Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Mary Moments: the Rosary Edition

It is October, the month of the Rosary, and so as we gather together to honor the Blessed Mother with our Mary Moments carnival, we're going to examine the rosary.

Earlier this year, I was blessed to host the Loveliness of Rosaries, and I shared there how learning the rosary was an adventure in unfamiliarity. These days, the rosary is more like a pair of comfy slippers that I put on when my feet are cold. It's a place I go to snuggle up and get down to the business of praying, though I often also turn there when I don't know what else to do, where else to turn. The rosary is a kind of blankie for me, a comfort that I return to.

You don't have to be Catholic to pray the rosary, and you don't have to know what you're doing. Think of it as a walk in the woods with your mother, her hand over yours, guiding you away from the stickers and muddy patches.

As we travel through the mysteries of the rosary together, we'll pray for the Culture of Life, thanks to a pamphlet our parish ordered and distributed for the 40 Days for Life. It's published by Catholics United for Life, and if you would like to order copies of the complete pamphlet, you can call them at 270-325-3061 and ask for stock #0337.

The Joyful Mysteries
The first five decades, the “joyful mysteries”, are marked by the joy radiating from the event of the Incarnation. This is clear from the very first mystery, the Annunciation, where Gabriel's greeting to the Virgin of Nazareth is linked to an invitation to messianic joy: “Rejoice, Mary”. The whole of salvation history, in some sense the entire history of the world, has led up to this greeting. If it is the Father's plan to unite all things in Christ (cf. Eph 1:10), then the whole of the universe is in some way touched by the divine favour with which the Father looks upon Mary and makes her the Mother of his Son. The whole of humanity, in turn, is embraced by the fiat with which she readily agrees to the will of God. (John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae)

The Annunciation
Father, Mary's "yes" brought Your Son into the darkness of our world. Enable us to put aside our own plans in order to welcome You wholeheartedly. May our "yes" transform the culture of death into a culture of life.

* From Lilymouse: "I am looking to buy a new rosary, since the beads of mine are really too small, but honestly I'm not sure why I'm bothering. My favourite way to pray is on my fingers. It seems to me at once simpler and richer. It makes me feel like I am a farmer's wife, sowing prayers, or a cottager in the back meadow where it meets the woods, stitching prayers into old useful calico, or a baker kneading blessings into bread patiently, thoroughly, without poetry but even so a deep purpose." Oh, and did you don't have to be Catholic to pray the rosary. :) Go, read the rest of her lovely reflection.

The Visitation
Father, all things are possible for You. Like Mary, help us to go in haste to help others and to persevere courageously in seemingly impossible situations.

* Purpleflowerpatch shares, "After my Catholic conversion I was surprised to find that whenever I prayed the Rosary the depth of love I felt for Jesus grew wider, deeper, stronger. It was quite a revelation! As a Protestant I had looked with scorn on the Rosary - yet, I had not even known what truly lay at it's heart. Jesus." She continues with a testimony of how the rosary has continued to change her life - her regular, everyday, living-in-the-now life. Go see for yourself.

The Nativity
Father, in Bethlehem's inn there was no room for Your Son. May parents tempted by abortion find the courage to make room in their lives for their babies. Give us opportunities to help them.

* Elizabeth shares her blog, Elizabeth's Rosaries, where she makes and sells rosaries to raise money for World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid. Way to go, Elizabeth! Now, go on over and check out her work (and don't resist the temptation to do some Christmas shopping!).

The Presentation
Father, unite our families in love. May we grow more like the Holy Family. Let us trust in Your constant loving care, rejecting contraception, abortion in all forms, suicide and euthanasia.

* Says Carmen, regarding the impact the rosary has had on her life, "The Rosary has made it possible for my daughter and I to connect to the Lord and to each other through the intercession of our Lady. It has helped me gain an appreciation of the Love of God as it relates to parenthood and sacrificial love." She also shares other thoughts on the rosary, full of tips and wisdom.

The Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple
Father, like Mary and Joseph, let us never stop searching for You. May we and our children seek and recognize Jesus, the model of self-giving love, in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

* Esther made a promise to the Blessed Mother to pray the rosary, but had some challenges: "I had trouble meditating on the Mysteries. I just could not meditate. My mind would wander and I would start out with the best of intentions and end up 15 minutes later thinking about something trivial. I tried everything I could think of in order to grow to love praying the Rosary. I continuously asked friends and family for the secret to meditating on the mysteries. I listened tapes on the Rosary, I read books, read Rosary meditation pamphlets, prayed it in Church, prayed it in a group....but to no avail.. I merely paid our lady lip-service. But since I said the Rosary, I felt I had met my obligation. It just didn't feel very fulfilled spiritually speaking....but I persevered." So what ended up happening? Well, I'm not going to give it away! You'll be glad you went to see for yourself!

