Categories
Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Mary Prayer Rosary

8 Reasons I {am trying to} Pray the Rosary Daily

I have one memory of praying the rosary as a child. I don’t know how old I was but I’m going to guess it was sometime around my confirmation (8th grade for me). The only thing I remember is being in the church with lots of other students, feeling bored, and wondering just how long this rosary thing was going to take. It made an impression on me. Unfortunately not a good one.

I don’t recall ever praying the rosary again until I was in my 20s. I was coming back to the church after a few years hiatus, and I was in a better place then because I was more interested in learning my faith and trying to find ways to connect to it. Group rosaries were a great introduction at the time and those times were wonderful ways to learn the rhythm of a rosary. I enjoyed praying it and could see the merit in making it a regular habit. For several years I had varying levels of success with keeping up a regular devotion to the rosary. Unfortunately, again, I never developed that daily habit.

Then last year, during late summer/early fall, I participated in a 54 Day Rosary Novena. I was impressed with myself for keeping up with it. I had some accountability, which helped, and when I did miss a day I would often find a way to “catch-up” by saying two rosaries the next day (or within a few days to eventually catch-up with the rest of the group). After 54 days I had hoped it would be a habit that would be easy to continue. But prayer is not easy, it’s a struggle at times due to distractions placed in front of us and the busyness of life. That’s when I decided that a daily rosary was going to become part of my Lenten promises this year.

8 Reasons I {am trying to} Pray the Rosary Daily
Photo Attribution: By Daniel Tibi (Dti) | daniel-tibi.de –  (own work), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

 

I may not have a great track record, but I’m trying. If this is you too, maybe these reasons that I am trying to say a daily rosary will be encouragement to you too.

~1~ Deep Contemplation on the Gospels

If prayed rightly, the rosary should lead us into deep meditation and contemplation on the major events of Jesus’ life. The rhythm of the rosary is predictable, constant. While we say the prayers we should be reflecting on the mysteries, putting ourselves in Mary’s shoes as we watch Jesus carrying the cross or as she searches for him following their visit to Jerusalem. I feel like I have gained a lot more understanding of the Gospels from praying the rosary and that is a good reason to continue doing it.

~2~ The Perfect Companion on Long Car Rides

Or even short ones or any time we can pray while doing something else. My husband used to commute an hour each way to work before he finally moved to the city where we eventually met. During his car rides he would say a rosary. One time, on a drive down to visit my parents, 6 hours away, I put a rosary CD in my car and prayed all 20 mysteries on the ride. I also used to pray a rosary (with the help of a CD) while bottle feeding my twins. My hands were both occupied with bottles and I had nothing else to do at the time. I could have turned on the TV, but the length of their feeding actually worked out perfectly for praying a rosary. A Rosary app (there are lots of them out there) is a great way to say a rosary while taking a walk, on your commute to work, or any time that you have a free 10 minutes or so.

~3~ Powerful Intercessor for Souls

This is the biggest reason I decided on a daily rosary for Lent this year. This Lent I am praying a rosary specifically for those close to me whom I would like to see return to the Church and bring their families with them. The rosary is a powerful prayer!

~4~ Get on Mary’s Good Side, She’ll Nudge Jesus for you

He’s her son afterall! We all know that if you want to get an “in” with someone, befriending their mom is a great way to do it. Yes, we can go directly to Jesus, but why not also have his mother talking you up, too? Seriously though, Mary’s a powerful intercessor. Praying the rosary, something she often encourages and is seen with in reported apparitions around the world, makes us a friend of Mary’s. She’s our mother, too; get to know your mother, pray the rosary.

~5~ Mary said to

Related to #4, Mary has told us to say the rosary. Daily. So basically, mom said we should.

~6~ Great Way to Fall Asleep

The rosary should always be said with the right intention. As long as we intend to meditate on the mysteries of Christ’s life and put forth that effort, it’s okay to use it at the end of our day even if we might fall asleep while doing so. The calming, meditative, consistent rhythm of the prayers can certainly cause you to nod off if you’re not careful. And that’s okay. If you think about, we usually fall asleep with some thoughts going through our heads, they might as well be centered on our Lord as we drift off to sleep at night. And I’ve heard that if you fall asleep while praying a rosary, your guardian angel picks it up where you left off and finishes it for you.

~7~ When You Don’t Know What Else to do

Are you mad and can’t think? Pray a rosary. Are you too upset to string your own words together to ask God for a special intention? Pray a rosary. Are you angry at someone or something and don’t know how to handle it? Pray a rosary. Do you need healing from hurts, mental, physical, or spiritual? Pray a rosary. Are you wired up from an exhilarating day and need a way to calm your body and mind? Pray a rosary.

