How do I say it, do it, and am I doing it right?
A retreatant came up to me yesterday and thanked me for giving him a rosary last year, while on retreat. He still has it and showed it to me. He wanted to ask me if he was saying the rosary correctly. So I asked him how he said it, and he explained it to me. So after he explained how he said it, I said, yes, sounds like you got it. Then I added, there is no wrong way to say the rosary, each person will say it in their own unique way. For instance, I said, that he does not have to say the whole rosary, but try to say a decade slowly with intention. The rosary is learned by simply praying it. Like learning a new dance, it takes time and practice. Then when learned, it is simple, easy, and a great aid for concentration.
I have been saying the rosary since I was a child. It has always appealed to me and I have found it a great aid in prayer, for it keeps me focused. Not sure if I have ADD (yes another label), but I am not one who can sit for long periods of time without my mind starting to wander all over the planet, the universe, then back again, and worrying about this, or that, or fuming over some past event that happen a zillion years ago. Yes, my unconscious is very active and I can be swallowed up in it if not careful. So the holding onto a bead can do wonders for me. It grounds me, reminds me of this moment, and then the next moment, as I slowly say the prayers. It can become automatic, mindless, which is not good, so I try to keep it conscious of what I am doing, but in a gentle way.
The prayers of the rosary are for the universal salvation of all. We pray for that intention because each of us has the ability to choose to reject the Infinite Love that pursues us. So when praying the rosary, it is, in reality, a prayer for all. The Our Father, nor the Hail Mary, or the Glory Be, has a ‘me’, nor ‘I’, in it. It is for all, without distinction to race, gender, or religion. “Give us this day our daily bread”, means more than just food, but also the grace that brings the soul to life, feeds it, heals it, and brings it home.
There is also a small prayer that is said between decades. It is another prayer for the salvation of the world. Here is the prayer:
“Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, saves us from the fires of Hell, and lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of your mercy”.
I have noticed that people who pray from the heart, no matter their faith path, who ponder what the words actually mean, tend to end up understanding the unity that they have with all of humanity, as well as with all of creation. For in the ‘Beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. That Word is Jesus Christ…..the Infinite made flesh. Since Jesus has said that He is found in the least (which could change day by day, or hourly), brings out that underlying intimacy we have with all, as manifested in Jesus Christ. I am the ‘least’ for some, so they are called to discover Christ Jesus in me, and yes, to love me, even if they have to grit their teeth at times when praying for that grace. In prayer, when asking the Father to forgive us, we learn that we also have to learn to forgive, to be open even when it is a struggle.
The rosary for many, and not just Catholics (For I have met many non-Catholic’s who say the rosary, often not telling anyone about it from their own church), Is a powerful way to center, to focus, and to pray in a way that keeps one grounded in this world, while at the same time, learning to pray for all.
When we love another, we love ourselves, and in that, we love Christ Jesus. When we hurt another, in any way, the converse is true, and we also, without knowing it, carry the pain that we cause another. That is why hatred, and revenge, while understandable, only lead to deeper pain for the one who rains down human justice on another…..which is revenge. Man’s justice is not God’s justice.
It is only in opening up our hearts to grace, that we learn this lesson of our unity with all, and that healing can only come from each of us, shared with all those around us. If we keep our hearts closed, then we increase our pain, and the pain of others, for we are made in the image and likeness of God, to deny that, or to bury that truth, is a hell of our own making.
Prayer is a joy, but itis also work, struggle, and a seeking to bring to the center of our lives something other than our own narrow, often wounded perceptions of God, and others. This can only be understood by those who pray, or if not, who on some level respond to God’s grace, which works in secret. We are made for love, we are love. It is fear, and sin, that keeps it locked away screaming to be let out.
The rosary is just one form of prayer, it is not for everyone. However, I believe that for most people, there is a way to pray that suits them, and it will lead them deeper into the mystery of God, who loves all, in spite of what others will tell me. My, how we love to damn others to eternal pain!
If your mind is like a hyper, drunken, monkey, going crazy in a banana tree…..then the use of beads may be helpful. –Br.MD