The Rosary, Incorporated – a crazy new business venture? Nope! I’m talking about the Rosary, incorporated in to our LIFE! During this time of Lent, as we revamp our prayer lives, let us give some attention to the rosary! How we can incorporate the rosary into our lives so that praying it is more practical, constant, organic and effective?
First off, the Rosary is not only for elderly women, such the ones I see praying the rosary before the 7:30am daily mass at St Ignatius even starts. These women are true saints, I can barely get to the mass on time, let alone come 30 minutes early! Getting up super early and praying a whole rosary before daily mass will not be practical for most of us.
How could praying the rosary be more practical? Start slow, and start easy. We can start by offering a decade of the rosary a day – just ten Hail Marys a day – and slowly build our way up. Or we can start with just one rosary a week, prayed on a day when we have more time. Don’t try to jump from nothing to a 5am rosary every single day, I promise you’ll be worn out and discouraged after a week. We have to learn to pray by praying, through taking small practical steps! Where can we practically incorporate a decade a day?
Starting slowly and building up slowly makes the Rosary a constant prayer experience. It creates a rhythm of prayer that is steady – as opposed to trying to add too much to our prayer life too fast, so that the fire burns out too soon. Constancy in prayer is essential. Pray without ceasing! (1 Thessalonians 5:17). We need to drink daily and deeply from that spring of life-giving water — not wait until we are entirely dehydrated to quench our thirst. To determine how constant we actually are, we must examine our consciences at the end of each night and honestly admit whether or not we held to our commitment, and then ask for the grace to do better tomorrow.
What does organic prayer mean? A useful definition of organic is “characteristic of, pertaining to… living organisms.” We can rephrase that for our as “characteristic of living human beings (we are organisms), pertaining to life.” Organic prayer means prayer that fosters life, is in harmony with life, corresponds to our way of being, and does not work against life. Some people (especially those looking in from the outside, so to speak) can tend to see the rosary as formulaic, constricting, monotonous and stagnant. And we certainly could treat it that way and thus gain no spiritual fruits from praying it. We must pray the rosary in an organic way that incorporates our life into our praying, in a way that opens the prayer to the Holy Spirit and the inner workings of our souls.
One way to pray the Rosary organically is to offer each decade for the different concerns in our hearts. For example offer a decade for our loved ones, one for what stresses us out, one for the decisions we have to make, one for the causes we care about. The Rosary is so powerful, and the Blessed Mother so magnanimous, that we don’t have to worry about putting too many intentions into one rosary or one decade!
We must also open our eyes to see how each different mystery has a unique message for us. The mysteries are about Christ’s life, yes, but through Him they are intimately and organically connected to our lives! What is Mary saying to us at the Wedding at Cana when she says, “Do whatever he tells you”? (The Second Luminous Mystery) Where do we need the Holy Spirit to descend into our life? (The Third Glorious Mystery). What cross is burdening us at the moment? (The Fourth Sorowful Mystery). In this way, we live the Mysteries with Christ and his Mother.
Furthermore, we can be open to when and where we pray! We do not have to be kneeling in the pew before an image of Our Lady or before the Eucharist (though those are perfect places to pray!). We can say a decade on the way to work, instead of fuming about the traffic (I keep a small decade rosary in my car within easy reach). We can say a few Hail Marys walking to check the mail, or while we sweep the kitchen, or kneeling by the bed at night. I can’t tell you how many days I’ve prayed consecutive Hail Marys from my car door to the door of my job before walking in! That’s organic, connected to life, not restricted or arbitrary.
This organic incorporation makes our praying the rosary more effective — meaning that we really start to feel the graces from the prayer, and see the change it makes in our daily living. Not that we’ll see our prayers fulfilled immediately (I hope we all know it doesn’t work like that), but we will be different, we will feel different, and we will live different.
I reached a point, after months of praying the rosary like this, when I realized I thirsted to pray it. Instead of having to put forth tons of effort to pray or feeling like I would rather be doing something else, I reached a point where if I hadn’t prayed my daily rosary yet, I felt an odd sensation of expectation and necessity not unlike what you feel when need to eat or sleep, or haven’t been physically active in a while – like you depend on what’s coming and it’s a part of your routine and you know you need it to have a full, complete day. I felt I needed to pray the rosary, and truly wanted to. And after praying it, my heart, mind, body and soul were satisfied.
To return to my tongue-in-cheek title, the rosary is a bit like a business venture in that unless you INVEST in the Rosary, Inc, you won’t get anything in return! And the MORE you invest, the MORE you’ll receive in return – and with this venture there is absolutely no risk. The Blessed Mother is always infinitely more generous than we are, meaning that however small our efforts are or however tiny the offering we give her, she always faithfully gives back in abundance, and always beyond what we would ever hope to ask!