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My Non-Relationship With The Rosary | Catholic Life

My Non-Relationship With The Rosary

My Twitter friend Annaclimacus ordered me to post about the rosary. I told her that I had naught to say since, despite my great reverence of the rosary, I am not a prayerful person. And then we made a secret pact to each post about our individual non-relationships with the rosary. According to the terms of our pact, once she posted on Friday I was bound to post by midnight tonight or else forfeit my entire collection of Edith Stein books. If you don’t believe me, don’t ask Anna Lindsey, for I’m sure she will have an even more sinister story for you!

I invite you, dear young people, to make of the Rosary your daily prayer. I encourage you, dear sick, to grow, thanks to the recitation of the Rosary, in the trusting abandonment to the hands of God. I exhort you, dear newlyweds, to make of the Rosary a constant contemplation of the mysteries of Christ. -Benedict XVI

Close your eyes and imagine your mother’s face. Now imagine your best friend holding a small child and laughing. Now imagine a man whom you have never met walking dejectedly through a dark forest.

Did you see them?

I did not. If I close my eyes and try to bring a face to mind… I cannot. It does not matter how hard I try, or how little I think about it. I do not visualize. The great beauty of the rosary is in its powerful mental participation in the mysteries of redemption, and I just cannot do it.

And so the rosary is for me all of the things it should not be: rote repetition, dreary penance, and an uninspiring duty.

The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God…and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary. -Pius X

It is not that I do not appreciate the rosary. I firmly believe that it is non-optional for any Catholic who accepts the testimony of the Saints and guidance of the popes. I have had a few (two?) astounding moments of understanding while praying the rosary. I have experienced the power of others praying the rosary for me.

When reciting the Rosary, the important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived. The various steps of Christ’s mission are traced. With Mary the heart is oriented toward the mystery of Jesus. Christ is put at the centre of our life, of our time, of our city, through the contemplation and meditation of his holy mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory. –Benedict XVI

And I have also experienced weeks of praying the rosary daily with absolutely nothing other than the fact that that I had indeed prayed the rosary.

When you say your Rosary, the angels rejoice, the Blessed Trinity delights in it, my Son finds joy in it too, and I myself am happier than you can possibly guess. After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is nothing in the Church that I love as much as the Rosary. -Mary to Alan de la Roche

Yet the rosary is the rosary. And it is okay that this treasury of graces is not directly open to me.

But the more pressing need at present is to remind you in your piety what a good thing it will be for all of us to take up our rosaries once again and to recite the prayers with the simplicity and fervor of the humble, of the little ones, of the devout, of the afflicted and of the trustful – and to do so for peace in the Church and peace in the world. -Paul VI

Honestly, I probably would not give the proper devotion to the rosary even if I could pray it well. If experiencing its grace one time out of a hundred is not enough, would 100 out of 100 times really make a difference?  There is a time to experience beauty, and there is a time to do what is right because it is right.

If only I would.

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38 Responses to “My Non-Relationship With The Rosary”

  1. Christine 18. Oct, 2010 at 7:57 pm #

    This is an interesting post. There was much said by the saints and Our Lady about the importance of the Rosary. But on the other hand, sometimes I feel like the Rosary doesn’t speak to me personally very strongly, that it’s not a devotion I’m called to. This has been a quandary I’ve been thinking about for a while. Thanks for the interesting post.

    • Rae 18. Oct, 2010 at 8:09 pm #

      I tell myself that the rosary was designed as a substitute for the liturgy of the hours, so there is no problem if the liturgy of the hours works better for me than the rosary. But I think that there is still something to obedience, and a certain value to praying just because it is right, and not because it feels right for us personally. So for me at least, I need to pray the rosary more (and by “more” I mean more than just during Lent, perhaps once a week rather than once every few months). I’m interested to know how you settle your quandary!

      • Christine 19. Oct, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

        I pray it about once a week, on average. Sometimes 4 days a week if I drive a lot, or not at all if I get forgetful. Usually when I pray the Rosary, I feel like praying it despite my lack of excitement in prayer is a sacrifice I’m offering. Does that sound kosher?

        • Rae 19. Oct, 2010 at 7:12 pm #

          Sounds quite holy. :-) I wish that I were as faithful!

          • Christine 20. Oct, 2010 at 11:44 am #

            You’d be surprised how many “1 or fewer” Rosary weeks I have.

  2. practicinghuman 18. Oct, 2010 at 11:20 pm #

    Thanks much for your post :) I’m glad you decided to threaten your Edith Stein collection as a way to get this posted.

