Why Pray the Rosary?
The Rosary is one of the most beautiful and effective prayers in the Catholic arsenal. Literally, the name means "garland of roses", but behind the soft, gentle name lies a powerful weapon in our fight against sin and temptation in our lives, and in the world. Used properly, the Rosary is a powerful spiritual weapon used to bring forth many heavenly graces and draw us closer to Jesus and Mary.
On the 8th of March, 2003, Pope John Paul II said,
Today...I am handing you the Rosary beads. Through prayer and meditation on the mysteries, Mary leads you safely towards her Son! Do not be ashamed to recite the Rosary alone, while you walk along the streets to school, to the university or to work, or as you commute by public transport. Adopt the habit of reciting it among yourselves, in your groups, movements and associations. Do not hesitate to suggest that it be recited at hime ... because it rekindles and strengthens the bonds between family members. This prayer will help you to be strong in your faith, constant in charity, joyful and persevering in hope.Beyond the exortation of John Paul the Great, Mary herself appeared to two men at different times, St. Dominic and Bl. Alan de la Roche, and gave them a total of fifteen promises to those who would pray the Rosary every day. These promises should inspire us to greater devotion. I reproduce them here, but they can also be found at Our Lady's Warriors.org Click the link to read an explanation of each of these 15 promises.
1. Whosoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary shall receive signal graces.Our Lady's Warriors.org reminds us that "these promises mean that, by faithfully and devoutly praying the Rosary, Our Lady will obtain for us the necessary Graces to obtain said promises. It is still up to each individual soul to respond to those Graces in order to obtain salvation."
2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin and defeat heresies.
4. It will cause good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for Eternal Things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.
6. Whosoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its Sacred Mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of Eternal Life.
7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church.
8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the Light of God and the plenitude of His Graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the Merits of the Saints in Paradise.
9. I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of Glory in Heaven.
11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by recitation of the Rosary.
12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire Celestial Court during their life and at the hour of death.
14. All who recite the Rosary are my Sons, and brothers of my Only Son Jesus Christ.
15. Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.
The beauty of prayer, through the Rosary, was described beautifully by fellow Catholic convert, Owen Swain, in the archives of his spiritual odyssey. In a post titled Bead by Bead, he writes,
The fact of the rosary is this, it is not work but rather I rest in the rhythm of the Hail Marys, focusing on the meaning and prayer intention of the specific mystery from the life of Christ and his Mother, it is a realization that causes me to laugh that I ever thought that Catholics work for their salvation, in the sense that Protestants so often accuse Catholics of working for their salvation. In the rosary ours is to be obedient while God does the work of answering the prayer yes, but arguably more importantly as we rest in the rosary God does a work in us. I gave myself over early in faith to the idea that a central point of the rosary is seeing God’s Son through Mary’s eyes because she is our greatest example as devoted Christian. What I gave myself over to in faith, the substance of things I did not then see, I have now begun to see and understand and the speed at which this has happened I can only attribute to the grace of God. I could not have anticipated this and so I laugh a laugh of joy for God and not of derision for my Protestant brothers and sisters or Catholics for that matter who see no place for a holy devotion to the rosary. Yes, I have been taken by surprise in receiving what I asked for.I echo Owen's sentiments. Through the Rosary, I have grown closer to Jesus, through His Mother, than I ever had achieved at any time in my life before!
Now, no struggle in prayer, this is new for me. It is a kind of freedom in the spirit that I have not known before and I was a card carrying Pentecostal for over two decades. There is nothing vain in the repetitions of the rosary as the focus is Christ, which is more than one can say for endless list prayers that for all their spiritual sounding tone are at least as much self oriented as they are Christ centric. Instead when prayed with attention, intention and devotion there is an increase of hope, faith and love as well as practical reminders, promptings if you like, about specific intentions or prayer requests as I used to call them.
And by no struggle I mean not that we should not by times be hard at it, struggling in faith or doubt or hope or confession as we pray, nor do I mean that setting time aside and getting down to the business of meeting with God is not sometimes an effort of the will. What I mean is that, perhaps to my shame, for the first time in a long time I am drawn to prayer, I want to return to the beads and the meditations on my Lord. What I mean is that as I come to those times my mind does not wander, I am not adrift thinking of what to pray for next or reciting an endless list of items to God and detailing some of them in such a way as if you would think I thought God was unaware of the details. Do you see that?
Praying the rosary, even for a novice, is a bit like watching God thread the spirit of his blessed Son into my life, bead by bead. Nothing vain in that.
In conclusion, I'd like to leave some tips when praying the Rosary:
1. Set aside a specific time each day for reciting the Rosary, and stick to it. Whether it's in the morning when you get up, or before you go to bed. Maybe when you get home from school, or after you finish work. Or, possibly, even say a decade on the daily commute.
2. Pray with your heart, not just your lips, so that prayer becomes a joy to you rather than a burden.
3. Announce each Mystery, and name a prayer intention, whether for you or for another, that is specific to that Mystery.
4. Pause for a moment to meditate on and visually contemplate the Gospel Mystery being said.
5. Make the Rosary part of a greater spiritual program in your life, that includes Mass, receiving the Eucharist, Confession, reading the Bible, and other things.
And remember, God helps you pray, and He understands when we just can't seem to. To Him, even the very desire to pray is itself a prayer. So stick with it.
(Category: Catholic Distinctives: Mary, Mother of God.
Catholic Devotions: The Rosary.)