Pope Francis has invited all Catholics to pray the rosary during the month of October. This is an invitation to pray for the Church to be defended from evil as it is in another state of crisis. One church leader after another has faced scandal for actions related to sexual abuse. Now is a good time to pray for those who have been abused and those who have been lousy leaders.
If you’re not Catholic and are unfamiliar with the rosary, think beads. You’ve seen people hang beads from their rear-view mirror in the car, right? Those are likely to be a set of rosary beads.
The rosary is an ancient form of prayer, most often associated with Catholics but not limited to them. Martin Luther was known to have a strong devotion to Mary, even after he left the Catholic Church. The rosary is prayed in five groups of Hail Mary’s, with each group themed according to a moment in the life of Christ. Each group is called a “decade”. You can pray the rosary in 10-15 minutes.
Many Christians know about the rosary but don’t actually pray it. This isn’t surprising. When we don’t know something or lack the confidence related to it, we don’t practice it. I run into people all of the time who admit that their prayer life is tepid. It bothers them but they’re not sure what to do about it.
Let’s consider the rosary as one part of your set of prayer-related tools.
The rosary is a powerful form of prayer. Every holy person I know prays the rosary. Saints have sworn by it and martyrs have attested to its efficacy. St. Francis de Sales said this about the rosary, “The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” Pretty strong words from an all-star saint.
I’d like to suggest five creative ways to “get into” a regular practice of praying the rosary:
Purchase a rosary ring. You can find these on Amazon or at your local Catholic gift shop for under a few dollars. Keep it in your pocket and thumb it occasionally to get used to it. This will also remind you to pray.
Start with one decade a day. Whether using a rosary ring or a full rosary, begin with just one decade a day. Don’t worry about “doing it right”. If you’re not sure which decades to pray, Google it.
Walk and pray. Pick a time of the day- early morning, after lunch or at night and thumb the rosary. Gradually pray the prayers associated with each bead. The walking will make it easier. Plus, you’re getting some exercise.
Pray in the car. There is no time more convenient than when you are driving to pray the rosary. Keep a set of rosary beads (or the ring) in your car and when you think of it, pray the rosary. If you don’t have a drive long enough for the entire rosary, pray what you can.
Incorporate the rosary into your daily quiet time. My father does this and finds it to be a wonderful “primer” for deeper, more contemplative prayer. If you’re able to carve out a solid half hour, you’ll need 10-15 minutes of it for the rosary.
Include the rosary in a once-a-week holy hour. To make your weekly prayer routine special, visit your local Catholic Church when they have adoration of the blessed Sacrament. After some time in adoration, pull out your rosary beads and pray.
I’m not an expert in the rosary. What I do know is that it’s an important Christian devotion and one that can be a powerful asset in your prayer toolbox. With some creativity, you can include it in your prayer life as wel