Ok, so finally, finally getting back to the topic of Lent: several days ago I said I would share some of the personal practices I’ve chosen to incorporate into my life during Lent. It’s been a while since my last post because I’ve been busy with rehearsals for KnL’s Getty show (more on that at the end) and other stuff.
Anyways, what I wanted to write about today is the 40 Day Rosary Challenge!
I’ve noticed Rosaries occasionally worn as jewelry by folks who may or may not be aware of what the Rosary actually is (a tool to aid in a specific form of prayer), so I’d like to start off with this video:
If you’re like the woman in the video, and your mind just got blown by the idea that the Rosary is about prayer and not about the beads themselves, or maybe you’re not familiar with the Rosary and want to know how it works, check out this link to download basic instructions on how to pray the Rosary.
Many books, articles, videos, homilies, lectures, reflections, etc. on how to pray the rosary and why to pray the Rosary have been written/made/given by people who are way more qualified than me, including, priests, bishops, Popes, deacons, monks, friars, sisters, nuns, and Saints, so I’ll leave it to them to share the wisdom of the Church on the devotion of the Rosary (if you’re interested, Google can help:-) ). Instead, I’d like to share why I am specifically making a Rosary-a-day one of my Lenten practices this year, even though it’s a prayer form that is typically associated with the nice old grandmas that hang out at Church a lot:
1. The Rosary (re)acquaints us with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ – while the rosary at first glance seems like a boring repetitive exercise of prayers that cradle Catholics learned very young, the Rosary is actually centered around reflection on different parts of Jesus’s life, as outlined in the Mysteries that accompany each decade of the Rosary. The Knights of Columbus (3rd degree member here!) refer to the rosary as praying the Gospel. While Christians of different denominations sometimes disagree on different practices and teachings, one of the things we generally agree on is that knowledge of the Gospel is a foundational aspect of being Christian. The Rosary can be a great tool to help us recall what we’ve read in Scripture.
2. The Rosary can be an exercise in praying using the imagination – praying with one’s imagination is one of the Jesuits’ favorite forms of prayer: as I understand it, in the Spiritual Exercises by St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuits, he instructs us to use our imaginations to meet Jesus in several different scenes of the Gospel. Similarly, the rosary is an excellent way to engage this part of ourselves. Since each decade of the Rosary is associated with a part of Jesus’s life, we can engage our imaginations to insert ourselves into the scene: what does the landscape look like, smell like, feel like? What kind of clothes are people wearing? What do Jesus, his Mother, his Apostles and followers, and others look like? What are they talking about? The imagination can be a powerful place in which Jesus comes alive, meets us wherever we are, and even speaks to us directly.
3. The Rosary is a great meditation – This generally flows from #1 and 2 as far as providing us what to meditate on, and how we can meditate mentally. But while the individual prayers of the Rosary themselves can also be the focus of meditation, for the purposes of meditating on the various Gospel scenes presented in each set of Mysteries, the repeated prayers help establish a “rhythm” to the meditation that aid us in entering a meditative state. Also, vocally reciting the prayers allows us to engage our bodies in prayer as we engage our minds, hearts, and souls – in other words, the Rosary can engage the wholeness of the human person.
4. The Rosary is a great way to pray for others – praying a Rosary involves at least (I think) 67 prayers recited, which if offered individually for different intentions, is a lot! If you instead offer the entire Rosary for one specific intention, that’s a lot of prayer behind it! Any way that you decide to offer the Rosary for others is a good thing. As Jesus tells us, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be open to you!”
5. The Rosary can give us a break from our daily lives – yes, one can pray the Rosary even while going about one’s business: it’s one of my favored activities when trapped in the “purgatory” known as California freeway traffic. But to engage in the meditative aspect of it, it helps to set aside a specific time to engage in prayer. While daily life can get overwhelming with tasks, I try to keep in mind the words of one saint who said “everyone needs to pray for a half hour a day, unless they’re busy. Then they need to pray for an hour a day.” Personally, I find that making the time to pray, especially when I’m busy, can actually bring more order to my day: I get a clearer picture of what’s really important that needs to be done, my stress level goes down, I am more relaxed and smile more, and overall, my day just gets better!
6. His mom’s always willing to help us out – Jesus, of course, did a great job on earth of following the 10 Commandments, one of which is honoring one’s mother and father. His mother, Mary, plays a very special and unique role in what is referred to as “salvation history.” Just as Jesus listened to his mother while he was on earth, he still listens to her up in heaven, so while we can always pray directly to Jesus, asking his mom to pray for us (just like we would ask others on earth to pray for us) is probably a smart move!
Even though I know it’s good for me for all these reasons and more, I’m really bad at it! The fact is, I am quite well acquainted with the fact that I’m a sinner, that I have tendencies and inclinations that aren’t the best, that I don’t always find the motivation to do the right thing. Especially when it comes to the Rosary, I tend to find that I lose myself in the ins and outs of daily life and won’t always make the time to pray and talk with God. And those times that I do, I always find it a challenge to stay focused and engaged: when praying, my mind can flash through a seemingly countless number of things that don’t have anything to do with prayer (mostly this is an unconscious wandering, but occasionally it can be intentional)! Sometimes I even nod off or fall asleep!
But, one of the reasons that I call myself a practicing Catholic is because I stink at being one, and as they say, practice makes perfect, no? 😛 I am also fully aware that my desire for sainthood is not something I could hope to attain through my own effort and actions, that only the gift of God’s grace could even make this a possibility. Fortunately, God’s the generous type, so much that he sent his only Son who not only suffered and died for our sins and rose from the dead, he founded the Church on earth to help guide us back to Him and sent his Holy Spirit to guide this Church, as well as each one of us individually and personally! So, I took up the Rosary Challenge as a way to get better at it, and I’m hoping that it bears much spiritual fruit. 🙂
So, here’s where audience participation comes in! If you have any special intentions that you would like me to pray for, or even if you’d just like to have someone praying for you in general, feel free to hit me up: drop a comment here, or get in touch with me via Facebook or Twitter, and I’d be glad to pray for you! This helps out both of us: you get someone praying for you and you’re helping me keep one of my Lenten practices going, and I get help keeping up with a Lenten practice and get to engage in a spiritual work of mercy. Now that’s what I call “winning”!
If you would like more information on the Rosary, including the history behind it, what each of the prayers mean, why Catholics pray (or should pray) it, and how we should pray it, check out Catholic Answers page below:
In my next post, I’ll discuss why I am part of Kayamanan ng Lahi, a Philippine folk arts organization based in LA. Why would I write about folk dance on a spiritual blog? Well, you’ll just have to come back to find out, won’t you? It probably won’t come up until after we perform in this though: