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Godzdogz

The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

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A reflection for October, Month of the Rosary

Sunday, October 10, 2010
Recently I was having a conversation with someone about prayer and she mentioned that she rarely prayed the Rosary because she found it so hard to concentrate whenever she did. The Rosary is a beautiful prayer, but due to one reason or another many people never get to discover this beauty. It can feel like we're supposed to be doing so many things simultaneously – saying each Our Father and Hail Mary with due reverence, praying for our particular intentions, all the while trying to create vivid mental images of Christ and Our Lady in our mind's eye. If we fail in this endeavour, it's tempting to feel dejected and as though we've been through some pointless mechanical exercise. We might tell ourselves it's better not to pray the Rosary at all rather than to pray it badly.

Well the month of October is a good time to re-evaluate the place the Rosary has in our lives. Going back to the conversation I had with this person on prayer, I mentioned that I also found it hard to concentrate during the Rosary, but that it didn't really matter. As soon as I'd said this, I realized it could be taken the wrong way. Contemplation is a fundamental part of the Rosary. The French priest and Dominican tertiary St Louis De Montfort said:

The Rosary without meditation on the sacred mysteries of our salvation would almost be like a body without a soul; excellent matter, but without form which sets it apart from other devotions.


It is because of its meditative nature that many popes and saints have been so keen to promote the Rosary. In 1982, when John Paul II visited Fatima he told the people:

Do you want me to teach you a 'secret'? It is simple, and it is no longer a secret; pray, pray very much; recite the Rosary every day.

The Rosary is not an optional extra. It has the potential to transform our lives if we are willing. So where does that leave those of us who genuinely find it difficult to concentrate whilst praying the Rosary? Despite feeling I don't pray the Rosary particularly well, over the last few years in which I've been praying it on a daily basis, there are several things I've come to realize. Whilst we can pray the Rosary to varying degrees of perfection, it is not really possible to pray the Rosary badly. Although we should always hope that we might learn to pray the Rosary better, we are never worse off for praying it. We might have various bad attitudes that we become aware of when we pray the Rosary, but this is surely a good thing. It makes us realize how much we need God's mercy.

Another thing that I've noticed is how my attitude to Our Lady has changed over the last few years. Before I started praying the Rosary on a regular basis, I didn't feel I had any strong Marian devotion – I felt I hardly knew Our Lady. It is only through praying the Rosary that I've really started to appreciate who Mary is. She is our Mother, she loves us, she constantly prays for us, gently guiding us towards her Son. So we should feel entirely comfortable and at ease in her company. As a nun, St Bernadette used to encourage the sisters to pray the Rosary whilst going to sleep and would say “you will be like a little child who falls asleep saying 'Mama, Mama!'”


John Paul II said that as a young man, praying the Living Rosary helped him realize that not only does Our Mother Mary direct us towards Christ, but Christ also directs us towards His mother. Christ is saying 'look what marvels I have worked for my mother.' Devotion to the saints and especially to Our Lady, is so important because it marks out why our faith is so special. God's grace is not something superficial, but penetrates the core of our being. God has promised to make us like Himself. Our Lady is the first in whom this promise has been fulfilled, and so she is worthy of the highest of praise.

Robert Verrill OP

Comments

Sarah commented on 09-Oct-2016 08:55 PM
Amazing blog. Thank you!

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