She Holds My Hand and Helps the Willing Withered Heart

When we pray the Rosary with love and devotion, our Lady instructs us and leads us closer to Jesus.

(photo: Bernard van Orley, “Maria mit Kind”, first half of 16th century)

This past year, I found myself falling out of the Rosary. It began with summer vacation and the change in routine. Juggling two college students with jobs and the other kids’ activities, the Rosary became harder and harder to fit into the schedule. I tried breaking it into decades. Still, there were days it didn’t happen. I told myself, “It’s okay.” God doesn’t have a check list, and he isn’t marking me tardy on an assignment for not practicing this devotion. Still, the comfort of rationalism allowed me to slip into forgetting altogether. By the fall, my rosary sat in my purse and I considered it a victory if I plowed through a single decade.

Once work and school started, the Rosary, like housework, became something I’d get to, that somehow, I never got around to doing. However, Mary, being a good mother, makes house calls. She left reminders in my way. I ran into a friend who is part of a group of women with a Marian devotion while picking up some papers at school. Cleaning my daughter’s room, I found another rosary. The Marian feast days reminded me I should return and I made an earnest effort, but it didn’t take. The next week would roll by and I’d be back to the “Oh gosh, it’s too late to even start,” as I drifted off to sleep in the evening.

By Christmas, I knew, I needed to return. In life, in work, in the lives of friends, there were just too many things which needed, begged for prayer. I tried my father’s trick of praying in the car and two of my daughters instantly chimed in, and I could hear Mary’s gentle, “See how easy this is, and how much I love visiting with your daughters?” For a few days, the prayer got easier, though I still sometimes hit the “Come Pray the Rosary,” web page and found myself drifting through the prayers. This battle would need real help.

With the new year upon us, I visited a friend’s Saint Generator, and before you push the button, you are supposed to pray. I prayed. I really prayed. I begged. “Jesus, I’m going to need super help with this, I’ve been failing and falling, and I want to return to the rosary. I want to pray it again, and to have it be a real prayer, not a routine. Please, I need some super help.” I imagined I’d get Saint Dominic, Saint Louis de Montfort, or Saint Pope John Paul the Great. Evidently, I needed bigger help.

Jesus didn’t pull any punches. He gave me his mother. She’s been there every day since, holding my hand, helping me on the slow days, and urging it each day, and it is becoming easier. However, I also know why it became hard, and why I need so much help now. The petition a prayer method of the rosary is part of what made me drop off praying the devotion in the first place. I recognized I was turning this prayer into a God “Honey do” list and I knew, it needed to be something more. I wanted something deeper than I was giving God, and that dryness came from recognizing, I was trying and boy does it sound silly to say so, to use God, to pray and get that box checked off showing I was a good Catholic, I deserved to have my prayers answered. Saying it aloud told me how silly I’d been in my prayer life, and how far off track one could get in a moment without mindfulness.

So Mary is leading me. She instructs me. Praying the first decade, one should offer praise. The second decade, be awed by his glory. In the third decade, bring your faults and your sins, and beg for grace. In the fourth, bring others and your petitions, and in the fifth, offer gratitude and thanksgiving. It keeps me mindful, both of what I owe to God (everything), and what I can trust God will give out of love, (also everything).