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Faith Formation Ink Slingers Maurisa Prayer Rosary

Praying the Rosary Well

In October the Church celebrates a month dedicated to the Holy Rosary. Many saints have promoted the Rosary as the weapon for these times and as one of the greatest prayers of the Church. For the past 25 years our family has prayed a family Rosary most every night before the children go to bed. That adds up to a lot of “Hail Marys” to be sure and there have certainly been times when I’ve found the prayers to be dry and have allowed my mind to wander unchecked. While a poorly prayed, unfocused Rosary is still better than no Rosary at all; a directed well prayed Rosary is infinitely more effective. If you are like me and often find your mind drifting while trying to pray there several efficacious tools that can bring your meditations back around. 

Scriptural Rosary

One particularly popular method is praying a Scriptural Rosary in which passages related to a particular mystery can be read before the “Our Father” or even between each “Hail Mary”. Resources for this method can be purchased in booklet form or found online.

“The Rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the Rosary is beyond description.” – Archbishop Fulton Sheen

Contemplative Rosary

Recently, during a podcast by Dan and Stephanie Burke, they promoted the Contemplative Rosary App. Available from the Apple store the app has various helps including lovely pictorial works to meditate upon or clausular aspirations said in the middle of each “Hail Mary” to help one recalibrate the mind to the mystery. For example “Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus, who suffered agony in the garden of Gethsamane”.

Virtues Rosary

Another way of looking at the mysteries is to consider the virtues one might find at work in a particular scene. This method is one of my favorites allowing one to hone in upon the virtue manifested in the character of Jesus or the Blessed Mother. One can then ask for an increase in that virtue for oneself or for someone else.

Using the Joyful Mysteries as an example, here is how this method plays out:

1st Joyful Mystery—The Annunciation

Virtues which stand out: humility, gentleness, obedience

Picture Mary serenly at work in her family home when the Angel appears and greets her with the Ave and delivers the message to the Handmaid of the Lord. Mary gently and humbly responds in deference and obedience.

2nd Joyful Mystery—The Visitation

Virtues which stand out: kindness, courtesy, loyalty

Having received Gabriel’s message Mary promptly sets out to visit and assist her cousin Elizabeth out of kindness, kinship, and loyalty. Elizabeth joyfully greets Mary and welcomes her with warmth and affection.

3rd Joyful Mystery—The Nativity

Virtues which stand out: humility, meekness, perseverance

After their long and arduous travels, Mary and Joseph seek a place to stay in Bethlehem. Persevering in the trial, they are led to a stable and our Lord is quietly born in the lowliest of conditions.

4th Joyful Mystery—The Presentation

Virtues which stand out: piety, prayerfulness, obedience

Mary and Joseph faithfully present our Lord in the temple in accord with the laws of their Jewish faith.

5th Joyful Mystery—The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

Virtues which stand out: religion, docility, respect

Having found Jesus in the Temple among the teachers after searching for him for three days, Jesus responds to his parents with docility and respect.

Of course, there are many more virtues which can be pulled from each mystery. These are just a few examples and how I’ve used them to contemplate while I pray. 

“Say the Holy Rosary. Blessed be that monotony of Hail Mary’s which purifies the monotony of your sins!” -St. Josemaria Escriva

Scatterbrained Rosary

What of those evenings when I know my brain is completely shot and diligent concentration is just not going to happen? In this case I have a very simple technique requiring very little effort or focus. For each bead I think of someone—the Holy Father, cardinals, bishops, priests, secular leaders, family members or friends—to offer that prayer for. Just bringing that person to the forefront of my thoughts is a tremendous help in maintaining a prayerful mindset.

 “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

A Weapon for these Times

Currently we have an important election coming up, a seemingly never-ending virus rampaging, and alarming civil unrest. Let’s spend this upcoming month of the Holy Rosary begging Our Lady’s intercession. She’s given us powerful ammunition for spiritual battle. Let’s use it well!

Holy Mary, Queen of the Rosary, pray for us!

Resources:

Online Scriptural Rosary

Scriptural Rosary Book

Contemplative Rosary App

Interactive Virtue Tree

The Rosary is Boring (and that’s Actually Pretty Great)

The World Needs the Rosary Now More Than Ever

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Alyssa Azul Ink Slingers Prayer Rosary

The Gift of the Rosary

The Gift of the Rosary

My very first rosary was given to me by my grandmother when I was around 5 years old, It was blessed in Rome and had a strong but natural fragrance when from what I remember…roses I’m certain.

My grandmother lived in the Philippines, and she would come to visit us in Canada when I was younger. During one of her first visits, she taught me how to pray. I don’t recall ever learning about how to pray the rosary in church or in school, so I owe it to my grandmother for teaching me, among the many things I learned from her. She had a very specific nighttime routine, and praying the rosary was never left out. Sharing a bed, we would pray out loud together before sleeping. I used to follow her, and eventually as I became more familiar, I’d be able to finish on my own when she fell asleep.

