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Practical advice to overcome the difficulties of the rosary
Sr. Helena Burns, FSP
Do you have trouble with the rosary? Having trouble praying the Rosary? You’re not alone. Many Catholics feel extremely guilty for not praying the Rosary much or at all.
Some Catholics pray the Rosary, but find it a very tedious, almost unpleasant exercise. Why does this ancient prayer seem so problematic? As someone who has struggled with hitting the pearls before, allow me to attempt what might bother so many would-be Notre Dame wreath devotees.
First of all, some people just don’t like rote and repetitive prayers. They are bored or perhaps prefer spontaneous, creative, free from the heart prayer – a conversation, a dialogue, a colloquy with God. Indeed!
However, just like a balanced diet, we should also be a little diverse in our prayer. After all, Mass is as ritual as it gets! Rote prayers relieve pressure. They are a great gift to fall back on in times of drought.
The Holy Spirit and the Church have given us glorious “say it all” invocations. There’s also a lot of wiggle room for variety with the Rosary. There are countless books for reciting the Rosary. “Scriptural rosaries” often insert a line of Scripture with each Hail Mary relevant to the particular mystery. Audio rosaries will keep it fresh with all kinds of voices, accents, background music (or no music), rhythms, meditations (long or short). There’s endless of them on YouTube, which – for the visually inclined – also includes illustrations, photos and videos to keep you engaged. Praying the rosary with others (try a rosary walk!) ensures more focus and fewer distractions.
A second “rosary problem” could be general anxiety. These people find it difficult to remain still, to be silent, especially in the middle of a busy day. If so, I would have no doubt that this rat race or necessary commotion is afflicting their prayer life in general. If the rosary seems like an absolute inert chore, it is perfectly acceptable to move around, to multitask. Walk, jog, run, train while you pray. Pray to him while driving or doing housework/garden work/artwork/hobby/chores. Pray to him at the end of the day when the phones have stopped ringing and there are no more urgent tasks or errands. Did you fall asleep during the Discovery of the Child Jesus in the Temple? No problem! Before you begin each rosary, ask your guardian angel to finish it for you if you fall asleep (or are hopelessly interrupted).
Third: We might just have an unspeakable distaste for the rosary. “I can’t get into it.” “This is the last on my list of favorite prayers.” OK, but maybe we should pay attention to this. Vegetables may be our least favorite food, but they’re really, really good for us.
Ever since Our Lady herself gave the Rosary to Saint Dominic 1000 years ago, it has become a staple for devout Catholics. Begin by holding the rosary in your hand. It’s like holding the hand of the Blessed Mother. Keep a blessed rosary on you at all times. If a full rosary is too bulky, get a rosary ring, rosary bracelet or another 10 decade rosary (available in manly “military grade” paracord).
Find times and ways to say the Rosary that will motivate you to do so. And remember Satan hates, I mean hates, the Rosary, so maybe he’s the one trying to get you out of it. As our parents so often wisely advised us, “Sometimes we have to do things in life that we don’t like. If nothing else, say it as a penance!
The following powerful quotes should be enough to give us a firm resolve to engage in the daily Rosary (and what better month to start than October, the month of the Most Holy Rosary)?
“The ram has always been the rosary” (Our Lady to Saint Dominic).
“I don’t feel strong enough to give even an exhortation without the rosary” (Blessed Father James Alberione).
“The Rosary is the best therapy” (Fulton Sheen).
“There is no problem, I tell you, however difficult it may be, that cannot be solved by the Rosary” (Sr Lucie de Fatima).
“The rosary is the weapon of these times” (Padre Pio).
“Where the Rosary is recited, there will be…peace and tranquility” (Don Bosco).
Why am I no longer struggling (but absolutely enjoying) the Rosary now? Many years ago I asked Our Lady to give me love for her rosary…and she did. She might do the same for you!
(Sr. Helena, fsp, is a daughter of St. Paul. She has a master’s degree in media education and studied screenwriting at UCLA. www.HellBurns.com Twitter: @srhelenaburns)