I actually picked up the Rosary before I returned to the Catholic Church. A non-Catholic high school friend had gone on a trip to Rome, and since I was still Catholic then had brought me back a rosary from the Vatican. (He also brought back a photo of a statue of a pope that he and his sister thought looked like me. I have no idea who it was, really.) I didn’t pray the Rosary at that time; but in the year leading up to my return to the Church I pulled it out, and began to figure out what it was all about. I was doing a lot of business travel that year, and having the Rosary with me was a comfort.
The Rosary is probably the Catholic devotion; it’s also the one that non-Catholics look at and say, “Oooooh: vain repetition!” But that’s missing the point of the Rosary.
Yes, it’s a repetitive prayer: five decades (the usual daily allotment) has five Our Fathers, fifty Hail Marys, five Glory Bes, a Hail Holy Queen, and a variety of other things depending on just how you do it, because there’s more than one way. But it isn’t about the repetition; it’s about the five daily mysteries: five scenes or periods from the New Testament upon which to the meditate. The prayers to Our Father and to our Blessed Mother aren’t just words; we mean them sincerely. But at the same time, they serve to give our bodies something to do while our souls are attending to the mysteries. And in addition to that, you can offer up your Rosary, or individual decades, for your prayer intentions.
So in one small package you get:
- A devotion that takes a reasonably fixed period of time.
- An opportunity for meditation upon the things of God.
- A chance to intercede for your loved ones.
Which is to say, a way to spend time with God, that helps you focus on God, such that you don’t have to do all the work yourself, and when you’re done, you know you’re done. It’s the perfect antidote for planned spontaneity.
I won’t try to explain how to say the Rosary here; there are scads of websites and oodles of books, and frankly, though I’ve been praying it for years I’m no expert. But if you’ve not tried it, it’s well worth a try.