If you can’t stand the rosary, this article is for you.
Pope John Paul II loved praying the rosary, and that was a problem for me. I admired the pope’s wisdom, but I was an eighteen-year-old college freshman who couldn’t stand praying the rosary. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being Catholic, but the rosary seemed like the least appealing way to pray. How many of you reading this now feel the same way?
But since I was a freshman in college, I’ve prayed the rosary off and on again even though I didn’t like it. And through those years, there are things that I’ve learned that have changed the way I feel about the rosary. So here’s four reasons to give the rosary another chance:
Because the rosary isn’t all about you.
We live in a self-obsessed society. It’s all about me. Me. Me. Me. Even well-intentioned Christians can make their faith all about us. We pray because we want or need something. In the experience of life, God is there to help us work out the kinks so we can get what we want. And when we don’t get what we want, some of us give up on God.
But the rosary teaches you how a way to pray and not make it about you. In a 20 minute rosary, it’s all about Jesus’ life and not yours. (Actually, most Catholic exercises of prayer–including the Mass–share a common theme: it’s not about you.) Not praying for yourself can change the way you look at prayer altogether.
Because a lot can happen when you pray for 20 minutes.
When you pray a rosary about an intention, it gives God enough time to reveal something to you. Let’s say you are worried about whether or not you’ll get into a college that you applied to. If you offer up a casual, heartfelt prayer, it will always end up being thirty seconds of this:”It’s important to me to go to this college. If it’s in your will, please let me get in. God I need you…” Then you say “Amen” and you go on with your day. It’s like a quick email to God that you send just once.
But when you pray the rosary, you say your intention at the beginning, then you spend five decades praying. That gives God a chance to answer you by broadening your understanding of what you are praying about. So by the time you say “Amen,” you might have a totally new understanding of why you want to get into that college so bad. And that could mean more than whether or not you actually get accepted or not.
Because it’s an interactive Biblical experience.
Like it or not, we live in a media-saturated society, and it’s all about the things we see. I’ve heard so many people say that they can’t pray the rosary because it’s too boring. Actually no–you are the one who is boring. If a rosary is boring, it’s nobody’s fault but your own. When you commit to praying a rosary, you can choose one of four mysteries to contemplate: the joyful mysteries, the sorrowful mysteries, the glorious, and the luminous mysteries.
Each of those mysteries are divided into five different “scenes” from the Bible. Why not make those scenes more real? Put yourself at the foot of the cross. Feel the wind on your shoulders. Hear the hammer crush the nail.One of the most powerful rosaries I’ve ever prayed was when I had four hours to kill on a flight across the country. I directed a Matrix-style rosary. At the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan river, I imagined the scene with bullet-speed. I froze the moment when the first drop of water hit Jesus’ forehead, then I did a 360 degree sweep with the camera. You get the idea.
Because the rosary can make ordinary situations extraordinary.
When we pray while we do normal things, those tasks cease to be normal. How awesome is that? Now mowing the lawn isn’t an embarrassing chore, but a chance to pray and gain a deeper understanding of God. The rosary is a common-sense way to pray while you are doing other things. I mean, have you ever tried to drive to school and read the Bible? The rosary is unique because the prayers can become the “background music” to whatever you are doing. So turn off your radio on your drive to school and pray the rosary instead.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: give the rosary a chance. I can’t explain the impact the rosary has on me spiritually, but I know in very practical ways the rosary has been a helpful tool. And I hope the rosary well help you too.