Saying the Rosary and SAYING the Rosary

2015_Lenten blog 10 (image)The importance of efficiency was planted in my head at a young age. During family camping trips, my dad used to time my sisters and me to see how fast we could assemble a five-person tent. It took some practice, but we got it down to under a minute. While in AmeriCorps, I viewed heat in winter as a terrible waste of money and instead taped garbage bags over my windows and kept the house at the cool, cool temperature of 55 degrees so I could deposit more money into savings. If Laura Ingalls Wilder could do it, so could I. And I’ve already professed my love of checklists.

I like efficiency in my life. If something can be done in a faster, timelier, cost-saving way, it should probably be done in a faster, timelier, cost-saving way, Rosaries included. However, my efforts to say the Rosary more efficiently haven’t been going too well.

My Rosaries tend to get sloppy, especially around the start of the 3rd Mystery. Prayers get a little mumbled, the pace picks up, and thoughts drift. I’ve actually caught myself trying to time the decades while praying. For example, if I can say the mystery in 90 seconds, an Our Father in 15 seconds and 10 Hail Marys in a minute and 50 seconds, I should be through this Rosary thing in fewer than 20 minutes, especially if the mysteries are short. And if I can complete my Rosary in fewer than 20 minutes, I can finish my prayer journal more quickly and get to sleep sooner.

Efficiency at its finest.

Last night, as I HailMaryfullofgracetheLordiswiththee’d my way through yet another Rosary, I reflected that this might be an issue.

One of my goals this year is to say Rosaries three times a week during Lent, but I’ve started realizing that there’s a big difference between saying the Rosary and SAYING the Rosary. When it comes to praying the Rosary, efficiency isn’t about how fast I can pray, but rather how I pray and what I take away from praying. There’s no point in saying a fast Rosary if I walk away with nothing gained, other than perhaps some extra free time.

After this realization, I didn’t really know what to do, so I did what I do in a lot of tricky situations and turned to My Friend Google.

Dear Google, I typed. How can I say a Rosary without distractions? It turns out I’m not the only person with this issue, and so there are resources available. God bless the Google.

Sister Julie has a fabulous article where she reminds us that distractions are normal, and lists tips on how to concentrate more fully. Sister M. Emmanuel offers a good piece that provides some suggestions on what to meditate on. And to top it all off, I reread an email from my grandpa, who assures me that it’s easy for the mind to wander and he often finds it necessary to repeat prayers. He ended the email by writing that despite its difficulty, a Rosary is always worth the effort.

Can I say a Rosary in under 20 minutes? Yes. Should I? Probably not. Efficiency isn’t just about speed, savings and checking something off a list; efficiency also means spending time wisely, which means putting in the effort and gaining something beneficial in return. Amen to that.