Friar with Rosary in handWhat would a blog by a Dominican be without some writings about the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary?  I’m preparing a variety of Rosary posts.  But it’s funny–I thought that writing about the Rosary would be the easiest, most natural thing in the world for me.  It’s not really, though.  It’s actually pretty challenging.  The Rosary is so fundamental to my spiritual life, that writing about it is sort of like trying to write about  air or water in relation to my physical life!

But there was a time when the Rosary was not part of my life at all.  And just to perhaps get the ball rolling, I thought I’d ponder how that changed.

One of the first things I did when I joined my parish was stop at the parish gift shop and purchase a rosary.  It was nothing fancy, but it was very pretty.  Honestly, that’s one of the main reasons I bought it!  That, and because it just seemed like a Catholic thing to own.  My faith was not deep yet, it was shallow.  So was my attraction to the rosary.  It was a pretty object.  It lay untouched on my living room mantle for several weeks.

And then came the dark, painful, difficult days of grieving and struggling with conversion.  That’s when the rosary came down from the mantle and became a life-line.  I remember feverishly clutching it, staring at the little instructional leaflet that had come with it, reading and repeating the vocal prayers over and over.  I read the names of the Mysteries, but I was in no state of mind for actually meditating upon them.  I had some vague notion that Christ and Mary were present within them.  That was all I needed to know–that they were there.  I was not alone.  And they in Heaven were close, very close, and able to provide singular comfort and even peace to me, in some ineffable way.

As time went on, I became more and more deeply moved by those holy and loving persons.  I became moved to respond and reach for them.  The Mysteries became more than just vague remembrances of stories from the Bible.  Jesus and Mary became more than just nice, comforting presences.  The rosary (the object) became the Rosary (the prayer).  And I came to sense that the praying of it involved much more than just saying words.

I began to seek out how to properly pray the Rosary, how to delve into it and unlock its tremendous power.  I found the Rosary Center online and their “How to Pray the Rosary” page. For each Mystery of the Rosary, they provide 10 simple meditation points, one for each Hail Mary.  With daily practice, I began to understand and to explore each Mystery.  And I learned to do it while praying the vocal prayers.  It was difficult and felt strange at first, but before I knew it, it was completely natural.

I came to realize that the real meaning and the real glory of the Rosary is that meditation on the Mysteries, that forging of a connection and a personal relationship with Christ and Mary and with the wondrous ways in which God worked in their lives, and continues to work in ours too.  The Rosary is a true divine encounter.  In it, our mother whom Christ gave to us, reflects Him for us and guides us closer to Him.  She wants us to know and love Him as she does.  If she is in a position to “pray for us sinners, now and at the our of our death,” it is solely by His grace.  And so, the Rosary is not, as is often misunderstood, an act of worship toward Mary.  She is merely God’s instrument, and the greatest instrument of them all.  And the Rosary is her instrument, and ours.

Now, I cannot imagine life without it!  It is still a life-line, of course, more than ever before.  It is a direct and powerful line straight to Him who is Life Itself.

(photo by Flickr user Lawrence OP)