If I tell you I’m going to pray for you or your intention, you should know that more than likely, in my mind’s eye, I see myself praying the Rosary on your behalf, and ultimately, within a day or two, you will be in my intentions as I am praying a daily Rosary. Today – October 7 – is a special day in our Church calendar – the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary (also known as Our Lady of Victory), marking the victory at Lepanto, securing Europe against Turkish invaders (read about it here.)
Many non-Catholics (and many Catholics) misunderstand it, unfortunately – they see the Rosary as a prayer to Mary and a stumbling block to prayer to Christ Himself and a relationship with Him. However, to me (and to Catholics everywhere), the Rosary is Jesus’s mother’s preferred prayer tool for us to use to recall the major events of Christ’s love and ministry, and pray through her, begging for her intercession before Christ her Son on our behalf.
In the Rosary, we’re taking our needs and in turn, asking Mary, at Christ’s side, to beg of Him for our own intentions.
in·ter·ces·sion (noun) \ˌin-tər-ˈse-shən\
1) the act of interceding
2) prayer, petition, or entreaty in favor of another
I have a few favorite Rosaries that I use in my own prayer… I still have the small, navy Rosary with tiny beads that I received for my First Communion. I also still have one with slightly larger black beads that our grade school principal Sister Mary Angelene ensured each of us had at our spot at the head table at our 8th grade graduation dinner from Holy Family School. The Rosary I keep in my pocket and use daily is one brought back from Rome by one of my grade school classmates and scouting friends, which he gave to each person in attendance at his Ordination to the Priesthood (it is the one pictured at the top of this blog post.)
Here is a bit of reflection on the Rosary from Pope Saint John Paul II, of whom it was widely known that the Rosary was one of his favorite prayers:
The rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christ-centered prayer. It has all the depth of the gospel message in its entirety. It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb… It can be said that the rosary is, in some sense, a prayer-commentary on the final chapter of the Vatican II Constitution Lumen Gentium, a chapter that discusses the wondrous presence of the Mother of God in the mystery of Christ and the Church” – Pope John Paul II, apostolic letter The Rosary of the Virgin Mary
Pope Benedict XVI, reflecting on today’s memorial, invited all people and families to pray the Rosary for the intentions of the Pope, for the mission of the Church, and for peace in the world, saying:
“It is as if every year Our Lady invited us to rediscover the beauty of this prayer, so simple and profound.” The Rosary, a “contemplative and Christocentric prayer, inseparable from the meditation of Sacred Scripture,” is “the prayer of the Christian who advances in the pilgrimage of faith, in the following of Jesus, preceded by Mary” – Pope Benedict XVI
In our own home, the ways and places we pray the Rosary are many – If you’re new to praying the Rosary, I would encourage you to find one or more that work for you, give it a try a few times, and work the best ones into your own personal schedule…
As we pray the Rosary, there are a few sets of reflections we can use – they are grouped into sets called the Mysteries of the Rosary. As we pray each decade (each fifth of the Rosary; each set of 10 Hail Mary prayers), we reflect on one of the Mysteries. Here are the Mysteries:
There you have it – if I’m praying for you, know that it’s likely while holding your intention in my mind while praying and reflecting on the Mysteries of the Rosary.
If the Rosary isn’t yet a part of your own prayer life, I would encourage you to try it once – perhaps even today on this Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary – and see where it takes your prayer life. I’d love to hear how it goes. If you DO already actively pray the Rosary, I’d love to hear more about your own places and ways of praying it, and the impact it’s had on your life.