~8~ I Can’t be More Busy Than Him!

Who? The Popes of recent memory (and I’m sure many, many others as well). Pope St. John Paul II was known for having a deep devotion to Mary and the rosary. He was a busy man! I may complain about my busy life, but if he can pray a rosary (or 3) every day, I can certain fit one in as well. Pope Francis also has a devotion to Mary and the rosary. Again, he’s a busy man. I really can’t hold a candle to the schedule of a world leader. So … I think I can do this!

More inspiring posts and resources on the rosary:

From the website The Most Holy Rosary.com: The Fifteen Promises Granted to those Who Recite the Rosary (also includes all the prayers you need, tons of other information, and so much more!)

From the website Spiritual Direction: My Message from Heaven to Stay Awake and Pray the Rosary by Patti Maguire Armstrong

From Young and Catholic: 5 Reasons Why Young Catholics Should Pray a Daily Rosary

From a blog, Held by His Pierced Hands: I Don’t Like the Rosary-6 Reasons I Pray it Anyway

And two posts from Catholic Sistas on the Rosary: Rosary Walk by Rachel M., and From Loathing to Loving the Rosary by Misty

8 Reasons I {am trying to} Pray the Rosary Daily

Categories
Ink Slingers Marriage Mary Misty Novenas Prayer Resources Rosary Spiritual Growth

From Loathing to Loving the Rosary

rosary1One of the things I love about Advent and Christmas is the extra emphasis on the Blessed Mother. As a motherless Catholic, it’s been easy to embrace Mary as my own mother and I always love hearing the Scriptures about her this time of year. 

For most of my years as a Catholic, however, I struggled with one of the most traditional Marian devotions–the rosary. A year or so after my baptism, I picked up a pamphlet explaining how to do it, bought myself a lovely rosary at the parish bookshop, and settled down to embrace the devotion that countless saints and the most ardent Catholics in my life insisted was a “must” for anyone wanting to grow in holiness.

Except I hated praying the rosary. I found the whole thing pedantic and boring. My mind would inevitably wander…I could either focus on saying the prayers or meditate on the mysteries, but not both. And I could never get more than a few minutes into a rosary without being interrupted. (I even started getting up an hour before the kids, only to have them inexplicably wake up 10 minutes after I started praying. Can we say spiritual attack?)

So I put it aside for a while, trying again six months later. Yet I just couldn’t “get” the rosary the way I could novenas or litanies. I’d try every year or so, with the same effect. By the time I had been a Catholic for a full decade, I had a genuine, personal love for the Blessed Virgin, but the embrace of her most favored devotion still seemed to elude me. Apparently, the rosary was for those “other” Catholics, but not for me.

Then my 20-year marriage went through its worst trial ever as my husband began to experience severe depression as part of his post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He told me he felt emotionally numb; when pressed, he admitted he saw me as nothing more than a really good friend. These are not the words a wife ever wants to hear and I was devastated.

Fortunately, my husband is a humble man and he agreed to get treatment for his conditions. rosaryjpTreatment for PTSD and depression isn’t a quick fix, however, and we both struggled for months in a most profound emotional and spiritual darkness. And there’s nothing like desperation to drive you to any and every devotion that might help.

Years earlier, a devout Catholic woman had told me she’d prayed the 54-day rosary novena for her Baptist husband to convert to the faith. She didn’t tell him she was praying for him; she just prayed and devoted each day’s rosary to his conversion. On Day 53, her husband called from work and casually informed her he’d decided to become Catholic. Today, both husband and wife are Third Order Dominicans and devoted godparents to our fourth child. 

Remembering that story, I decided I had nothing to lose. So for 54 days in a row–I didn’t miss a single day–I slogged through the holy rosary and offered it for my husband’s healing. At first, I hit the same old stumbling blocks as before: boredom, mental distraction, interruptions. But I was desperate enough to persevere this time. By the time I finished the first half of the rosary, I’d prayed it every day for a month and the devotion had been transformed for me. I actually looked forward to praying the rosary each day. I was better able to meditate on the mysteries while praying the Hail Marys, too. If I couldn’t sleep or found myself anxious, I’d start praying the rosary almost reflexively. I began to have beautiful insights about the events of Jesus’ life that I hadn’t had before. 