The rosary is more than a tradition, and a connection to my grandmother, but in a very important and profound way, it was my shield. During that time, my parents’ marriage was turbulent. Because of how young I was, I can hardly remember a time when they weren’t fighting. This turmoil was my normal. It’s only reflecting on it as an adult, that I am able to understand more of the picture.

Their fights were the loudest and most intense late at night. I remember that my grandmother would push forward with our bedtime routine. We would pray the rosary every night, despite the noise. She was persistent in the prayers, and I drew that fortitude from her. Truthfully, the memory of praying the rosary is more salient than the environment in which we prayed in. 

Now whenever I pick up the rosary, I feel a sense of strength, like a warrior picking up a sword before going into battle. Reflecting on the holy mysteries and saying the words remind me that the power of prayer is great enough to conquer anything I might be facing, tangibly and intangibly. I’ve come to truly understand the role of Our Lady in my life; she’s a tender and upstanding mother, protecting her child under her mantle. At every age, that is her role in our lives and we are always in need of our mother.

The Holy Rosary for me is also a tool to I use in managing anxiety. Focussing on the beads and the repetition of the prayers takes my mind away from the worry. The rosary brings me closer to understanding the life of Jesus, and that his sorrows and joys are like mine, or even greater. This doesn’t eliminate my stress and anxiety completely, but it reminds me of the most important things in my life. I am validated and loved by the greatest Love, which helps redirect my gaze towards eternity, and off of circumstantial things. 

Whenever I feel vulnerable, I hold on to my rosary. I might not always feel it, but I know in my heart that God’s hand is in my life. Since then I’ve been given the chance to embark on a very different journey, praying the rosary with men and women in prison. Using the rosary to pray for each other a deeply moving and powerful, and it reminds me that even if we had nothing but the shirts on our backs, we would still be able to pray using our fingers, meditating on the life of Jesus, and praying the Our Father’s and Hail Mary’s.

I believe one of the best things you can give to someone else is a rosary.


You can read more about the rosary in our archives.

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Ink Slingers Prayer Rosary Victoria K

The Rosary is Boring (and that’s actually pretty great)

The Rosary is Boring (and that's actually pretty great)

A “Boring” Prayer

Sometimes people complain that “the Rosary is boring.” And yeah, sometimes I would have to agree. The scripted words. The stanzas of prayer. The repetition. The seeming lack of personal involvement.  It doesn’t always win the prize as the most dynamic prayer.

But I’d like to suggest that part of its power is in the fact that it’s, well, boring. The Rosary is boring in the eyes of an age that craves novelty, that constantly changes, that centers on the self. Instead, the Rosary offers a script, a rhythm, repetition, and it’s separation from me. These may seem to “dull it down,” but I’ve found that they actually give the Rosary part of its strength

The Script

I’m late on a work project, and another task is coming in. The baby woke up early from her nap, angry.  My husband is gone on another work trip.

I’m alone, incapable, juggling more than I can handle once again.

The headache begins to throb in my temples. Color begins to flood my cheeks. Thoughts run slower, more jumbled. Anxiety. Frustration. Anger.

I know I should pray about it.  But it’s definitely something I know in my head without feeling in my heart.  My emotions want to do anything but pray.

And in the flurry of all of these emotions, what would I even say in prayer?  I definitely don’t have anything nice to say (and, as my father would remind me, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”)

Maybe the Rosary is boring in its script. But this script enables us to pray when we don’t know how.  It is simple and easy to say when we don’t have the mind to think of words.

The Rhythm

Have you ever noticed that there’s a rhythm to the Rosary? Next time you say the rosary, actually say it.  Out loud. Maybe just try it out with a decade if it feels weird saying it out loud for the whole thing.

When I say it out loud, I find that the words fall into patterns. There’s a poetry to the Rosary that lends itself to breathing.

I find that it works something like this:

Inhale: Hail Mary, full of grace.

Exhale: The Lord is with thee.

Or maybe, even slower:

Inhale: Hail Mary

Exhale: Full of Grace

Inhale: The Lord is With Thee.

Intentional breathing is so important. It helps us to center ourselves, to focus better, to calm ourselves.

Maybe the Rosary is boring because the rhythm may seem to lull us to sleep at times. But this “boringness” helps us be mindful of our physical selves during prayer. With the poetry of the Rosary, we can enter the calm.

The Repetition

When my water broke, my darling baby girl decided she was staying put. 36 hours of labor and I’d only dilated 6 centimeters. Yikes.

Throughout that process, mantras were insanely important. A mantra is a short, powerful, motivational phrase, often repeated. During my labor, my husband and my mother would hold my hands and repeat these powerful phrases with me, slowly. I wasn’t capable of thinking (who is at hour 24 of labor?), but these phrases were short and to the point.

