Never Abandon the Rosary
By: Lindsey Mitzel
Monday was the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The month of October is also devotionally known as the Month of the Rosary. In short, the Rosary is a devotion in which we meet Jesus more fully and intimately in meditating on aspects of Jesus’ life (mysteries). Mary has specifically asked many Saints to promote praying of the Rosary. In the recorded conversations of Marian apparitions, Mary almost always mentions two things: a call to repentance and praying the Rosary daily.
Pope Francis has said, “I want to give you some advice: Never abandon the Rosary. Never abandon the Rosary. Pray the Rosary, as she asked.” Pope Benedict XVI said, “The Rosary is a means given by the Virgin for contemplating Jesus and, meditating on his life, for loving and following him always more faithfully.” Pope John Paul II wrote in his apostolic letter on the Rosary, “Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness…” He has also said, “The Rosary mystically transports us to Mary’s side as she is busy watching over the human growth of Christ in the home of Nazareth. This enables her to train us and mold us with the same care.”
Mary is first a mother, and Jesus gave her to us to be our mother. She truly cares for us as a mother and wants us to grow intimately close to Jesus and his heart. In church approved apparitions, Mary is constantly asking us to earnestly pray the Rosary to seek peace and conversion for ourselves and for the world. Edward Sri writes, “The soul of the rosary is our contemplation of the mysteries of Christ, while the prayers themselves, that we recite, are just the body of the rosary”. When we seek after the soul of the Rosary—when we meditate on the mysteries—we grow in holiness and become more and more like Christ. Fr. Michael Gaitley has written,
Praying the Rosary is a place to meet Mary. It’s one of the best ways to develop the loving attitude of dependence on her . . . There’s something about praying the Rosary that helps us develop a filial attitude of being with Mary. I think this has to do with the peaceful rhythm of the Hail Marys. When we pray the Rosary, the goal is not so much to reflect on the words of the Hail Mary prayer itself. Rather, the Hail Marys are meant to be a kind of “background music” that helps us enter into contemplation of the mysteries. This background music is like the gentle hand of a mother on our shoulders, standing behind us, getting us to look at Jesus, contemplate his face, and love him through his mother’s eyes, mind, and heart. Praying the Rosary does something to the soul. It allows Mary to shape and form us according to the image of her Son.
I wasn’t raised Catholic, and I readily admit that praying the Rosary wasn’t only foreign to me, but difficult. I struggled for years with the idea of growing closer to Jesus through Mary. I was used to only talking with God, and it took me a long time to understand what a gift Mary is to us. My relationship with Mary has also grown gradually, but over the last several years, I have come to know Mary as a really wonderful and caring mother. I have received so much comfort and guidance from her during times of grief, and wisdom when I didn’t know how to deal with situations.
There’s a quote I like regarding why to pray the Rosary, “All I can tell you is if I say a Rosary, the day works; and if I don’t, nothing works” (33 Days to Morning Glory). Honestly, for me, sometimes it feels like after praying a Rosary the day gets harder, but at the same time, I’m able to sense the grace that’s also there to push through. Sometimes my best plans to pray at a specific time all fall apart, and I find I need to break the prayers up throughout the day in order to be able to pray a whole Rosary at all. Very gradually, I’ve noticed changes in how I perceive things, hear things, and handle things. Very gradually I can sense my heart changing. I don’t quite know how to put it into words, but I’ve discovered a mother who cares very personally and deeply for me, and also for those whom I care deeply for.
Two great books to learn more about praying the Rosary, and growing closer to Christ through Mary are: Praying the Rosary Like Never Before by Edward Sri and 33 Days to Morning Glory by Michael E. Gaitley, MIC. Another resource is Pope John Paul II’s apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae.
Lindsey is a mostly stay at home mom to three girls and a nurse practitioner. She loves photography, decorating, painting, reading, and warm places in the middle of winter. She dreams about writing children’s books, gardening, and maybe owning a horse someday. She also cannot say enough good things about coffee.