Thursday, October 7, 2010

Pray the Rosary, soothe the soul

On this feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, I wanted to share some bits and pieces about praying it that I have collected throughout the years. One overarching theme stands out in my mind, however, that this devotion is something that each and every one of us can comprehend, incorporate into our lives, and spiritually benefit from.

The first misconception about the Rosary is that it is “vain repetition”. Usually, this criticism comes from people who claim scripture alone is the only authority (left up to the interpretation of each individual, of course). The term “vain” is key here. Repetition itself is not a bad thing. In fact, beauty is most often observed in the perfection of patterns. Humans were designed to enjoy repetition. Think about favorite songs, traditional family holidays, the daily routine that gives us a sense of peace. “Vain repetition” is a very different thing, however. It is an action that is not directed towards anything in particular. Its repetition does not have a purpose. Its words are empty. It does not invite contemplation. The Rosary, on the other hand, is directed towards the contemplation of the life of Christ, each repetition beseeching Mary to pray for us as we come to know and love her Son more deeply. Therefore, the Rosary could not be considered “vain” in its repetition.

Once we have overcome the squeamishness about repetition, the question of practicality often arises. Often people will say, “I would love to pray the Rosary if only I had the time.” Time is often not the real issue. It is desire. But, for the sake of argument, if time really is an obstacle, there are a variety of ways to overcome this. I have found that praying the Rosary in the car is most effective for a variety of reasons: 1) It keeps the kids from starting silly disagreements with one another 2) They are all strapped in, prevented from moving around and 3) Happy moms pray better. Another helpful idea is to break up the Rosary. Say one decade a night before bed. The family gets the benefit of the Rosary while taking into account the attention span of its tiniest members.

One of the greatest things about the Rosary is its universality. The Rosary has continued to thrive as a devotion in cultures throughout the world. My husband grew up saying it in Vietnamese. I learned to pray it in English. Our whole family has learned to pray it in Latin. Its beauty is unmistakable in any language. To the devoted Catholic who prays the Rosary with regularity, the comfort and the peace bestowed upon the soul by the prayer of our Blessed Mother is truly priceless.


  1. "Happy moms pray better"-so true! A captive audience can be a wonderful thing! Praying the rosary in Latin sounds beautiful-maybe that's a goal I should set for myself!

  2. Beautifully done! Keep up the good work!!

  3. Thanks for this beautiful reminder. One thing I'm thankful for about the rosary is that the decades are described as "mysteries" or the rosary. Mysteries can never be fully understood, and so the rosary and its mysteries can be meditated upon over and over, and never be the same. Repetition? Not when I meditate upon this gift.