Patti Armstrong is an award-winning author and was the managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’ bestselling Amazing Grace series. Her latest books are: Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families and Dear God, You Can’t Be Serious. She has a B.A. in social work and an M.A. in public administration and worked in both those fields before staying home to work as a freelance writer. Patti and her husband live in North Dakota, where they are still raising the tail end of their 10 children.
In my early thirties, I was not sure how to pray the Rosary beyond the Our Father and Hail Mary beads. I had only prayed it twice before many years ago. One time was at a funeral home with my sixth-grade class in front of the casket of a poor classmate’s father. In just a snippet of a memory, I can still feel my tired knees while wondering how many more Hail Marys there would be.
My other memory is of kneeling in our living room as a child with my parents and five siblings. Perhaps my parents were inspired by the movies the Song of Bernadette about the apparitions of Our Lady of Lourdes or The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima. In both apparitions, the Blessed Mother asked us to pray the Rosary daily.
I am not sure if our family finished the whole Rosary before my mother declared it a failed experiment. Kneeling in a circle in close proximity of each other was too irresistible not to keep trying to make each other laugh. It was many years later while expecting our fourth baby that I came across a book on Marian apparitions. From that point on, our Blessed Mother’s plea to pray the Rosary took root in me.
A Daily Rosary
I vowed to say the Rosary daily which I did for half a year. But a few weeks after the birth of our fourth baby, in the spring of 1990, I planned to break the streak.
“I am so tired. There is no way I can stay awake to pray a Rosary,” I told myself after the baby had refused to go to sleep until very late.
At that very moment, I heard a book fall onto the bed from the bookshelf on the headboard. I was lying facing the other way. Before turning to look, I thought: “Watch it be the Bible and I’ll feel guilty for not praying the Rosary.” Instead, it was the very book with the Blessed Mother’s picture on the cover that had originally inspired me to pray the Rosary.
“Wow!” I thought, “What a coincidence!” I was suddenly alert enough to pray.
During this time, my husband was getting up at 4 a.m. for work so with the newborn baby, he was going to bed early in a guest room. I shared the amazing “coincidence” with him and the older kids the next day.
A few nights later, the baby again took an especially long time getting to sleep. I still had not prayed my Rosary yet so when I finally got to bed, I thought: “There is no possible way I can stay up to say a Rosary tonight. No way!”
At that very moment, before my eyes, the same book tumbled out from the bookshelf onto the bed. It again landed with the Blessed Mother’s picture face up. I was stunned. I had not been moving at all and the book had tumbled out with such force! I realized at that moment that neither episode was mere coincidence. I had no problem praying the Rosary that night.
“Why do you think that happened?” 5-year-old Luke asked me the next morning.
I explained my thoughts. “In the Bible, it says that after the Last Supper, in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked his apostles to stay up and pray with him. I believe that God was asking me not to go to sleep but to stay up and pray my Rosary. I think it is so powerful that God wanted me know not to skip it.”
Why Pray the Rosary?
“Why do you pray to Mary?” is commonly asked of Catholics. It is a meditation on Christ’s life in which we also ask for Mary’s intercession. When she interceded at the Wedding at Cana, Jesus performed his first miracle. From the beginning, Jesus went through Mary to come to us and we can find safe passage and holy influence by going through her to her Son.
The Hail Mary is a Jesus-centered prayer. “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” The Lord is Jesus. “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” There is Jesus again and Scripture says all generations will call Mary blessed.
“Holy Mary, Mother of God,” Jesus is God. “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.” Asking the Mother of Jesus to pray for us is a good and holy thing well worth staying up to do.
During the thirteenth century, Saint Dominic, founder of the Dominicans is said to have been instructed by the Blessed Mother in an apparition to pray this way as an antidote for heresy and sin. She imparted fifteen promises to Saint Dominic and Blessed Alan to those who recite the Rosary including many graces, special protections and abundant mercy.
“The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.” – Pope Pius XI
Sister Lucia of Fatima told us: “There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot solve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary. With the Holy Rosary we will save ourselves. We will sanctify ourselves. We will console Our Lord and obtain the salvation of many souls.”