We’d come back frequently to “I’m OK, my baby’s OK.”  Over and over again. Instead of being bored by the repetition, I was strengthen by it. The positivity and the calm of this phrase washed over me. It reminded me that even in the worst contraction that I was OK, and my beautiful baby was OK.

Maybe the Rosary is boring because it repeats. But in this repetition is an incredible collection of mantras.  By repeating them, we can let their power wash over us. Just think of:

“Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”

She prays for us. She is with us always, even at our darkest moment. Repeat that, over and over, and we know our mother is with us.

The Separation from Me

Advertising and Social Media encourages us to consider: “How does this apply to me? What does this have to do with me?  What are my thoughts on the matter?”

The Rosary is an invitation for a unique form of peace: detachment from self. When I’m overwhelmed, or anxious, or angry, the Rosary invites me to consider Christ, His Story, His mother’s story.

It reminds me that the story is bigger than me. God’s Will is bigger than me.

I still have a calling, I still have a vocation. God still calls me.

Maybe the rosary is boring because it’s not “about me.” But it gives me so much peace to know that when I mess up, when I sin, when I’m not perfect, the story goes on.

An Invitation

As many of you know, October is the Month of the Rosary. It is an incredible invitation to be intentional about the Rosary. The Rosary might not be your prayer for every season, but in the last week or so of October, I invite you to say the Rosary at least once. Or maybe say a decade of the Rosary for a few days. Let it’s “boringness” give you peace.

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Ink Slingers Misty Prayer Rosary

A Teacup of Grace is Enough

A Teacup of Grace is Enough
Four unique teacups for four unique daughters. An inspired find.

I love fine china.

It started when I worked in the china section of a department store in college, registering brides for their china patterns. I was raised by wolves near Appalachia and my family was so poor we were homeless at times. Once we lived in a tent for four months and another time, in a house with dirt floors. So maybe it’s the elegance and beauty of china that is so appealing to me, because it represents something so different from the squalor in which I was raised.

A few weeks ago, I decided to homeschool my six- and nine-year-old daughters. I have a teacher’s heart, and loved homeschooling my three older children, who are now teens and in public high school. The “littles” and I are starting out with a unit on France, since I’m reasonably fluent and we can weave in foreign language, geography, The Little Prince and Madeleine, St. Therese and St. Joan, and a trip to a local French bakery for macarons.  

Similar to the British, the French also have an afternoon teatime they call “le Goûter,” which consists of tea and sweets to tide them over to their uncivilized dinner hour of 8pm. The idea inspired me to launch our homeschooling venture with a new tradition–every day that my girls do their schoolwork with minimal haranguing, we’ll have a cup of tea and cookies at 2pm. Our own petit le Goûter.

I found some lovely teacups and saucers online and arranged to pick them up one evening. When I got there, I was greeted by Anneke, a gregarious 82-year-old lady who was delighted when I told her how I would be using them. She had won the sets for being one of Avon’s top sellers in past years. As I admired her collection of teacups–and dolls, bells, and beer steins–she  shared some details about her life. She has lived in seven countries, but was born in the Dutch East Indies to missionary parents. When the Japanese invaded the islands during World War II, they put her entire family into a concentration camp. After the war, the Indonesians ousted the Dutch and her family fled to Holland.

As I listened to Anneke, I was struck by how glibly she spoke about this unimaginable suffering in her past.  She spoke about how difficult it was to have her mother, father, and six siblings separated from each other as they were sent to different parts of the camp. Yet there was no bitterness in her voice. In fact, she remained warm and gracious the entire half hour we spent together. 

As I thought about my own struggles over the past few months, it made me realize that the only true antidote to suffering and evil is God’s grace, for that is the only thing that makes forgiveness and healing possible. Through an unexpected source, the Lord reminded me once again that His grace is enough. It is always enough.

As for the teacups, they are beautiful, of course. And I love that every time we use them, I’ll think of this lovely lady and say a prayer for her, because she is proof we can endure anything and not become embittered if we rely on God. Here’s to the indomitable Anneke!

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Anni Ink Slingers Prayer Rosary

Five Ways we Benefit from the Most Holy Rosary

FiveWaysweBenefitfromtheMostHolyRosary

I recently made a meal for new parents, pouring attention, prayers for the new baby, and love into all of the dishes. As I was preparing the meal, I was listening to Christian music, soothed with being able to cook and bake only being interrupted occasionally by the toddler, rather than the two older kids who were at their respective schools. Cook times meant I had plenty of time in the kitchen with my music, and at one point, I briefly considered praying a Rosary with one of my apps. But, I was enjoying the lack of spoken word, and basking in the joy of song and the random groove to the music, and didn’t recite the Rosary that day.

