosary and pray!
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017
Allison Gingras is founder of Reconciled To You, where she blogs, shares and speaks about the Catholic faith in our everyday life and the many opportunities life presents to discover the grace of God! She shares these with great enthusiasm, passion and a sense of humor. Allison is a WINE Specialist overseeing and facilitating the online aspect of the Between the WINES Book Clubs for WINE: Women in the New Evangelization.
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