The month of October is a good time to re-evaluate the place the Rosary has in our lives. Many great popes, saints, and Christian leaders have exhorted us to pray the rosary. It is a powerful prayer, they say, one that can change your life, strengthen the family, bring peace to the world, convert entire nations, and win the salvation of souls.
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 are 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 is tempting to feel dejected and as though we have been through some pointless mechanical exercise. We might tell ourselves it is better not to pray the Rosary at all rather than to pray it badly.
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.
The Rosary is not an optional extra. It has the potential to transform our lives if we are willing. Despite feeling you do not pray the Rosary particularly well, please pray it on a daily basis, and try to realize and remember several things. 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.
If we pray the Rosary regularly our attitude to Our Lady will change. You might think you don’t feel you have any strong Marian devotion, you might feel you hardly know Our Lady. It is only through praying the Rosary that you can really start 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!’”
Saint John Paul II said that as a young man, praying the 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.