…But I pray it anyway
A priest recently said to me, “I don’t like the Rosary.”
Boy, can I relate.
The priest wasn’t saying that he disliked prayer or that his faith was lacking. Rather, he was articulating some of the challenges I had faced: it was difficult to get motivated to pray the Rosary, the Rosary can be confusing for beginners, making it hard to get them excited about it, and the monotonous repetition of prayers can seem pointless.
These challenges, which now seem more like excuses, kept me from praying the Rosary for a long time. That’s where this priest was coming from. He recognized that a lot of people, like me, didn’t particularly enjoy praying the Rosary. He shared that lack of enjoyment but quickly followed up by acknowledging the importance of the Rosary in his prayer life.
I can’t remember the day I started praying the Rosary regularly, or even why I started praying it at that particular time. But now, I pray at least a decade of the Rosary every day.
Do I enjoy it? Not necessarily. Do I find it indispensable to my spiritual life? Absolutely.
I recognize that the Rosary has power. I don’t know the exact mechanics of that power, but here’s what I do know: the Rosary has enriched my spiritual life and shielded me from sin and temptation in ways I’m not even consciously aware. I’m confident I have received many blessings as a result. I shudder to think how much poorer my life would be without this element of my prayer.
Here are some thoughts on why the Rosary is so powerful:
Giving honor to our Blessed Mother. Many of the mysteries of the Rosary revolve around key points in Mary’s life or events in Jesus’ life where Mary was present. Mary is not God, and all of our prayers with her should lead us closer to God. As the Mother of Jesus, though, she holds a special place, so it’s appropriate to give her honor. We do that when we pray the Rosary.
Tracing the steps of Jesus at important points in his earthly existence. By pondering the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, we can seek to imitate him more. In particular, the Sorrowful Mysteries allow us to reflect on his passion and death, in which he made the ultimate sacrifice out of love for us.
Contemplating through repetition. Repeating the prayers allows us to contemplate each mystery more deeply. I’ll be honest, there are times I get distracted, especially if I’m praying while driving. However, I believe that God honors our attempts. Even the recitation of the prayers in and of itself has some value, although immersing ourselves in the mysteries can yield greater spiritual insights and bring us closer to God.
Making us a more integral part of a community. Praying the Rosary with others can increase its power. At many parishes, the Rosary is prayed in a group before or after Mass. Consider joining one of these groups.
Focusing our minds on the sacred. My time spent praying the Rosary would otherwise be spent in idle, non-productive pursuits that don’t bring me closer to God. Praying the Rosary keeps me connected spiritually.
In short, we don’t need to know exactly how the Rosary works in order to benefit from praying it. The key is to get started.
How to do that? There are literally thousands of good resources about the Rosary. Here are a few that I’ve found helpful:
- The U.S. bishops have an easy, step-by-step guide to praying the Rosary on their website, with links to each of the prayers.
- On the go? You can recite the Rosary with any of several podcasts, such as A Rosary Companion or Pray the Rosary with Bishop John Barres. Just search “Rosary” on your podcast app.
- Finally, if you’re looking for calming and peaceful, check out the Rosary prayed in Gregorian Chant on YouTube. I usually play it in the background as I’m working.
Choose whichever you’re most comfortable with and begin.
“That while meditating on these mysteries
of the most holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary,
we may imitate what they contain
and obtain what they promise, through Christ our Lord, Amen.”