As of yesterday, May 23, 2008, my family has prayed the rosary every evening for one year. That's an accomplishment I wasn't sure if we'd be able to stick with when we first started out, to be honest. We have good intentions -- one might even say fantastic, honest, enthusiastic intentions -- but while the spirit is willing, the flesh is often weak, as a wise man once said.
The rosary has been one of the most important Catholic prayers (the Mass being the most important prayer, accompanied by the Divine Office and the Stations of the Cross) for around eight hundred years. Many non-Catholics -- and I used to be one of them -- associate the rosary with the meaningless, babbled prayers of the heathens that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 6:7*, as well as with the "worship" of Mary. As my family has grown in the understanding of what the rosary actually is over the past six years, our understanding of this devotion has changed and we've taken it on as a habit we want to continue for the next year and beyond.
As a Protestant, I understood that the Our Father was a prayer straight from holy scripture, which of course makes it a worthy prayer for any Christian to pray. But I was stumped by the Hail Mary. I couldn't see any sense in it, any reason. I was so firmly convinced that Mary was totally unnecessary to the life of a Christian person that I actually prayed that God wouldn't hold my ignorance against me the first time I prayed those simple words. That makes me laugh, now, but at the time, woooo! I was afraid I'd be struck down dead like Ananias and Sapphira or wind up out in a field eating grass like Nebuchadnezzar or something.
As it turned out, of course, neither thing happened. Not only because Catholics don't worship Mary, but also because the words of the Hail Mary are taken from scripture as well; they're the words of greeting used by the archangel Gabriel at the Annunciation and those of Elizabeth when she first laid eyes on her young relative at the Visitation. Which are both two of the rosary's twenty mysteries that center on the life of Christ and who we are in Him.
The rhythm of the rosary is one conducive to prayer, we've found. The repeating of the ten Hail Marys for each decade helps us to corral and focus our meditations, rather than just being meaningless babble. And there's something about reminding ourselves many times per daily recitation that we will be forgiven our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us that keeps us mindful of one of our foremost duties to God and our fellow man. Meelyn does the introductory prayers and the first, third and fifth mysteries; Aisling leads the second and fourth mysteries. As a family, we've chosen to add the St. Michael prayer and the Memorare after the tradition Hail, Holy Queen to end it off nicely.
We keep a book of prayer intentions, so if you would like us to include you and your intentions in our daily prayers, email me by clicking the link on the middle right hand side of the main page.
*"In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them." --Matthew 6:7
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