Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The Rosary: A Path Through the Life of Jesus with Mary as a Guide

October is the month of the rosary. The rosary is part of the daily prayer of the Daughters of Charity. Each Sister usually prays the rosary privately, but may choose to pray the rosary together on retreat days or for special intentions. For myself, throughout the fifty plus years of my vocation, the daily rosary has been sometimes a blessing and sometimes a burden. A variety of factors have affected this. As I reflect now, it seems to tell a tale of the challenge of discernment, maturing, putting the accent in the proper places, and following God, rather than leading.

At present, praying the rosary daily is very much a blessing. I find the rosary an invitation to walk through the life of Jesus with Mary as my guide. I pray the four sets of mysteries in order in which Jesus lived them: Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious. Somedays, I find time to pray all four sets of mysteries; on other days, I begin where I left off the day before.

There is something the same about every rosary prayed and something very different. Each rosary is a series of the same prayers: Apostles Creed, 6 Our Fathers, 53 Hail Marys, 6 Glory Bes, and a Hail Holy Queen. I think I have found the rosary a burden when I have focused on needing to get the prayers in. B

ut, I have come to realize that these prayers are merely the accompaniment to the gift that God gives in the meditation on each mystery in the life of Christ. And this is different every time! I find now that I generally do not think about the words of the prayers as I say them. My fingers simply slip over the beads which remind me when it is time to change focus and pray with another part of Jesus' life. In a real sense, it is God who is at work in the rosary; God who blesses my effort each day with insight and inspiration.

Several years ago, I made a commitment to myself to walk 10,000 steps a day as part of an effort to maintain a general health. I usually pray the rosary as I walk each day, and thereby reap a double benefit of physical and spiritual health. Sometimes, God's blessing comes through  person I greet as I turn a corner, or the laughter of the children in the school yard, or the aspen trees turning gold in the autumn, the sun on my back, the wind in my face. It is a blessing that the rosary opens me to God's presence around me. As I walk and pray the rosary, I am able to stop trying to figure things out and be attentive to God's presence in my life: not 100 percent of the time; I do walk with my humanity, after all!

The rosary is often called the prayer of the poor. To pray the rosary, one does not have to read, or be learned, or figure anything out. One simple has to walk with Mary through the life of Jesus. And Mary is always ready to walk with us! It is a blessing to be poor. I am grateful that the rosary is a blessing in my life; perhaps it will always be or maybe not. The important thing about prayer will always be: "Pray as you can, not as you can't." I pray that God may always provide me with the means of being aware of His presence and the reminder to allow Him to lead me. Amen!

Written by Sister Mary Frate, D.C.

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