As we fought through traffic to deliver the meal post-school pick-up, my oldest asked why we “always” make a meal for a new family. In a subtle way, he was trying to figure out why the baby didn’t get a new toy. His question made me think of the mystery of The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, and I reminded him that, in the same way that Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, I find it very good to visit new parents and drop off a meal so that they only have to focus on eating and the baby, rather than preparing a meal.

Yet, as the days slipped by, I began to consider the Rosary in a new light. I began to see how the Rosary, as a devotion, brings us close to Christ – and, in an equally amazing manner, radically transforms us into doing what He desires. And, while I can’t say I picked up the Rosary and began praying it immediately in the aftermath of the conversation with my oldest, I can share some of the reasons the ways we have an opportunity to benefit from frequent, if not regular, recitation of the Holy Rosary.

We find ourselves transformed to be more Christ-like. When we sit with the Rosary and contemplate the mysteries and the fruits of the mysteries, we begin to see the Rosary change our own outlook. We stop living in our own world and start seeing those around us in a new light. We have a tendency to begin to look for and recognize the little ways we live out the mysteries in our daily lives. This challenges and encourages us to extend ourselves, even when we doubt our own abilities. We begin to make life about others, rather than about ourselves.

We are brought closer to Christ. The monotony of the memorized verses of the Our Father and Hail Mary affords us the opportunity to get to know the mysteries and the fruits of the mystery a little better. When we pray the Rosary, we are meditating on the life of Christ – significant milestones in His life, from conception through Assumption. While meditating on those, we are able to see parallels in our own lives, that show us the splendor of Christ’s fully human and fully Divine nature. We recognize the frailty of our own humanity, as we meet the perfect nature of love and sacrifice through Christ.

Christ and His life come alive. Sure, we all know the story of the angel appearing to Mary, but how frequently have we contemplated that unique, historic, glorious occasion? We have all read about Anna and Simeon approaching and honoring the baby Jesus in the Temple, but how often have we contemplated the fidelity and faith they held in order to wait year after year for the Savior? We all know the Stations of the Cross, but how often do we have the courage to rest with the events of that fateful, yet necessary for our salvation, day? When we pray the Rosary, we begin to view the events of Christ and His life in a different light. We begin to be active participants in the bible stories we either read as children, or heard aloud read at Mass. In any case, we begin to experience the “stories” of Christ’s life in an altogether different way.

Our relationship with God becomes deeper and richer. As the events of Christ’s life begin to truly unfold, we find ourselves brought deeper into a relationship with a Father Who loves us so much, He sent His only Son to ensure a salvation for our souls. Those who have hardened hearts will slowly start to see them soften, as they begin to recognize the magnanimous love that God holds for each of us. Our souls begin to take refuge in knowing God and loving God, and our actions begin to orient toward God and His will.

We become more confident and courageous. Have you ever noticed small children have confidence that makes them act quickly, surely, and without excuse? As our hearts soften and our relationship with God deepens, we begin to display the confidence we see in little children. We become confident in our role as beloved children of God, and as our faith life becomes richer, we find ourselves leaning more on God’s will, rather than our own. With that comes the confidence to seek, know, and do God’s will, without excuses or remorse.

Praying the Rosary will lead to the most aggressive spiritual attacks, as we begin to find ourselves bombarded with self-doubt, with self-criticism, and even with attacks against our character by other people. The goal of these attacks will be to derail us from reciting the Rosary. It is important that we recognize these attacks for what they are – a mission to drive us further from God.

Yet, even hidden within the first Joyful Mystery, we find the antidote to the attacks that will inevitably come. We will find our source of strength from the humongous fiat uttered by a “small” human girl. If Mary could help us defeat Satan by agreeing to carry our Savior in her womb, then she can certainly help us defeat Satan every time we are tempted to put aside the Rosary for any length of time.

Change is absolutely scary. Praying the Rosary will change us. It will transform each of us, and this transformation in turn transforms the world. In the end, a world transformed for love of God is beautiful.

So, if it has been a day, a week, or even a decade since you last picked up the Rosary, I invite you to join me in picking it up again today. If you can’t commit to praying a daily Rosary, I invite you to join me in starting small. Pray a Rosary once a week – specifically this Month of the Holy Rosary (October), with your goal to truly, radically transform into being the most loving Christian you are able to achieve. Call upon your prayer partners, your Guardian Angel, your patron saints, and more to help you dedicate a greater portion of your prayer life to unfolding the deep mysteries and treasure contained in the Rosary.

As you present a rose to the Blessed Mother with each Hail Mary, and your life begins to radically transform, know that your reward will be great in Heaven. No matter where you are beginning, join me in having faith and trust that with God, all things are possible – especially when we grow with Him through the Most Holy Rosary.