A Calling Card for Heaven
Does your family pray the rosary? Would you like to begin it as a family tradition but it’s just too hard to manage? By Marilyn Rodrigues
Toddlers with their short attention spans, older children and spouses all with their own schedules can certainly test a commitment to any kind of family prayer time apart from Mass on Sunday (and even that can be a stretch at times).
But you’ve thought about it a few times, and rejected the idea for some reason or another, might it be the Holy Spirit giving you a gentle nudge into giving it a try? October is traditionally the month of the Rosary. The Church celebrates the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7, inviting the faithful to rediscover the beauty of this ancient prayer.
The Rosary is a ‘one-size-fits-all’ Prayer
It’s hard to image a more versatile prayer than the Rosary, and maybe that is part of its enduring popularity over so many centuries. It is often the go-to prayer for groups and families, perhaps because it bypasses group dynamics and even young children can take turns at leading the Hail Mary and the Our Lord’s Prayer.The Rosary is useful for other reasons too:
It suits beginners as well as experienced rosary prayers, since you don’t need to know all the traditional prayers, which can be read out.
There is no creativity involved, no thought required except for a gentle calling to mind of the mystery being prayed.
It is a vocal as well as a mental and contemplative prayer. It can be spoken or sung, it suits people at any level of prayer and who are comfortable with very different ways of praying.
It engages the senses. It includes visual, auditory and tactile elements; the images you call to mind or look at in a booklet or on a screen, or statues, the sounds of the prayers, and the counting off of the beads.
“The rosary is a contemplative and Christ-centred prayer, inseparable from meditation of the Sacred Scripture. It is the prayer of the Christian who advances in the pilgrimage of faith, following Jesus, preceded by Mary,” Pope Benedict XVI.
Who you gonna call?
The rosary is like a telephone line (remember those?) to God our creator and Heavenly Father and Mary, the mother of Jesus and our mother. With every “Our Father” and each “Hail Mary” we invite both of these persons alongside us to reflect on the life of Jesus, make petitions, praise God and thank God for blessings.
We ask them to help us forgive our parents, or thank them for our parents, or both. We ask them to help us to be better parents, to equip us with the graces and material things we need to care for our families.
It can be a great relief for parents to realise that they don’t have to be perfect.
Only God is perfect, and Mary is the epitome of human perfection. We can do our best, and then teach the Rosary to our children so that they can call on heavenly parents, on God the Father and on Mary our spiritual mother, when they need to go to ‘higher ups’.
…I take up my beads. I have very pretty ones. A single decade one with sparkly violet beads like amethysts tends to sit in a pocket of my handbag, forgotten for ages. But come some sort of crisis or simply a feeling of being fatigued by and overwhelmed by daily life, I reach for them in those quiet moments of waiting in the doctor’s surgery, or poolside during the kids’ swimming lessons, or while I’m on a train.
Our Lady has asked us to Pray the Rosary
Many Catholics know that at Lourdes in France and Fatima in Portugal, places of approved apparitions of Mary, she specifically asked for the Rosary to be prayed. But there are many instances of Our Lady requesting that the Rosary be prayed – including to Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
This happened at the time of the ‘call within a call’ that the Albanian Loreto nun, Sr Teresa, received when God asked her to form a new order of nuns to serve the poorest of the poor on the streets of Calcutta.
Later Mother Teresa wrote to her archbishop that Mary had spoken to her in a vision as well:
“I did not see her face but I heard her say, ‘Take care of them, they are mine. Bring them to Jesus, carry Jesus to them. Fear not. Teach them to say the Rosary, the family Rosary, and all will be well. (Tell them) Fear not, Jesus and I will be with you and your children.’”
The Rosary Unites us….
… to God and with each other
I’m always intrigued when I see someone with the beads. A young guy checks my bag at the entrance to the store – he has a rosary ring on his finger. An elderly man walking down the street in the mid-afternoon sunshine, beads in hand, lips moving just perceptively. A family has a Rosary sticker and a silhouette of Mary on the back of its car.
I wonder what’s going on in their lives. I briefly mentally raise them to God; look after him, look after them. The rosary unites us, brothers and sisters together in Christ.
- Mother Teresa, Come be my Light, the Private Writings of the “Saint of Calcutta”. Edited by Brian Kolodiejchuk, MC. Doubleday Religion, New York, 2007.
As Featured in the October 2011 Edition of CathFamliy e-Magazine. For related activites, check out: