If I tell you I’m going to pray for you or your intention, you should know that more than likely, in my mind’s eye, I see myself praying the Rosary on your behalf, and ultimately, within a day or two, you will be in my intentions as I am praying a daily Rosary. Today – October 7 – is a special day in our Church calendar – the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (also known as Our Lady of Victory), marking the victory at Lepanto, securing Europe against Turkish invaders (read about it here.)
The Rosary is my personal weapon of choice
Many non-Catholics (and many Catholics) misunderstand it, unfortunately – they see the Rosary as a prayer to Mary and a stumbling block to prayer to Christ Himself and a relationship with Him. However, to me (and to Catholics everywhere), the Rosary is Jesus’s mother’s preferred prayer tool for us to use to recall the major events of Christ’s love and ministry, and pray through her, begging for her intercession before Christ her Son on our behalf.
In the Rosary, we’re taking our needs and in turn, asking Mary, at Christ’s side, to beg of Him for our own intentions.
in·ter·ces·sion (noun) \ˌin-tər-ˈse-shən\
1) the act of interceding
2) prayer, petition, or entreaty in favor of another
I have a few favorite Rosaries that I use in my own prayer… I still have the small, navy Rosary with tiny beads that I received for my First Communion. I also still have one with slightly larger black beads that our grade school principal Sister Mary Angelene ensured each of us had at our spot at the head table at our 8th grade graduation dinner from Holy Family School. The Rosary I keep in my pocket and use daily is one brought back from Rome by one of my grade school classmates and scouting friends, which he gave to each person in attendance at his Ordination to the Priesthood (it is the one pictured at the top of this blog post.)
Here is a bit of reflection on the Rosary from Pope Saint John Paul II, of whom it was widely known that the Rosary was one of his favorite prayers:
The rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christ-centered prayer. It has all the depth of the gospel message in its entirety. It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb… It can be said that the rosary is, in some sense, a prayer-commentary on the final chapter of the Vatican II Constitution Lumen Gentium, a chapter that discusses the wondrous presence of the Mother of God in the mystery of Christ and the Church” – Pope John Paul II, apostolic letter The Rosary of the Virgin Mary
Pope Benedict XVI, reflecting on today’s memorial, invited all people and families to pray the Rosary for the intentions of the Pope, for the mission of the Church, and for peace in the world, saying:
“It is as if every year Our Lady invited us to rediscover the beauty of this prayer, so simple and profound.” The Rosary, a “contemplative and Christocentric prayer, inseparable from the meditation of Sacred Scripture,” is “the prayer of the Christian who advances in the pilgrimage of faith, in the following of Jesus, preceded by Mary” – Pope Benedict XVI
Praying the Rosary in our home
In our own home, the ways and places we pray the Rosary are many – If you’re new to praying the Rosary, I would encourage you to find one or more that work for you, give it a try a few times, and work the best ones into your own personal schedule…
- I pray alone, early in the morning, when I’m awake and ready for the day, and before the family wakes up. Often I’ll sit comfortably on a couch or sofa chair, sometimes I’ll kneel.
- I pray alone while taking a walk during a break during the day.
- We pray as a family in our living room; sometimes with a video program with reflections on the Rosary playing (the boys particularly like Father Mitch Pacwa’s Holy Land Rosary), or with one of the boys leading us in the mysteries and reflections on each.
- We pray one on one, or perhaps with two of the boys at a time, at bed time, while one of them is in their room ready for bed and their roommate brother is still in the bathroom or otherwise getting ready for bed.
- My wife and I pray together when the boys are gone or in bed – sometimes in the living room, sometimes in bed together.
- I pray alone when I’m driving somewhere in the car – it’s great for avoiding the stresses of driving and becoming more forgiving of other drivers!
- We pray as a family when we’re driving on long drives.
As we pray the Rosary, there are a few sets of reflections we can use – they are grouped into sets called the Mysteries of the Rosary. As we pray each decade (each fifth of the Rosary; each set of 10 Hail Mary prayers), we reflect on one of the Mysteries. Here are the Mysteries:
Joyful Mystery of the Rosary
Monday & Saturday
- The Annunciation of the Lord to Mary
- The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth
- The Nativity of our Lord Jesus Christ
- The Presentation of our Lord in the Temple
- Finding Jesus in the Temple (at age 12)
Sorrowful Mystery of the Rosary
Tuesday & Friday
- The Agony of Jesus in the Garden
- The Scourging at the Pillar
- Jesus is Crowned with Thorns
- Jesus Carried the Cross
- The Crucifixion of our Lord
Glorious Mystery of the Rosary
Wednesday & Sunday
- The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
- The Ascension of Jesus to Heaven
- The Descent of the Holy Ghost
- The Assumption of Mary into Heaven
- Mary is Crowned as Queen of Heaven and Earth
Luminous Mystery of the Rosary
- The Baptism in the Jordan
- The Wedding at Cana
- The Proclamation of the Kingdom
- The Transfiguration
- The Institution of the Eucharist
There you have it – if I’m praying for you, know that it’s likely while holding your intention in my mind while praying and reflecting on the Mysteries of the Rosary.
If the Rosary isn’t yet a part of your own prayer life, I would encourage you to try it once – perhaps even today on this Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary – and see where it takes your prayer life. I’d love to hear how it goes. If you DO already actively pray the Rosary, I’d love to hear more about your own places and ways of praying it, and the impact it’s had on your life.