In a world tormented by fear, disease, division, hatred and confusion, I can find no one who questions that we need reform. Yet the recipes for reform are diverse and often contradictory. Into that storm, I believe the holy Trinity through Our Lady gives an answer: we must use the weapon of the Rosary to reform the world. Even more, the Trinity wants to use the weapon of the Rosary to reform and revive our hearts.
This October, the month of the Rosary, my invitation and my challenge to you is simple: pray the Rosary every day. Rediscover its power and its wonder. Entrust yourself to Mary’s hands, that she might transform your own heart and the heart of the world through the power of this humble and timeless prayer.
Without denying the power or beauty of the Rosary, I must admit: there are many of us who struggle with this devotion. We find it difficult, tiresome, boring, tedious, distracting, uninspired, the list goes on. We consider it the thing we do at a funeral home or see the elderly recite after Mass, and we are disillusioned by the image of the Rosary as something far removed from our lives. In fact, the Rosary is an invitation to renewal of our minds, to peace in our souls and to change in our world. When that feels far from our lived experience of the Rosary, here are a few tips to help us reclaim the power and the joy of this incredible devotion.
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R-O-S-A-R-Y: Read, offer, see, ask, relate, yearn
Read: Each mystery of the Rosary has a Scriptural foundation. Pray a Scriptural Rosary by looking up the corresponding Scripture verse. To vary your prayer, focus on a different specific word from the Scriptural passage each time. On other days, imagine yourself as different people in the scene: Mary, Jesus, a disciple, etc. Engaging your imagination can help you encounter the mystery from a different angle and enter more deeply into God’s daily message for you.
Offer: One of my friends has a beautiful tradition of picturing each Hail Mary as a rose offered to Mary. I recently learned that this devotion stems from St. Louis de Montfort’s suggestion that each prayer be offered as a rose to weave a crown of flowers for our heavenly Queen. This simple practice reminds me that a good Rosary does not rely on perfect focus. Even on those days when my mind is exhausted and I can’t form a coherent meditation, it is enough to offer each prayer with love. Know that Mary receives and treasures it.
See: Use an image of the Blessed Mother to guide your prayer time. Find a quiet space or empty church with a statue of Our Lady. Or choose seven favorite Marian images, and use each one on a different day of the week to provide variety and inspiration. Try praying along with a recording of the Rosary or with instrumental music to calm your heart and focus your attention. Focus on different aspects of Mary’s image with each decade — her smile, her eyes, her hands, her garment — to enter more deeply into the mystery of who Mary is as our Mother and our Queen.
Ask: At the beginning of the Rosary or at the beginning of each decade, pause to name your intentions. It helps to remember that our prayers have miraculous effects. What you are doing is not mere routine; the Rosary is God’s chosen instrument for real change. Have faith and great expectations that God will work miracles through your prayer. My experience of the Rosary attests that he surely does.
Relate: Make the prayer relatable and real in your life. Try dividing the decades up over the course of the day: one in the morning, at lunch, on your drive home from work, after dinner, before bed, etc. Pray the Rosary while walking or running. Commit to the habit of a daily Rosary with a close friend. Share this post with others. Pray with friends or family when you can. Ultimately, don’t let distractions or a busy schedule deter you from making the Rosary an integral part of your day! For those of us with overwhelming schedules, weaving the Rosary into the day can be a great opportunity to choose small moments of silence in doable intervals and to remember that God is with us throughout each day.
Yearn: The Rosary is about connection — connection to God and his Mother. My all-time-favorite Rosary tip comes from a priest friend who taught me that when we hold a rosary, we are holding Mary’s hand. Fittingly, that priest’s name is Father John. After all, it was the disciple John who accompanied Mary at the foot of the cross and who first claimed her as his mother. When I need to be heard and loved, protected and sheltered, I reach for my rosary. I know that I am holding my mother’s hand. I know that Mary will bring me closer to God. I know that, through the grace of her son, she will provide all that I need. In the end, I don’t want to go a single day without holding her hand. Yearn for and believe in that connection.
R-O-S-A-R-Y: Be inspired to pray the Rosary with newfound attention and excitement. Yes, this is exciting! As we enter the month of the Rosary, motivate yourself to try a different tip each day and to find what inspires you. Some of these tips will speak to your heart more than others. That is perfect. My prayer is that you would find a way to reconnect with the Rosary or maybe even to discover its wonder for the first time. Reach for a deeper connection with Mary and Jesus. Reach for miracles. Reach for your rosary.