These reflections are offered to those who would like to pray the Rosary, but either find it boring because it is repetitive, or simply have difficulty with praying it.
We cannot expect to be at the same spiritual level as the numerous popes and saints who have so highly recommended it; and unlike the three little shepherds of Fatima, we are not going to be favoured with actually seeing and speaking with Our Lady of the Rosary, who asked them six times in succession for it to be recited every day. So if you are trying to be faithful to what the Church has so consistently urged us to do, and find that your Rosary brings little apparent joy or spiritual benefit, it is hoped that the following suggestions will help you to find your way into the wonderful spiritual treasures which it contains.
Let us imagine for a moment that we are waiting for a visit from two of our relatives whom we love and have not seen for some time. They have a special place in our hearts, so we think nothing of tidying up the sitting-room and preparing tea and some of the cakes we know they like. It will be lovely just to see them again, to hear how everything is going in their life, and we will enjoy telling them about our children’s progress, and the great holiday we had recently, and so on. We are thinking about them, and we know they will be pleased to see us for the same reason.
This simple family scene illustrates how we should compose ourselves in order to truly find the way to a relationship with Jesus through the Rosary prayer of his holy Mother — and let us realise from the outset that this should the primary object of our prayer. If we are not finding any fulfillment in praying the Rosary, the most likely reason is because we are not looking further than the words, or we are distracted by other thoughts or images. As a result, we are not fully aware of the Person in Whose divine presence we are praying.
We are praying in the presence of Jesus and Mary
When we come together to pray in the presence of Jesus and Mary, we are on the threshold of the divine mystery which is perceived not with the senses but with the eyes of faith. This is the point where, in order to proceed and enter into this mystery, we need to be sensitive to who we are, as His creatures, made in His image and likeness, and into Whose divine Presence we are entering. To do this we need to dispose ourselves in a way that corresponds to what we believe.
When you go to a concert that you know is going to be special, you want to enjoy it as fully as possible. Hence you take care that you sit in the best place in which to relax, so that you can forget about everything else and let yourself be absorbed into the uplifting music. The atmosphere of the concert hall and the people you are with, all help to heighten one’s enjoyment of the experience.
This is how it should be in our Rosary prayer. With a little effort, we can create an atmosphere which disposes us more readily to believe. Put up an image or a prayer card of Our Lady, with perhaps some flowers, light a candle in front it, and maybe dim the lights.
We know by faith that in our prayer, Jesus and Mary will come to us. “Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Mt 18: 20), and Mary herself likewise prays with us when we pray the Rosary, as Pope John Paul II said. They will come to us because we have chosen this precious moment in which we want to unite ourselves with them in prayer.
So let us prepare our hearts and minds for this important meeting with a moment of quiet, in which to lift up our thoughts to God. Try to imagine in your mind that your heavenly Mother is there in person—as indeed she is, albeit invisibly. This helps to lift one’s spirit to her, and also to remove distractions and the risk of saying the words of the prayer mechanically.
In the Rosary we go to Jesus through His Mother in a spirit of meditation
In the Rosary, we go to Jesus through His Mother who is also ours and who loves us perfectly in Him. She takes away any fear we may have of going to Him, because she knows each one of her children’s weaknesses, obtains the graces we need, and gives us her loving maternal aid and consolation.
In his Apostolic exhortation, Marialis Cultus, on Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, Pope Paul VI said that the Rosary without meditation is a body without a soul. Through the prayers of the Rosary you are entering into the divine mystery of the life of Christ. Accordingly, try to say the words of the prayers quite simply and naturally, at a moderate and steady pace, so that you can meditate or reflect upon the particular mystery as you repeat the familiar words. But at the same try to say them with love, reverence and the deepest faith you can find in your heart and express in your voice, as if you were speaking to the Lord and His Mother person to person.
If you are not used to saying the prayers in this direct, personal way, be humble and patient and accept that it will take time to develop the right style in which to pray. Meanwhile, every time you try to say the words with the dignity which the divine mystery deserves, the tone and value of your prayer will begin to be raised up. Our voice is itself a gift which we can and should use to the best of our ability for the praise of God and His Mother. If the Queen ofEngland or any other important personality was in the room, wouldn’t you take care to address them in your best manner ?
If for example you try to pray the Hail Mary this way, you will see that a slightly different meaning can be imparted, simply by making a slight variation to the tone and accentuation placed upon different words.
The overall intention is that by paying more attention to the way in which we dispose ourselves before beginning and then how we speak the words, hopefully we will become more aware of their profound meaning, and that will aid the process of meditation and help us to enter more deeply into the divine mystery.
Honouring Mary is pleasing to God
Making the effort to say it this way will please God who will see that we are seeking to honour His Mother not only with our lips, but more importantly with our hearts and minds. It will make us more aware of the extraordinary dignity God has given to every person, to “talk” to Him and to His Mother, person to person, heart to heart. This is actually what He wants from us, since He made us in His image and likeness. Parents want to hear their children talking joyfully, lovingly, respectfully to them ! Christ Himself has warned us not to “heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Mt. 6: 7).
We should also remember that in the Angelic Salutation, (the first part of the Hail Mary), for example, we are repeating the words of the Archangel Gabriel, who had come from God. So in saying those words, we put ourselves as it were in the place of the Archangel doing reverence to the Blessed Virgin with a greeting from the Most High. The paintings of some of the greatest artists across the centuries can help our meditation on the sublime mystery. Similarly, when the priest says the words of consecration at Mass, he puts himself in the place of Christ at the institution of the Holy Sacrifice.
In the Rosary we pray the divine mysteries of our salvation in Christ
The word Rosary means “Rose garden” or garland of roses. The Holy Rosary is considered a perfect prayer because within it lies the tremendous story of our salvation. With the Rosary in fact we meditate the mysteries of joy, of sorrow, of light and of the glory of Jesus and Mary. It’s a simple prayer, humble just as Our Lady is humble. It’s a prayer we can all say together with Her, the Mother of God. With the Hail Mary we invite Her to pray for us. Our Lady always grants our request. She joins Her prayer to ours.
Therefore it becomes ever more useful, because what Mary asks She always receives, Jesus can never say no to whatever His Mother asks for. In many of her apparitions, the heavenly Mother has invited us to say the Rosary as a powerful weapon against evil, to bring us to true peace. With your prayer made together with Your heavenly Mother, you can obtain the great gift of bringing about a change of hearts and conversion. Each day, through prayer, you can drive away from yourselves and from your homeland many dangers and many evils.
It can seem a repetitive prayer but instead it is like two sweethearts who never get tired of saying to each other: “I love you”…