    I’m not really much of a visualizer myself, which I guess is why I like the traditions of Icons so much. I can bring to mind an image of an Icon I’ve prayed with even when it is not physically present with me but it is harder for me to do much better than that.

    For me, I find an issue of percussion in my prayers. After considering the Annunciation, for example, I hear the “Hail Mary! The Lord is with thee!” louder. After considering Pentecost, I hear “blessed is the FRUIT of your womb.” It’s in my own voice of prayer, but the emphasis has changed. All of a sudden both prayers become agents of Lectio Divina for me, and I am most grateful.

    But, as I indicated in my post, I think it is totally acceptable for other devotions to be used. The Prayer of the Hours is an outstanding devotion. My challenges with the Divine Office is that my schedule changes so often that it’s difficult for me to manage to pray the hours at consistent intervals.

    • Rae 19. Oct, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

      Percussion in prayers is a term I’d not encountered before, but I love the concept! And I agree that it is quite acceptable for other devotions to be used. I just don’t think that it is right for Western Christians to completely toss the rosary aside.

  3. Kathleen 19. Oct, 2010 at 5:04 am #

    First, I think there are many ways to pray the Rosary. It is very difficult to pray it; it tends to slide backward into rote, mind-numbing slurs of words. BUT. Sometimes when you occupy your forward mind that way, God speaks in the background. And this is OK.

    I also pray it at night to help quiet the chaos in my brain and allow me to go to sleep. I also think that’s OK.

    • Rae 19. Oct, 2010 at 7:14 pm #

      I agree. :-)

  4. catholicmutt 19. Oct, 2010 at 8:19 am #

    I’m with you. I find the rosary difficult to pray. Perhaps I don’t put enough effort in, but I certainly have prayed it daily, and still do not understand the great love for it that some people have. I’m glad they have it. I just don’t understand it. I try to keep praying it (usually if I’m going to be in my car long enough- I suppose the distraction of driving is not helping me get a better handle on this devotion…).

    • Rae 19. Oct, 2010 at 7:15 pm #

      It is really encouraging for me to read comments like yours and know that you share my lack of attachment but still manage to faithfully pray it!

      • Anthony 30. Jul, 2014 at 10:46 pm #

        Beautiful pictures of the Blessed Virgin; Danke Sehr! Beautiful wesbite; perhaps I will be able to get it in Dutch or German. To God the Father and Christ the Son be the glory and power forever and ever! Ave Maria! God Bless the USA!

    • Christine 19. Oct, 2010 at 7:16 pm #

      I can relate to what you said. I’ve prayed it daily in the past (for Lent some years), but I very rarely felt spiritually engaged. Once, a few months ago, I saw Father John Corapi (I love him!!) on TV speaking about the Rosary. For a few days after that, I prayed the Rosary more quickly and less purposefully, but I felt more present somehow. Sadly, that intensity (of praying the Rosary daily) faded, and now I hardly pray it.

      Oh praying in the car is another issue – right! I want to use that time in the car for God (I commute 2 times a week 40 minutes away), but I focus less on the mysteries and more on other cars. Sometimes it’s worse and sometimes it’s ok. I’m not sure…

    • Mars 31. Jul, 2014 at 8:11 am #

      Sarah and Erin, thank you both so much for the fantastic piuctres. I am so glad you caught so many moments as I feel like I missed a lot. You all are great! Hope you all can get together when the babies arrive.Mary (Haley’s mom)

  5. Owen 19. Oct, 2010 at 11:41 am #

    I’ll say a decade for you.

    • Rae 19. Oct, 2010 at 7:15 pm #

      Thank you. :-)

      • Owen 20. Oct, 2010 at 11:31 am #

        And I’ll make sure it’s one of the sorrowful ones 😉

  6. Salome Ellen 19. Oct, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    The rosary, despite its cultural prominence, is considered to be a “private devotion.” The “prayer of the church”, aside from mass, is the Liturgy of the Hours. Keep trying, if you want to, but don’t feel you must. Even the quotes from various popes are not “ex cathedra”, but only encouragement from someone who loves the rosary to “Try it, it’s good.” And they’re as binding on you as the pope saying “This beef is delicious; have some.” In both areas, you are free.

    • Rae 19. Oct, 2010 at 7:16 pm #

      Oh, I know it is not at all a legal obligation. But sometimes love binds us to more than the law.

    • Christine 19. Oct, 2010 at 7:18 pm #

      Salome,
      I like what you said; it seems just right. It’s great it you can pray the Rosary, but you’re not going to be sinning if you don’t.

