Real Life. Real Faith

The first time the Rosary crashed into my life, I was helping with an event at my parish. One night, I felt God telling me to pray a Rosary every day until the event. I’d never prayed a daily Rosary, so it seemed like a big ask. I did a quick count of the number of days remaining — a Biblical 40 days. My response was not the immediate fiat of Mary.Are you sure?” I asked God. I attributed this to an overactive imagination.

The next day, the request returned. I decided to go for it. I launched in and quickly learned that a daily Rosary is work. I wasn’t great at managing the prayers and meditations, and I hadn’t memorized which mysteries went with which days. There were even a few mysteries I needed to look up because I wasn’t sure what they were. I got through it and we had a successful event.

Then I stopped. There was a nagging feeling I should keep going, but I pushed it to the back of my heart. Too much work. Too busy.

Three years later, the Rosary returned. I was in a period of uncertainty and question marks, not sure what my future held and confused about my next step. A friend showed me a video on observing the Marian month of October by praying a full Rosary (all four mysteries) daily. It takes fortitude. I was intrigued. I’d recently had a prayer answered thanks to Mary’s intercession, and I was high on the joy from that. I accepted the challenge. I could do this. My days were long.

Four Rosaries a day is a lot. I quickly learned that I am not able to sit quietly meditating for as long as it takes, even if I spread them out. I took to pacing around the living room while I prayed to help me keep my focus. During that month, I received two big writing opportunities from out of nowhere. It couldn’t be a coincidence. St. John Paul II said, “In the design of Providence, there are no coincidences.” I was flabbergasted and ecstatic. I continued with the four daily Rosaries in thanksgiving for these blessings.

Then I stopped. I went through phases of praying a Rosary most days alternated with times when I wouldn’t. Over time, I said fewer and fewer.

Recently, the Rosary reappeared. While planning a vacation with extended family, I had qualms. I love my family, but like all families, we have some disparate personalities. I decided to pray a 54-day novena. I didn’t know it included a daily Rosary. “I can do this,” I thought. I have done Rosary marathons before. This time I had a regular prayer practice, so inserting a Rosary wasn’t hard. I quickly learned that I needed the Holy Spirit’s help before I launched in every morning to avoid falling asleep. The Holy Spirit is a reliable helper and I soldiered on. On the final day, I set down the Rosary beads and felt good. Graces abounded on that vacation, including near-perfect weather. It was a gift.

Then, again, I stopped. I arrived home with a head cold and a sense of sadness. I missed spending good time with my people, and reentering the life I love was hard. Before long, I was a raw bundle of emotion and aggravation. My husband wisely asked if I was still praying the daily Rosary. I admitted I’d stopped after the novena. Clearly, that was a mistake. That night I started again, and within two days, I was back to my regular joyful self. I loved my life again.

I’m keeping it up now. There is something mysterious about the Rosary. When I pray it, I feel good — better than good. I feel close to Jesus and my family and friends. I feel spiritually energized. But I wonder: Am I praying it because of how good I feel, or am I praying it out of love of God?

If I stopped feeling good, would I keep it up? I think yes. One of the many things I adore about our Catholic faith is the myriad of “tools” available to assist us in our journey closer to Jesus and heaven. The Rosary is one such tool, and as I reflect on its presence in my life, I notice that over time Jesus has been inviting me to encounter him this way.

There are other devotions that are just as beautiful that I don’t feel drawn to. I realize as I write this that the Rosary has been stalking me all my life, beginning in first grade when I received my first one. Now I have rosaries stashed around the house, in each car and on my office desk.

Perhaps it’s not a transactional thing at all but instead Jesus drawing me closer to him, and what I’m experiencing are the fruits of my yes to him. May is another Marian month; perhaps Jesus is asking you to meet him in the Rosary, too. I promise you he is a patient teacher, and if you stumble, as I did, he will still be there waiting. He is so good.