I finished the entire 54-day novena. Three days later, my husband told me he’d been washing his truck when a strong sense of just how important I was to him flooded his soul. As more time passed, that feeling only grew for him, as he recovered from the depression and began to feel emotionally reconnected to me and our children. His PTSD symptoms also began to abate. For a full year, he hadn’t been able to sleep at night; some nights, he got no more than two hours’ sleep as the severe anxiety kept him wired and awake. A month after I finished the rosary, he was falling asleep on his own and sleeping all night. His recovery was nothing short of miraculous and I credit the Blessed Mother, of course. By God’s grace, our marriage emerged stronger for the trial. 

The crisis in my marriage brought me to my knees and led me to a devotion I was sure wasn’t for me. Now, praying the rosary is simply an act of love that I do for a variety of causes; right now, I’m praying for another family that needs a miracle as much as we did. 

Whether you’re interested in overcoming your own difficulties with the rosary, are interested in praying the 54-day miraculous novena, or just want to make the rosary a regular devotion, I offer two aids: 

  1. A list of tips for praying the rosary that can be found HERE , and
  2. A chart to help you keep up with the 54-day rosary novena HERE.

I welcome any of you who are regular prayers of the rosary to share your tips in the comments section. What works for you, sisters and brothers?

rosaryfrancis

 

Categories
Charla Ink Slingers Prayer Rosary Spiritual Growth

Tis the Season for weight loss?

ornamentThis is probably the wrong time to broach the subject of weight.  Advent and with Christmas time is not when we want to think about losing or maintaining our weight.  In celebrating this time of year, food is often at the center of our parties and exchanges: potlucks at work, Christmas parties, New Year’s parties—food is all around us.  All the eating often instigates regret; we overeat, over-imbibe, too much sugar, too many rich foods.  We lament the weight gain that comes with this time of year. We do not turn down food offered to us, because we know, “Jenny’s famous apple pie is to die for.” Others prepare dishes as an expression of love for others in their lives, and to turn down such a gift would be offensive.  I find myself in this position every holiday season, and this year I decided to head this off before I got in over my head.

Now, I am not at a weight that I am comfortable with.  I am a yo-yo.  My weight goes up and down frequently.  I have had three significant weight losses in my adulthood, followed by three reversions to the original weight I had started out with.  The first two gains were due to pregnancy—never took off that “baby weight.”  The third was graduate school—no time to exercise or plan meals.  I have had a million excuses.  I know I will get to that frame of mind to get back on that horse and lose the weight, but that time is not now.

However, it is eating season.  I told myself I cannot let myself gain any more than I already have.  I need a means of maintaining so that my health does not suffer and keeping up with an eight year old little dancer is not a labored effort.  Vanity is no longer the issue it was when I was younger, but this is a matter of being a disciplined individual in all aspects of my life, so that is where my faith comes in.  I believe that God wants me to be a person who is not gluttonous, but not vain either.  Losing weight is often about looking a certain way, but at this point in my life, I find it is about focus and discipline– two attributes that will help lead me to Heaven. If I look at it that way, losing weight serves a greater purpose.

I need to move my body more and celebrate this gift that God has given me. My body is capable of running and dancing and jumping and playing.  A stagnant body does not celebrate the gift God has bestowed me with. Focus and discipline of course are parts of exercise; I need to initiate these more in this realm as well. All this takes strength, strength I am not always sure I have.memorare

I know that when I need strength, I must turn to prayer, so why should my weight loss or weight maintenance or exercise efforts be any different.  I decided to ask God for discipline this season: to enjoy food as sustenance and for the love with which it was prepared, but not to overdo it.  I started a 54 day Rosary Novena which will end at Christmas. This has helped me with discipline of prayer.  Every morning before I begin my day, I pray this meditation, asking Mary to intercede on my behalf for the intention of strength and discipline, among other intentions.  I follow up the Rosary recitation with a Novena to Mary prayer, acknowledging my struggles and weaknesses, and then complete my prayer with The Memorare.

After several weeks of this, I have found that I am empowered when it comes to food.  I am not serving myself as much in quantity; gluttony is not overtaking me.  I look at food and appreciate it more for aspects other than taste: the amount of love that went into preparing it, the energy that it sustains. I am not looking at myself in the mirror with disgust any longer.  (Yes, unfortunately, I was doing that too often.) I have no inclination to weigh myself either. I do not know if I have lost weight over the last several weeks, but my clothes are not quite as tight.  I am becoming motivated to exercise and offering it up as a way of praying and valuing the healthy body I have been given. I have prayed the Rosary while working out on the treadmill– walking the Our Father, and running the Hail Marys.  When I have found myself wanting to eat out of stress or boredom, I ask the Blessed Mother for her intercession.  A simple Hail Mary usually helps.  I have sampled holiday goodies, but I am not serving myself full pieces of pies or pastries.  I pray I can continue to use this strategy to get into an earnest mindset of significant weight loss by becoming disciplined in my eating and exercise habits.

scaleWeight issues plague so many of us, hopefully my approach might help someone else who has these same struggles.  Are there any strategies associated with your faith or prayer that have helped you become healthier and disciplined?