      But…then I heard a retelling of what happened at Fatima, and it confused me. Mary told us to pray the Rosary.

      I’m torn.

  7. Trena 20. Oct, 2010 at 11:25 am #

    Great post and thanks for your honesty. I imagined you as a rosary prayer warrior! So I’m glad to see this side of you. I too have trouble with the Rosary. My mother-in-law prays it everyday and always tells me I should…but it doesn’t ‘do’ it for me. Maybe someday that will change but at this point in my life the Rosary doesn’t bring me closer to God.

    • Rae 24. Oct, 2010 at 11:47 am #

      I find it funny that you imagined me as a rosary prayer warrior! I think that they are great, but I am so very far from being one myself.

      I think that it is crucial to know when to follow God wherever we find God, and when to do things just because we personally need to do them. I am glad that you know what does and does not bring you closer to God at this point in your life!

  8. Rebecca 20. Oct, 2010 at 7:02 pm #

    I too struggle with the Rosary – I think it might be because I struggle with visualization as well.

    I like the idea the one commenter suggested of before bed to help quiet the mind – though I’m pretty sure I’d never make it through a whole rosary if I did it right before bed :(.

    • Rae 24. Oct, 2010 at 11:49 am #

      I think there is something to be said for praying part of the rosary! A little is still good, even if we fall asleep before we pray it all. :-)

  9. Christy S. 21. Oct, 2010 at 7:04 am #

    Our Lady of Fatima tells us to pray the rosary every day, not because we HAVE to, but because we are in a spiritual battle against satan and his legions. She very highly encourages us to pray it, because satan hates it so much, and among going to confession regularly, going to Mass as often as possible, fasting (on Fridays especially), and Eucharistic adoration, all these plus praying the rosary are the strongest known tactics of spiritual warfare, which will lead us to true holiness…and heaven one day. I learned that from Fr. Edgardo Arellano of the Alliance of the Two Hearts Intl. Look him up on You Tube, he is an AWESOME exorcist. :)

    • Rae 24. Oct, 2010 at 11:50 am #

      Great points!

  10. Christy S. 21. Oct, 2010 at 8:20 am #

    And I also want to say I truly understand, too about not being able to visualize…or understand much, or many many times feel I even get anything out of it. But it is a mystery, we cannot understand yet how it helps….I have come to believe it is a prayer that helps others all over the world….and what we get out of it is yet to come (in heaven), teaching us unselfishness on earth…

  11. Marc Cardaronella 21. Oct, 2010 at 11:37 am #

    I prayed the rosary every day for a year when I first came back to the Church. My wife and I did it together. We used many different rosary “helps” as well. Tapes, booklets, Scriptural rosaries, guided meditation rosaries, rosaries that have a sentence or two in between each Hail Mary. It was exactly what we needed at the time. We actually learned a lot about the faith while praying the rosary. The mysteries of the rosary are actually THE pivotal events in the life of Christ that relate to salvation.

    After that time, I felt drawn to other forms of prayer and I began to feel the weight of the rosary, so to speak. It became quite a burden to pray so I stopped. I don’t pray it very much any more. Certainly not regularly. I’ve tried but it’s just not there. I struggle with that as well because so many of the saints had strong devotions to the rosary.

    I think perhaps it’s just seasons and stages. I’ve always felt like Mother Mary rescued me from serious sin and damnation. It was the message of Fatima that brought about my conversion. I still have a strong devotion to Mary and a rich appreciation for Marian theology. But it seemed to me that, when my devotion to the rosary shifted, Mary was just introducing me more to her Son and to deeper forms of meditative prayer. The rosary was right for the time and now other forms of prayer serve me better.

    • Rae 24. Oct, 2010 at 11:53 am #

      What a great story!

      I quite agree that there are seasons and stages, and perhaps some day you will come full circle and be drawn back to the rosary again.

      One of the interesting things for me is that I feel quite close to the Blessed Mother. I “talk” with her much more frequently than I talk with my biological mother. But the rosary and I just don’t click.

      • practicinghuman 24. Oct, 2010 at 2:53 pm #

        I can appreciate feeling close to the Blessed Mother but not quite clicking with the Rosary. Right now it seems like I am in a place where this prayer is opening up for me. Even though I have had it in my prayer book for nearly a year, I didn’t even really see it before. It seems like an outstanding way to reflect on Christ’s life and ministry; I hope it continues to open to me.

