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October- The Most Holy Rosary

October is the month dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary!

One of the most popular devotions ever conceived in the Church has to be the Most Holy Rosary. Developed relatively early in the Church and promoted by various saints including St. Louis de Montfort and St. Dominic, it gives devotees a wonderful opportunity to grow closer to Our Lady. In fact, Our Lady appeared to children in Fatima (an apparition that resulted in another name for Mary– Our Lady of Fatima) to advise praying the rosary every day.

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For those unfamiliar, the rosary is a set of beads strung together in a circle, with an extra set of beads dangling down with a cross at the end. The prayers used include O, My Jesus; Hail Mary; Our Father; Glory Be; Apostle’s Creed; and Hail Holy Queen. Each rosary entails 5 decades of Hail Mary’s in which the person is to reflect on a particular mystery of our faith relating to Jesus or Our Lady.

The mysteries of the Rosary are divided into four categories, three original (Sorrowful, Joyful, Glorious) and one added in 2002 by Pope John Paul II (the Luminous mysteries). When praying the Rosary, typically one category is chosen for reflection during that Rosary.

 

The Mysteries of the Rosary

Sorrowful

  1. The Agony in the Garden
  2. The Scouring at the Pillar
  3. The Crowning with Thorns
  4. The Carrying of the Cross
  5. The Crucifixion and Death of our Lord 

Joyful

  1. The Annunciation
  2. The Visitation
  3. The Nativity
  4. The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple
  5. The Finding of Jesus in the Temple

 

Glorious

  1. The Resurrection
  2. The Ascension
  3. The Descent of the Holy Spirit
  4. The Assumption of Mary
  5. The Coronation of the Virgin

 

Luminous

  1. The Baptism of Jesus
  2. The Wedding at Cana
  3. Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God
  4. The Transfiguration
  5. The Instititution of the Eucharist

 

How to Pray the Most Holy Rosary

There is a suggested order for when to pray different sets of mysteries, though it is merely a suggestion, not a requirement. The suggested allocation is:

Monday            Joyful
Tuesday           Sorrowful
Wednesday     Glorious
Thursday         Luminous
Friday              Sorrowful
Saturday         Joyful
Sunday           Glorious

A versatile type of devotion, the rosary can be prayed by focusing on singular sets of mysteries, or can be prayed with all 15-20 mysteries by adding together all the decades. It is common to add some form of prayer intention, and you can even do a shortened 1-decade prayer.

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Praying the rosary can feel really daunting because of the large number of prayers. But it is good to keep in mind that you do not have to pray it all at once. In fact, you do not even have to remember all the prayer sequence or mysteries to get started! You could have a printout and a physical rosary, or you could use a cell phone app such as Laudate (available for both Android and Apple users), which has an interactive rosary feature allowing you to select the set of mysteries to focus on (it also lets you know which is typically prayed that day of the week), and you tap the bead as you go along. If you don’t know the prayer, or want a reflection on the given mystery, you can tap the prayer next to the labeled bead image and it will provide that for you.  There are also a variety of apps that will pray the rosary aloud for you to follow along. EWTN has a televised rosary as well.

Any way that you choose to pray the Most Holy Rosary, I hope you benefit from the wonderful meditation reflection it provides!

Craft

There are tons of crafts and coloring pages available to illustrate and teach the rosary to children. Here is a wonderful one from Catholic Icing.

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Faith Formation Ink Slingers Prayer Rosary Shiela

The Art of the Rosary: Experiencing the Rosary in Mind, Body, and Spirit

The Art of the Rosary-I discovered a new practice of the Rosary by chance one day when a client of mine cancelled at the last minute. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor with a specialty in Art Therapy and on this day, when the client cancelled, I had prepared a task for the client involving water colors. I had the paper, water, and paints ready and then I got the cancellation call. I had an hour to myself. This doesn’t happen very often to a mother of five, working part time in counseling. I recognized it as a gift. So, I decided to use the time to pray…and paint. These two practices always calm my mind and help me to focus so that I can live the virtues that I preach to my children. I found a recording that included meditations of each mystery of the rosary on Spotify and I played it while I painted. The positive experience led the behavioral scientist in me to discover what had just happened.

God created us as corporeal and spiritual beings in a material world with a desire to be with Him. And, the Blessed Mother was sent by Him to give us the Rosary as a powerful prayer that engages the mind, body, and spirit as we contemplate the mysteries of our salvation. The use of art materials and the art process can further enhance the experience of the rosary in three ways. First, the art process helps to engage the mind in a deeper, more meaningful meditation upon the mysteries. Second, the art process engages the mind and body in a singular purpose and helps to block distractions that often interfere with the meditations. Third, the art process, in conjunction with the cognitive-spiritual prayer process, stimulates connectivity between multiple parts of the brain and can enhance overall brain functioning. In some cases, it may even have the ability to slow or reverse decline in old age.

A More Meaningful Experience

I discovered that the engagement of my hands, the paper, the water, and the paint in the process of painting as I listened to a meditation upon the mysteries allowed me to intentionally hyperfocus on one particular aspect of the mystery. The imagery from the story of our salvation is rich with metaphor and there are unlimited visual aspects of each mystery. Further, each individual has a particular interpretation and may be surprised by some of the images that emerge. For example, the First Sorrowful Mystery is the Agony in the Garden. Within this mystery is the image of Christ in prayer and all that it encompasses: His figure in a humble pose of prayer, His folded hands, the beads of sweat turning to blood, the sleeping companions, the flora and fauna, the animal life, the divinity and the humanity of Christ.

Blocking Distractions

Typically, when I pray the rosary, I massage each bead and tightly close my eyes, spending a great deal of time battling the distractions of everyday life that clamor for my attention. Often, the distractions win. My experience becomes an exercise of frustration and discouragement. This is even more evident when I try to gather my family and I am met with their complete lack of ability to fight off distractions. It is no wonder that Saint Therese said, “Reciting the Rosary costs me more than using an instrument of penance.” She continues, “…in vain do I strive to meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary.” However, in my experience of combining prayer with the art process, I found that distractions had a bigger obstacle to overcome if they were going to interfere with my contemplation. The engagement of my hands with my brain and the paper and paints worked together to keep my prayers on track.

Art of the Rosary Author Quote

Retraining the Brain

Poor Saint Therese! It really doesn’t have to be that difficult. It’s because of our brain: that corporeal component of our creation that was built with a bias toward the negative in order to keep us safe and survive. So, when we pray, our brain starts in with, “You have this stress at work to take care of or you will lose your job and your family will be on the street tomorrow…you have three loads of laundry you must do or your children will go to school naked tomorrow….you handled that last situation badly, you really need to do something about it…now!” And so on. In our contemporary society, however, we are no longer chased by predators at every corner. We can, and should, allow ourselves to chill. But, it will require some rewiring of our brain through intentional practices that engage cognitive and physical functions. This practice of praying the rosary while creating art will help to combat the negative bias and create a more positive bias.

There are a few things to remember when attempting this practice. First, you do not have to be an artist to do this. Second, do not judge what you create, rather, seek to understand it. Lastly, if it helps you to increase your devotion to Jesus, then continue it. If it further frustrates you, then don’t continue. God gave us a conscience and we should listen to it and do all things for the Glory of God. And, remember that whatever you do in an attempt to be with God through prayer will please Him.

For a long time I was sad because of this lack of devotion which surprised me, for I love the Blessed Virgin so much that it should be easy for me to say in her honor prayers which please her so much. Now, it saddens me less; I think that the Queen of Heaven being my Mother, she must see my good will and be content with it.” ~Saint Therese