Yesterday afternoon, while helping me pick out an outfit for an upcoming out-of-the-ordinary event, a friend pointed out that my earrings looked a lot like rosary beads. Go figure — the one item I own from Tiffany’s turns out to be a subtle reminder of who we are: a pilgrim people with our eyes toward Heaven. And the Rosary is a tool and school toward our destination. Praying with the Mother of our Lord incarnate, we can better make progress, as she guides us through and draws us closer to God through the life of her Son. Pope Benedict talked about this school of prayer Sunday in his Angelus message as he prayed with the bishops gathered in Rome for Synod for the New Evangelization going on these next three weeks there:
I would like to suggest to everyone to renew the prayer of the Rosary in the upcoming Year of Faith. With the Rosary, we allow ourselves to be guided by Mary, model of faith, in meditating on the mysteries of Christ, and day after day we are helped to assimilate the Gospel, so that it shapes all our lives. Therefore, in the wake of my predecessors, especially the Blessed John Paul II, who ten years ago gave us the Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, I invite you to pray the Rosary personally, in the family and in the community, learning at the school of Mary, which leads us to Christ, the living center of our faith.
A little closer to home for some of us, I talked a year ago today (or it was published a year ago today, we talked a few days earlier), with Sister Mary Catharine Perry of the Dominican Sisters of the Rosary in Summit, New Jersey. It’s just a few blocks from a commuter train station, and just happens to be one of the most peaceful places you’ll find in the New York metro area.
Sr. Mary Catherine had some advice for the busy commuter types from inside the walls of her cloistered monastery (she’s a real, life nun):
That God has created him (or her) to know, love and serve God. This is the vocation of every person and not the domain of the cloistered nun. Most people are not called to live the life I lead.
Everyone is called to become holy, to experience union with God, to share in Trinitarian communion. The means to that is different for each person, but no matter what ones does in life, it can become a means of holiness. I can only imagine how tiring it can be to ride the train day after day into NYC, but that ride can become an opportunity for prayer and contemplation.
Look how many people stick earbuds in their ears or glue their eyes to their smartphones. This 52-minute ride can be a moment of prayer. The thousand interactions of each day can be moments of “holy preaching,” just by a smile, a gentle word or a listening ear, no matter what one feels like.
It might be a little harder than in the monastery but one can develop the capacity with God’s grace to live in his presence.
Sr. Mary Catharine is a talented writer — including of a fun mystery novel. Why be cloistered in a convent? “Because God is everything to me. He gave me my life, and I can’t be satisfied until I give it back to him in a total and radical way. Nothing else really matters,” she told me.
We don’t have to be a cloistered nuns to respond to the Lord, totally and radically, with our lives, all our lives. Walking through the mysteries of the Rosary can help us — to see better how our lives can be conformed to Christ, transformed by Him. Coming to better understand and live that is what this New Evangelization is about, it is what our lives are about. And praying the Rosary can help.
The Summit Dominicans make great soap, by the way.