 

Categories
Faith Formation Fatherhood Hannah Ink Slingers Loss Motherhood NFP and contraceptives Prayer Respect Life Rosary Vocations

Babies are Always Welcome

My Husband and I recently announced our second pregnancy. You can read more about our first daughter here, but long story short, she died two days after birth. It has taken us twenty (20) months to get pregnant again and we are over the moon. So too, it would seem, is everyone who hears our happy news! It has been a struggle since losing Rita and there were many days where getting out of bed was an accomplishment.

From the moment I saw the two lines on the test (more in that in a moment) I’ve felt as though the sun has come out again. Joy has returned to my life. A close friend of mine spent 6+ years dealing with secondary infertility after the birth of her daughter and is now due in April. Back in August when she found out she was expecting she informed me that she was offering up her joy for me. That has really stuck with me and it has given me strength on dark days. I’ve been trying to do the same for others now that my joy has returned.

A few months after Rita came and left us so quickly, I began to wonder why my cycles hadn’t returned. I went to a Creighton Instructor and learned the nitty gritty of that particular charting method. I was always aware of my cycles but my husband and I are of the belief that unless we have a very grave, life shattering reason to abstain, we will be open to life so I never charted. Besides, you could’ve set a clock by my 30.5 day cycle. Seriously!

As such, it became more and more of a concern as six, ten, fourteen months passed with no cycle and no help from the Creighton Instructor beyond: “You’re stressed.” In cooperation with my family doctor (I was so sad to leave her behind when we moved across country!) we realized that as I’d believed all along: I was not under too much stress, I was on too much thyroid medicine. I came off the medicine for a month and at that point (when the shakes and heart palpitations had all but disappeared) I started taking half the dose I’d been on previously.

Within two weeks my cycle had returned but the first few were anovulatory. I was using both the Creighton model and a Clear Blue Fertility Monitor and soon things seemed to become regular. Of course, that happened just as my husband left for a four-month long Air National Guard School way down in Mississippi. Life continued on. I was working full-time and we were saving all our pennies to be able to pay of his student loans, as he had just finished grad school before heading to MS. He came home, got a job in Massachusetts and we headed east.

I started a new cycle just days before we moved. (Fun times eh?) A little over a month later, I was in a MOOD! My husband finally asked if it was PMS that was causing me to be *Oh-so-nice* to him. I snapped out a maybe which got his attention…

“What do you mean ‘maybe?’ When are you due?”

“ Could’ve been last Friday, might not be for another week I don’t know!”

“Are you going to take a pregnancy test?”

“NO! I’m not pregnant! I’m sure I didn’t ovulate last month! All signs point to crazy!”

*End of discussion – lights out – I went to bed*

The next afternoon, I found out from a wonderful friend that she had organized several ladies to say a 54-day Rosary Novena for me to conceive. As I read the little email from her a voice in the back of my head – you may have heard from Him at various points in your life – whispered that I should take a pregnancy test. My first thought was “Yeah, Right!” (That’s the only double positive that makes a negative!) And then I heard the whisper again. “Take a pregnancy test.”

So I trotted myself upstairs and decided that since I was pretty sure that this too would be a negative result I was going to use one of the internet cheapies I’d been going through like candy the past few months. I wasn’t going to waste the last expensive brand name one from the package I’d bought the month before. So I did my duty and dunked the little stick. The positive line showed up right away but no control line…great…a dud! So I decide to whip out the big guns and grab the Brand name test. By the time I’d dunked it and counted to fifteen the control line had shown up on the original test. Not a dud. Positive! Within seconds the Brand name test showed the same result. Positive!

I still don’t know why it took so long and I won’t know until the day I face my Maker. I do know that it is much easier to trust that rain is good when you are standing under a rainbow.

I hope to hold on to this joy.

The joy of those in our life who’ve heard has been, at times, tangible. More than one person has said that they could not be happier if it were they who were pregnant or their grandchild on the way. It is my hope that the people who are so happy for us now will remember that joy years from now when, God willing, we announce a fourth, fifth or sixth pregnancy. It is my hope, but I’m not holding my breath! I have always believed that a baby is a blessing no matter the circumstance surrounding their birth, but I see that in such a clearer light now. My prayer now is that all eyes be opened to the truth of that statement. Babies are a blessing, no matter the circumstances surrounding their birth.