Some parishes pray a living rosary with giant beads, others with tableaux. The one at Holy Angels has a different twist.
It was the feast of the Annunciation, March 25, at the mainland Maryland parish that includes St. Clement's Island.
Those of us who were there for the first time watched curiously as the Knights of Columbus laid a rope of light bulbs the length of the aisle and back again, starting from a large cross in front of the altar.
As the western stained-glass window flamed with the sunset and then darkened, the people were asked to move into the center aisle.
“One person to a light bulb,” the reader told us. “Pick up your light bulb carefully, and after the rosary, when you put your bulb down, do it very carefully.”
We recited the Creed together. Then the Knights moved from bead to bead, tightening a bulb in its socket for each prayer — blue ones for the mysteries, white ones for the Hail Marys.
With each white light, the reader named a state; with each blue light, a continent. The person holding the newly lit bulb began the prayer, and the congregation gave the response. One after another the lights came on, until we had formed a glowing wreath.
The living rosary is a rosary for life. For each mystery, there is a prayer: for expectant fathers and mothers, for doctors, for those who have had an abortion. We prayed for healing, repentance and a deeper recognition of the sanctity of life.
After the rosary came the Mass of the feast of the Annunciation. And then the Knights entered in procession, carrying a plain heavy cross of logs and raising it before the altar. We knelt and prayed the litany.
“Foundation of the Church …”
“Save us, O Holy Cross!”
The living rosary we prayed at Holy Angels was devised by parishioner Millie Huseman; the prayers for life are by the Father Andrew White Assembly of the Knights of Columbus. For years, the living rosary has been prayed in October, at the blessing of the fleet, either at St. Clement's Island or at a Marian shrine on the mainland — perhaps the same place where Father White began his evangelization of Native Americans. For the past eight years, the rosary has also been part of the Annunciation Mass at Holy Angels, the International Day of the Unborn.
In January, a delegation from Holy Angels went to Zambales, Philippines, to attend the World Marian Congress. There they helped adapt the living rosary for the Philippines, with its more than 70 provinces.
The hope at Holy Angels is that the living rosary will become a truly global prayer of repentance, hope and love.