My Baptist friend who sometimes prays with us at the abortuary doesn’t think much of the rosary.  He says the Bible warns against “vain repetition.”  He doesn’t like the fact that there are ten Hail Marys to every Our Father.   We try to explain to him that the words of the rosary are really scriptural but that doesn’t cut it.  We tell him that it is “vain” repetition  that is warned against, not repetition itself.    The Bible is full of repetition–you can’t have too many Glorys, hosannas,  hallelujahs, or Come Holy Spirits!

We were never a rosary family since my Dad wasn’t Catholic.  I think I started saying it as a young mother after learning about the Marian  apparitions at Fatima and Lourdes.  I would say a rosary at night, before bed, sometimes two of them, sometimes with my arms outstretched.  My hubby, who was going to be a Jesuit before we married, had been reading about the penances of Willie Doyle and it made an impression on me. A rosary a day was being recommended, and indulgenced, and I thought that would be nice.

I was trying to please God and one night, during the Lords Prayer, I said “Thy will be done,” and really meant it.  I was flooded with a sensation that I immediately identified as “sweetness.”  It was something I had never felt before and never since.  I remember thinking,  “Take me.”  I had no idea where I might go but I was ready.  The experience didn’t last long.  My first thought afterwards was to look in the mirror to see if I might glow or something.  No glow.

Thinking I might have had a religious experience. I read “Varieties of Religious Experience” by William James.  It seemed that religious experiences tended to follow a religious commitment.  Since it had occurred during a rosary, you might think I would multiply my rosaries but children multiplied and the rosaries didn’t.  On the whole, I was never very fond of rosaries.

In the 1980s a member of our prayer group received a prophecy beginning “My body is dying.  Prepare a vigil.”  One of the members of the group, Loretta, usually had a rosary in her hand.  Many prophesies were received, but Loretta was the only one who received them from Mary!  The one I remember best went:

My children , join me in my pain.  I am the mother of sorrows.  Kneel with me at the foot of the cross and share my pain as my dear child endured death. Mourn for the part your sins played in his agony.  Shed tears of grateful joy to know that he loved you enough to suffer all for you.  Share our pain so that you may never sin again.   I can be a channel of mercy for you. My son will deny me nothing.

And again:

My children.  I am bereft.  I grieve!  Loneliness overwhelms me and I have no more tears.  Cry for me –comfort me.  He is God and he was my son.  Cry for those who would still hurt him.  Wait with me at the tomb.  Hope in the resurrection.  Together we can rejoice in Jesus glorified

Over the years, though I went to daily mass, I would never join the rosary people after mass.  I guess I had things to do and places to go.  However, in the past couple of years  it started to seem like a good thing to try.   After all, the rosary comes so well recommended.  And both the rosary  and the chaplet of divine mercy only take a half- hour.

It has been my understanding that as the rosary prayers are repeated we are supposed to meditate on the joyful, sorrowful, glorious, or luminous mysteries.   That never worked out too well for me. It became apparent that half a mind can say the rosary prayers while another half goes on an entirely different track.   I would find myself thinking what I was going to buy at C-town on my way home, or what I would blog about or write a letter to the editor about.   Sometimes, though, remembering the intention before a decade would start a train of thought.  For example, the second glorious mystery about the wedding feast at Cana would remind me of the mass at the chapel in Cana in Israel over 20 years ago.   At that time my husband had left me and I found myself crying through the whole mass.  I would find myself praying for Dick, now deceased.  Sometimes I would ask God to bring to mind others to pray for and it is amazing what a wide range of people God knows!  All this time in am in the midst of other regular rosary people, likewise in their own rosary world with Mary and God.  There is really something about praying together with like-minded people that stills the soul and seems to bring God closer.   Though my mind wandered, I found that my little spontaneous prayers in between all the Hail Marys were more fervent, more heartfelt.   It is good to pray among praying people.  Two of our regulars have only become Catholics in the past couple of years but they seem to have taken to the rosary like ducks to water.   Go figure.

I am reminded of Immaculée Ilibagizai’s book, “Left to Tell.       During the Rwanda killings she hid in a little bathroom with six other women for three months, and said the rosary almost continuously.   It was her experience that she was somehow taught spiritual truths and grew in understanding during that time of prayer and emerged a much stronger, more trusting, more knowledgeable Christian.   In my humble opinion, any time we set aside to wait on God is amply rewarded.

Marian devotion, particularly the holy Rosary, leads us closer to Christ. Blessed John Paul II’s favorite prayer was the Rosary, which astonished many people. He was a brilliant man with a double doctorate, had an exceptional IQ and could speak 27 languages. Yet his favorite prayer was the Rosary, which he called “the school of Mary.” –Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz

Elizabeth Esther writes: One prayer that I’m trying to do every Friday is the Chaplet of The Divine Mercy. The message of this prayer is that God loves all of us and His mercy, poured out on the Cross, is greater than all our sins. I’ve printed out the instructions and use my rosary to keep track of where I am in the prayers. Honestly, I’ve never found a more genius method for keeping my mind and heart focused simultaneously during prayer than by reciting written prayers while keeping track on the beads. It’s like God invented this kind of praying just for distractable brains!

“Where ever two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”