I've Got a (Rosary) Secret!
And I bet you have, too! So, what's my Rosary secret?
I often struggle with praying the Rosary! You do, too, I'm sure of it...or at least sometimes!
Now there seems to be some people who never struggle with the Rosary. It's not only their favorite prayer, they can't imagine anyone having difficulty. They have no problem praying the Hail Mary's (and remembering to pray TEN, not NINE or ELEVEN) and meditating on the mysteries. They have no problem imagining the different scenes of the life of Jesus or Mary. Cecil B. Demille, move over!
And then there is you and I. We're in good company, however! St. Therese really struggled with praying the Rosary! Maybe other saints did, too, but she is the only one I know of who actually admitted it! Toward the end of her life she said, "When I think of how much trouble I've had all my life trying to recite the Rosary!"
So, what are we going to do about it?
We could give up and just not pray the Rosary. Now wouldn't the devil love that! The Rosary is a very ancient and powerful prayer, recommended to us over and over again by our Lady at places like Lourdes and Fatima. We know that the great battle of Lepanto was won through the intercession of the Rosary which is how the feast and month of the Rosary came about. It is said that it was the prayer of the Rosary that drove out the Russians from Austria in 1948.
Here are a few suggestions to help in your struggle with praying the Rosary:
1. It helps to admit that praying the rosary is difficult at times or even maybe most of the time. You don't have to post this information on Facebook but you should start by bringing this difficulty to Our Lady and to Jesus. Prayer is an intimate conversation with the one we love. Love is what makes it possible to bring to another our difficulties and troubles. Then ask her to teach you how to pray the Rosary. She'll teach you in the way that is right for you personally if you let her. Maybe you won't notice overnight. That's OK!
2. Remember that the Rosary isn't a goal-oriented task to be accomplished but a murmur of love from the heart! In our culture we are so task oriented. We like to have goals and we like to accomplish things. Without realizing it we can approach the Rosary in the same way. Five decades, 10 Hail Mary's, 5 Our Father's and Glory Be's. DONE!
Prayer is communion. Prayer is first of all the Holy Spirit praying in us and then our response. It's a relationship of love. The love of the Triune God and our being drawn into this communion because God wants to invite us into this realationship of love. The Rosary is first of all prayer and like any relationship it's not going to be the same everyday. In a way the rosary of each day is unique.
3. Think of the Rosary in different ways. In the Middle Ages it was called Our Lady's Psalter. Just as there are 150 psalms in the Book of Psalms in the bible so there are 150 Hail Mary's in the Rosary. This is why we Dominicans start the Rosary the same way we start the Divine Office with "O God, come to my assistance, etc." and not in the way most people start the Rosary with the Creed, etc.
The Rosary as Our Lady's Psalter points to an inherent truth about the Rosary: it a prayer that contemplates the mysteries of Christ through the eyes of Mary. In the first part of the Haily Mary we greet our Lady with the greeting of the Angel: Hail Mary, full of grace! And it is because she is Full of Grace and the Mother of our Redeemer that we ask her, "Pray for us sinners!" Pray for us that like you we may help our neighbor in need and see Jesus in all we meet as you did with Elizabeth. Pray for us, that like Jesus we will surrender to the will of the Father. Pray for us that we will always receive the Eucharist worthily. Pray for us, that one day we will be with you adoring the Triune God for all eternity!
4. Distractions. That's what gets us. We don't want them. We wish they would go away. But they are there in our prayer like gnats! Or like horseflies! Buzz, buzz, buzzzzz. Sometimes we just need a little time to quiet down, to BE SILENT, before we begin to pray and sometimes it's those very distractions we need to bring to our prayer. Maybe that horsefly is really our angel prodding us to be more real in our prayer!
5. All those mysteries! I don't know about you but even just 5 mysteries in a 20 minute prayer is too much. Now that is sounds a bit of a contradiction when I seem to have enough problems mediating on ANY mystery of the Rosary. Perhaps that is because our understanding of the word "mediation" is too narrow. Most think of it meaning "to think" but it means more than that. The word actually means to ruminate, to chew, to savor the word. "Blessed are those who hear the word of God and keeps it." Meditating as a work of the imagination is rather a modern concept coming from Ignatian Spirituality. It doesn't fit everyone's personality. With Mary we are invited to ponder the Word of God in our hearts.
6. Sleeping. I bet sometimes that in praying the Rosary you fall asleep! How discouraging! And some people USE the Rosary to fall asleep at night! What gives? Maybe we're bored. It's a possibility but maybe, just maybe, the Rosary is our Lady's way of letting you and letting me rest on her heart as a child on her mother's lap."I sleep but my heart is awake," says the Song of Songs. St. Therese wrote, " I think that the Queen of heaven, since she is my MOTHER, must see my good will and she is satisfied with it."