I learnt to pray the Rosary at the home of my paternal grandparents.
In the evenings, perhaps at the end of a TV programme or in an Ad break, either Grandma or Grandad would without a word get up, turn down the volume on the TV, and kneel on the floor with elbows in the seat of their armchair as the others in the room did the same. Rosary beads were taken from the mantelpiece or a pocket and, again without a word of introduction, one would begin the Rosary with the profession of faith “I believe in God…”
I was fortunate in those early years to learn to pray the Rosary by mind – (memorising the prayers, Mysteries and Decades of the Rosary) and by heart – I had a sense of the connection between the scriptural reflections of the Rosary and my own life, sometimes my sense of a new beginning (The Annunciation or the Resurrection), or hope in the midst of a struggle (The Agony in the Garden).
I noticed people praying the Rosary in every kind of situation, not only pious people in church but my Grandfather as he moved sheep across the farm, and more recently seeing patients struggling in hospital grasping Rosary Beads and even unconsciously praying as their beads moved as if on auto-pilot through their hands.
Many today see the Rosary as a prayer for older or conservative people. However my experience of the Rosary is as a contemporary and lively engagement in the mysteries of the life of Jesus Christ, a medley of vocal prayer, meditation, contemplation woven together with my many distractions and daydreamings.
Some days as I set out perhaps on the Joyful Mysteries beginning with the Annunciation, I am focussed and engaged not only remembering Mary’s yes to God, but moving through ten Hail Mary’s pondering my own yes to God, then my no and yes again.
Then there are other days when my mind is all over the place, the classic monkey-mind, and before I know it my thumbs have completed a full circle of the beads and I am Hail Holy Queening.
But it’s all prayer, all of it, every mystery every bead dedicated by my desire to be one with Jesus.
Sometimes I pray the Rosary while I walk.
Other days I am sitting.
There are many nights when I fall asleep while Rosarying. It’s much better than counting sheep.
Often when people ask for my prayer I offer a decade for them.
I never used to like praying the Rosary in groups – but now I enjoy the company – and then when I am praying alone I remember that good Christ-centred company.
I invite you to join me for this month of October, traditionally the month of the Holy Rosary.
Find your beads or send me a note and I will post you some, as many as you need for your family, friends.
Click on the image below to sign up for daily Rosary reflections for this month of October, or to request Rosary Beads.
Tomorrow I will offer more of an introduction to the Rosary, then on Sunday we will begin a four-week journey through the mysteries, decade by decade.
I look forward to your company on this life-giving journey.
You might appreciate these quotations from a variety of sources including St. John Paul’s reflection on the Rosary (in which he introduced the new Luminous Mysteries), Note these quotes are from Catholic, Anglican and Muslim sources.
The Rosary is truly an Ecumenical Prayer.
“The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety…” Rosarium Virginis Mariae
“With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.” RVM
“Mary is twice chosen: as the pious girl dwelling in the Temple, and as the mother of Jesus. Islam – The Koran. (Mary is the only woman named in the Quran and is mentioned 70 times.)
“With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.”
“We agree that there can be but one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ, and reject any interpretation of the role of Mary which obscures this affirmation. We agree in recognising that Christian understanding of Mary is inseparably linked with the doctrines of Christ and the Church. We agree in recognising the grace and unique vocation of Mary, Mother of God Incarnate (Theotókos), in observing her festivals, and in according her honour in the communion of saints. We agree that she was prepared by divine grace to be the mother of our Redeemer, by whom she herself was redeemed and received into glory. We further agree in recognising in Mary a model of holiness, obedience and faith for all Christians. We accept that it is possible to regard her as a prophetic figure of the Church of God before as well as after the Incarnation. Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission.