I’m not sure about you, but I’ve had a love-hate relationship with the rosary.
It stems from long road trips with my very Catholic family, where the CD I had been playing through the car speakers was suddenly turned off, my parents’ rosaries pulled out from the glove compartment and for the next 15-20 minutes I was forced to endure an incessant babble of words repeated over and over. I understood the importance of prayer, I just didn’t see why we had to make an already long and tedious drive all the more so by becoming quiet and serious, with the same two or three prayers recited in a nearly mindless chant. I was at a loss so I sat quietly while my parents prayed, waiting until I could turn the music back on.
Fast-forward about ten years and I’m on my own in the city. Taking the train to job interviews, I found myself too nervous to listen to music or pick up a book, so I sat staring out the window, wondering what would become of me if I didn’t soon find gainful employment. My mind jumped through a thousand different worst-case scenarios all which did very little to calm me down. Then, from out of the recesses of both heart and psyche, some familiar words came creeping to my lips. Before I knew what I was doing a hushed medley of Our Fathers and Hail Marys began pouring from me in my own nearly mindless chant. But it wasn’t mindless — amidst the repetition of both prayers was a larger overarching one — asking for help, guidance and most of all peace.
Just reciting the prayers offered a kind of peace and I soon added them to my daily routine: get dressed, jump on the train, say the prayers and head to the interview. I began adding what I could remember of the Apostles’ Creed to the beginning and a few Glory Be’s here and there. I had begun creating my own cobbled together version of the rosary my parents had inflicted on me long ago. However, saying it now in my own way and at these times that I needed it most had finally given me clarity on why people bother with the rosary at all. It gives one a sense of serenity to say the familiar words and, since my own parents weren’t nearby, it was quite nice to have another mother to speak to and ask for help. Before long I gave in and looked up the rest of the prayers so that I could get it right. I began rememorizing the Hail, Holy Queen and the Memorare, as well as the official version of the Creed, long neglected prayers from my past that now brought comfort and solace. I eventually got a job, but my practice of praying on the train seemed to have stuck. I continued praying the rosary during my morning commute, and subsequently a lot of other commutes, including to this day anytime I’m on a plane, waiting on the tarmac for takeoff. I don’t know what it is with the rosary and transportation for me, but the prayer practice my parents started with us long ago in the car is with me today on even the most mundane of journeys. And I no longer hate it. Doing it on my own, I rather like it.
October is the Month of the Rosary and October 7 is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. At Busted Halo we’ve published our share of articles about the rosary and Mary. Below are a few of these, presenting unique ways of looking at this very special prayer practice and its meaning to the authors. Read through these and use the comment sections to write down your own reflections about the rosary. For a little more info on how Catholics regard Mary, take a sneak peak at our new video, Mary in 2 Minutes, which we’ll be premiering soon. And most importantly, if you haven’t taken the fifteen minutes to say the rosary recently, go ahead and give it a try — you may just be surprised by what it can do for you, when you pray it in your own way and at your own pace.
Buoyed By the Rosary, by Ann Turner
Mary was very perplexing to me before I became a Catholic. She was like some unnamed bird that I could not see and did not know, perching in a tree nearby. I knew she was there — I also knew she was important to some people, but I had no idea why.Even after coming into the Church, I struggled with my beliefs about Mary…Was she some kind of holy gal I could never emulate or was she more powerful, more funky and more earthy than I could possibly imagine?
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Beads on Call, by Ginny Kubitz Moyer
Many people find comfort in praying a daily rosary…I am not one of those people. It’s not that I dislike the rosary. On the contrary, it’s been the catalyst for some of the most powerful spiritual experiences of my adult life…I think it’s more likely that the rosary is, at this point in my life, simply filling a different role. It’s not my daily prayer practice, but something equally essential to spiritual health: the ritual I turn to in times of crippling fear, anxiety or grief. In other words, it’s my twenty-four hour crisis helpline. (continue reading here)
Radical Rosary, by Caitlin Kennell Kim
We pray the Hail Mary to occupy our minds with the most beautiful words we know — words of love and trust for Our Mother — so that our hearts can be unfettered and open to meditating upon the mysteries of the life, love, suffering, and resurrection of Our Lord, the Prince of Peace. The rosary is a Gospel we can carry in our pockets. Meditating on the holy mysteries it contains gives us peace that passes all understanding. And here’s the thing about that peace: it will not let you be still. It will not let you be silent. It beckons you to go forth and do scandalous things in the name of Love. (continue reading here)
Some Rosary Questions, from the Busted Halo Question Box