Writing about the Rosary is still not coming as easily as I’d expected!  So again, I will start with the basics and share some simple things I’ve learned.  This time we’ll look at how to get into the habit of meditating on the Mysteries while praying the Rosary.

1.  Move your mouth. My first breakthrough, so simple it’s almost silly, was to move my mouth.  Part of the Rosary is verbal prayer (the cycle of Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, etc).  Let your mouth take charge of those.  Let your mind, your inner voice, your inner senses, be devoted to the Mysteries.  You might stumble over the words–or at least feel like you’re stumbling–but before long, it will be pretty automatic, just like moving the beads through your fingers.  That’s not to say that the verbal prayers are not important.  The verbal prayers provide a rhythm that helps bring your entire person into harmony and wholeness.  We are both body and soul.  The Rosary utilizes both.  Using your body fully helps you also use your mind fully at the same time.

Mary reading2.  Use a guide. At first, I couldn’t just “wing it.”  I couldn’t just dive into the Mysteries on my own.  Sometimes I still have trouble with it–sometimes I am easily distracted by other things.  So even now, I find it helpful to have a guide, something to focus on.  It could be a book or other written guide.  It could be images.  Usually, you can find both side by side.  I’ve already mentioned the Rosary Center’s how-to page.  Here are some other sources I’ve found helpful:

Father Peyton’s Rosary Prayer Book.  One of my very first Rosary books, and still a favorite.  Scores of meditations, each on a theme that can help you draw connections between the lives of Christ and Mary and your own.

The Rosary: a Journey to the Beloved by Gary Jensen.  This beautiful little book is an excellent introduction!  I really loved the artwork selections for each mystery.  They really spoke to me.  This book also seeks to make the Rosary accessible to non-Catholics, so if you are not Catholic, I recommend this one!

The Virtual Rosary.  This is a computer program you can download for free.  It provides meditations for each Hail Mary, along with illustrations.  You can choose from a few different sets of meditations and images.  It also provides the text for each verbal prayer, which is helpful if you’re just beginning.

3.  Don’t get discouraged by distractions. They’re going to pop up.  I don’t think anybody is immune to them.  Stay calm.  Don’t throw up your hands and give up.  If you find yourself thinking over your grocery list or what’s on TV tonight, then just take a few deep breaths and try to refocus on the divine Mysteries (this is where a guide can come in really handy).  But sometimes distractions can be a blessing in disguise.  Sometimes I find myself thinking about somebody or some situation that could actually use some prayers.  And so I lift them up and focus my prayers on them.  It is a great act of charity to pray for others… our Lord and Lady won’t mind!

4.  Simple is good. Meditating on the Mysteries of the Rosary could bring about earth-shattering insights that could change the world forever.  You could find yourself dazzled and knocked off your horse like Saul on the road to Damascus.  But… probably not.  And that’s OK!  Oh, you will be changed, and, through you, the world too.  But it will happen gently, gradually, and from the inside out.  Simplicity is at the heart of the Rosary, just as it is at the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.  Let your meditations be simple too.

One of my usual strategies is just to ask myself, “What is Jesus saying to me in this Mystery?”  Or, “What is Mary saying to me in this Mystery?”  Sometimes I even think about what some of the other people involved might say to me.  Such as Elizabeth in The Visitation, Simeon or Anna in The Presentation in the Temple, St. Mary Magdalene in The Resurrection, Veronica in the Carrying of the Cross, St. Joseph in The Nativity of the Lord.  I just put myself right there in the Mystery and listen.  And I’m usually amazed at what I hear!

I hope these few little points help!  I’m sure others will offer their own advice and ideas–please chime in!