For the month of the rosary, let your fingers do the praying

Patheos is launching a special project for the Year of Faith—details to come—and I’m helping to get the ball rolling with a short reflection on the rosary: 

I still have my first set. Do you?

It was given to me as a first communion gift: simple black beads with a plain plastic cross. They’re small, child-sized, but I carried them in May processions when I was in grade school. They served to teach me the rudiments of one of our faith’s most popular—but often misunderstood—forms of prayer.

The rosary.

Since October is dedicated to this devotion, and since the Holy Father specifically recommended rediscovering the rosary during this Year of Faith, I thought it would be a good time to remind ourselves how meaningful it is, and to appreciate even more the part it plays in our Catholic culture…

 …You find rosaries today made of all kinds of material, from cheap plastic to expensive gems. I remember vividly the rosaries worn by nuns: massive black links that announced their approach with clack-clack-clack against black cloth. Occasionally, a search on EBay will turn up unusual monastic rosaries that have three mysteries and 150 beads. They must weigh a ton.Wherever it began, or however it started, the rosary remains a powerful source of inspiration and hope.

I know in my own life it has brought calm in the midst of many storms. This meditative form of prayer just works.

These days, I pray a set of square, wooden beads that I bought a few years ago at the Abbey of Gethsemani, in Kentucky. But my fingers still remember the first set I used—with deep affection and boundless gratitude. Who knows how many prayers were answered or graces received from using those simple black beads?

There’s more, including some history behind the beads.  Check it out.  And stop by The Anchoress, where Elizabeth Scalia has even more on this great devotion, including links to podcasts.


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