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.
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
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”.
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
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!