  12. Claire 21. Oct, 2010 at 6:48 pm #

    I think that the link you make between visualization and praying the Rosary is really an interesting one. It is like you are saying that to be able to meditate on the Mysteries you need to have a visual image of the scene, right?
    I am among those who actually enjoy praying it, but I did not always. Now I do use a visualization technique, but at first I did not. I mention this in case it is helpful to you (assuming you actually WANT to pray it which by no means am I suggesting that you must). What I did at first, and still do now when I am really struggling to stay focused in prayer, is to just focus on one point of a particular Mystery. Yes, it seems ideal to have a sense of being “washed away” by the beauty of the Transfiguration and draw new insights from it every time, but my mind is a little too lazy for that sometimes and anyway I’m tired because it’s getting really late, right? So I give myself a break and start small.
    I think of a single “principle” to just zero in on (or, in other words, I lower my expectations for myself). So, for the Transfiguration it could be something like: “Jesus went up on a mountain and there He was transfigured.” Or, “Jesus’ face was Transfigured before His Passion.” Or, “Jesus chose only a select few to witness the Transfiguration.” And then I leave it at that. If my mind wants to wander around a little after that, I might end up at something like, “Jesus decided to reveal His glory to some and not others, but he did not love the ‘others’ any less; it just wasn’t time yet. The ‘others’ had to wait until the Ascension” and so on… The Institution of the Eucharist is still tricky for me; sometimes I just start with: “There was a time when there was no Eucharist, and then Jesus instituted it.” That’s a good enough thing to think about for a few minutes.
    For the Nativity, it could be something like, “Jesus was born poor.” And then maybe lead into a deeper meditation on spiritual poverty, or the unlikely choice of Mary as an “unwed mother”, or the political implications of inviting the Wise Men to be present instead of the sages already in Israel…
    You get the idea.

    I know you to be a person who really likes to think about this faith of ours and so I hope this little technique could be useful to you. It was a little surprising to read your post only because the Rosary has become, for me, an excuse to spend time just _thinking_ about stuff. Now the Liturgy of the Hours…_that’s_ tough stuff for me. :)

    • Christine 21. Oct, 2010 at 7:52 pm #

      I agree about meditating on the virtues related to each mystery. Like if it’s “The Visitation,” I’ll meditate on the mystery itself, along with the virtue of love for my neighbor/friends/family (my mind will wander amongst these and other ideas).

    • Rae 24. Oct, 2010 at 11:53 am #

      Thank you so much for your suggestions! I will try it. :-)

  13. JeanetteLee 22. Oct, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    I put together a Rosary Web site for those online who would like to pray along, or for those who would like to have the Rosary playing in the background while they search the Web. I think the Rosary is a natural prayer to a Catholic when they are in deep trouble. When things settle down, however, it becomes too easy to put aside. But Mary loves this prayer, and it’s important to say to fight the demons in the world today … Rosary for Peace

    • Rae 24. Oct, 2010 at 11:54 am #

      Thanks for sharing.

  14. Stephen Hand 21. Jun, 2011 at 7:59 am #

    Not alone. St. Therese of Lisieux:

    “It’s a terrible thing to admit, but saying the Rosary takes it out of me more than any hair shirt … Try as I will, I cannot meditate on the mysteries of the Rosary. I just cannot fix my mind on them” —St. Therese of Lisieux, Story of a Soul

    “Sometimes, when I read spiritual treatises, in which perfection is shown with a thousand obstacles in the way and a host of illusions round about it, my poor little mind soon grows weary, I close the learned book, which leaves my head splitting and my heart parched, and I take the Holy Scriptures. Then all seems luminous, a single word opens up infinite horizons to my soul, perfection seems easy.

    “I see that it is enough to realize one’s nothingness, and give oneself wholly, like a child, into the arms of the good God. Leaving to great souls, great minds, the fine books I cannot understand, I rejoice to be little because ‘only children, and those who are like them, will be admitted to the heavenly banquet’.”

    “Love proves itself by deeds, so how am I to show my love? Great deeds are forbidden me. The only way I can prove my love is by scattering flowers and these flowers are every little sacrifice, every glance and word, and the doing of the least actions for love…”

    “I leave to great souls and lofty minds the beautiful books I cannot understand, much less put into practice and I rejoice that I am little because children alone and those who resemble them will be admitted to the heavenly banquet. I am glad that there are many mansions in the Kingdom of God, because if there were only those whose description and whose road seem to me incomprehensible, I could never enter there.”

    “How happy I am to realize that I am little and weak, how happy I am to see myself so imperfect”

    “In my helplessness the Holy Scriptures and the Imitation come to my aid … But it is the Gospels more than anything else which hold my attention during meditation.” —St. Therese of Lisieux

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