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Rosary aficionados exhort Catholics to spend October, the month of the Rosary, learning the scriptural Rosary — and to make an especially ardent plea for Mary’s help in keeping up with the devotion on Oct. 7, memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary.
BY Joseph Pronechen
Do you ever get
distracted while praying the Rosary? Struggle to stay focused? Find yourself
zipping through the decades over the speed limit?
so, you know what it’s like to feel disappointed in prayer. Or to feel like you
must be doing something wrong. From there, it can be a short skip to not even
trying the next time.
giving up on this powerful prayer is exactly what the devil wants you do to,
notes Edward Sri, author and professor of theology and Scripture at the
Augustine Institute in Denver.
suggestion: Spend October — the month of the Rosary — learning the scriptural
Rosary. This is the version John Paul II cherished and recommended in his 2002
apostolic letter Rosarium
Virginis Mariae (The Most Holy
make an especially ardent plea for Mary’s help in keeping up with this devotion
on Oct. 7, memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary.
who wrote The New
Rosary in Scripture: Biblical Insights for Praying the 20 Mysteries (Servant, 2003), says that whenever he gives a
talk about praying the scriptural Rosary, he’s surprised by the excitement with
which Catholics of all ages respond.
too, he can relate. “I prayed the Rosary for a long time, but studying John
Paul’s teaching on praying the Rosary had a profound impact on my life,” he
says. “He offered encouraging, practical advice on how we can encounter Jesus
in the heart of the Rosary.”
so spiritually attractive that even youth stick with it, says Sri. And that’s
no accident. As John Paul wrote, “If the Rosary is well presented, I am sure
that young people will once more surprise adults by the way they make this
prayer their own and recite it with the enthusiasm typical of their age group.”
my experience, the Holy Father was right,” says Robert Feeney, author of The Rosary: The Little Summa (Aquinas Books, 2004). “The kids are always
looking for authenticity and in the John Paul method, they find the real deal.”
a religion teacher at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Va., says he’s
discovered that 95% of his students continue praying the scriptural Rosary
after learning it. When he assigns them to teach five others this meditative
method, many start with their parents.
guide participants in starting the scriptural Rosary, both authors outline the
basics John Paul gave in his apostolic letter: Announce the mystery, read a
related passage from Scripture, then pause in silence to let God’s word
penetrate heart and mind before vocalizing the prayers.
goal of the Rosary is to assimilate the mystery of Christ and to apply it to
everyday life,” Feeney points out. “You have to meditate on Christ in the
Scriptures to really assimilate these mysteries.” Hence the direction to read a
related Bible passage after announcing the mystery.
can vary with circumstances. For the First Joyful Mystery, for instance, “read
the Annunciation, a part of it, one verse, or even a word,” explains Sri. “The
power of God’s word should never be underestimated when praying the Rosary.”
John Paul noted, “No other words can ever match the efficacy of the inspired
word. As we listen, we are certain that this is the word of God, spoken for
today and spoken ‘for me.’”
God wants to tell us something,
inspire or encourage us in a certain way, says Sri. We see our life in new ways
with new insights by praying the Rosary this way. “If we rush into the vocal
prayer,” he adds, “we may miss out on the spiritual treasure that the Lord
wants to unlock for our lives through the mysteries of the Rosary.”
silently contemplate the mystery. Feeney’s students practice this meditation
during their Rosary project. For instance, after reading Scripture on the Fifth
Luminous Mystery, the institution of the Eucharist, they reflect on Jesus as
the bread of life and apply this to their everyday lives.
moving on to the 10 Hail Marys, John Paul gives two more strategies. First,
pray for the grace to imitate the virtue that is the fruit of the particular
mystery: the humility of God in the Annunciation, love of neighbor shown in the
Visitation, and the awe inspired at the Ascension.
gaze on a picture or icon portraying the mystery. Feeney, a third-order
Dominican, used an illustrated booklet from The Rosary Center
(Rosary-Center.org) while completing his booklet titled The Rosary: School of Mary (which is scheduled for release early next
John Paul’s method for all 20 decades, the Register’s own Guide to the Rosary (available at CirclePress.org) includes beautiful images, Scripture
readings, and practical points for meditation and imitation for each Hail Mary,
along with an additional clause to recite during each Hail Mary.
Register’s guide notes that, in the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery, for example,
after each “blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus” we can add, “who bore the
heavy cross for us.”
scriptural method works wonders even for those familiar with the Rosary.
have prayed the Rosary before, but I think the John Paul method really gives a
better aspect of praying it,” says Vince Kenney, a senior at Bishop O’Connell
High School. “You get to focus more in-depth on it, instead of speeding
taught his parents, who are auxiliary members of the Legion of Mary. “When
Vince brought this home, we were familiar with the tradition of embellishing
the Rosary already,” says his dad James. “The John Paul method is a logical
extension of the things we were doing.”
Kathleen, who says she’s had a love for the Rosary since kindergarten, likes a
vivid sentence or phrase to accompany each Hail Mary. “It gives more of a
picture of what’s going on with the mystery,” she shares.
you can’t incorporate everything at once, begin with only one decade a day,
suggests Sri. “It’s important,” he says, “to do something daily.” Then on
Sundays pray the whole Rosary as a family.
the end of his letter, John Paul challenges everyone to rediscover and
“confidently take up the Rosary once again.” Our Lady of the Rosary will surely help.
Staff writer Joseph Pronechen is
based in Trumbull, Connecticut.