The Luminous Mysteries
Moving on from the infancy and the hidden life in Nazareth to the public life of Jesus, our contemplation brings us to those mysteries which may be called in a special way “mysteries of light”. Certainly the whole mystery of Christ is a mystery of light. He is the “light of the world” (Jn 8:12). Yet this truth emerges in a special way during the years of his public life, when he proclaims the Gospel of the Kingdom. (John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae)

The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan
Lord, help us to accept Your grace, given at our baptism, empowering us to build a culture of life. Guide us as we discern by prayer and fasting our mission to bear witness to the light.

* Sister Spitfire takes on the "Mary Worship" argument, and reminds us "The Rosary is about resting in the Gospel. Praying the rosary is about meditating on Sacred Scripture and asking Jesus to speak to us. It’s about claiming the promises. It’s about imitating the lives of Our Lord and Our Lady. Over the years a big picture of sorts has developed for me, and I am only comfortable in saying that this is my personal understanding of the rosary. I do not wish to impose my understanding on anyone else who prays the rosary since they may have a different and equally valid understanding. This is how Our Lord speaks to me through this prayer at this place in my spiritual journey. I am also equally comfortable in saying that I have only scratched the surface of what the rosary has to offer in the way of other spiritual treasures." She doesn't stop with that, but shares history, scripture, and, in typical Sister Spitfire fashion, oh so much more. Enjoy!

The Wedding at Cana
Jesus, we pray that married couples embrace with joy the blessings of children and family life. Through the intercession of Mary, the "first among believers," grant them the strength to persevere to the end of their lives in faithful love.

* Cathy has a memory for us: "My next stop was my grandma's nightstand drawer. That's where she kept the most beautiful thing my young brown eyes had ever seen -- a set of rosary beads crafted from white plastic. Each bead was fashioned into a rosebud, and they were linked together by a silver chain. I felt like a princess when I put these around my neck and pranced around the apartment. Grandma let me wear them until it was time to go, when I reluctantly placed them back in her room. I couldn't wait to visit again, when I could gather up this precious "necklace" that made me feel pretty and special." From that humble beginning, the rosary has played a special role through Cathy's life, so be sure to stop in and find out how.

The Preaching of the Kingdom
Lord, may all, especially those who have sinned against life, accept the call to conversion as the Gospel is preached and seek the Lord's forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Your merciful love can transform the hardest of hearts.

Christicrux highlights improvements to praying the rosary, directly from John Paul II's apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae. The one that spoke to me the loudest from her list was this: ".In order to supply a Biblical foundation and greater depth to our meditation, it is helpful to follow the announcement of the mystery with the proclamation of a related Biblical passage, long or short, depending on the circumstances. 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”." But why trust my judgment when you can check it out for yourself?

The Transfiguration

Lord, may we listen to You, the beloved Son of the Father, and act upon Your words. Give us courage to live unselfish lives, even in the midst of suffering, with our eyes fixed on the hope of eternal life.

* Cathy has transfiguration of the body in mind, and it involves the rosary: "Most Catholics recognize the Rosary as a series of prayers, primarily Hail Marys, said in succession while contemplating the mysteries of the lives of Jesus and His Mother. What they may also admit is that praying the Rosary is an excellent means of bringing onself to a calm, peaceful place. Calm and peaceful = less stress. Spiritual growth and a flatter, healthier tummy? Sounds like a combo we should try." You're not getting the full feel for what she's saying, though, until you read the entire thing.

The Last Supper
With hearts full of faith may we meet You present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, at every Mass, and allow this reality to transform our lives and our choices. Bless Your Church with many fervent and dedicated vocations to the holy priesthood, diaconate, consecrated life, and married life.

* Heidi shares reflections for the Luminous Mysteries, as well as why they have a special importance for her: "these mysteries reveal in a profound way the humanity of Christ, which He received from the Blessed Mother. These mysteries are particularly meaningful to my family, for they coincide with special moments in their own spiritual development." Don't miss her reflections on the mysteries too!

The Sorrowful Mysteries
The Gospels give great prominence to the sorrowful mysteries of Christ. From the beginning Christian piety, especially during the Lenten devotion of the Way of the Cross, has focused on the individual moments of the Passion, realizing that here is found the culmination of the revelation of God's love and the source of our salvation. The Rosary selects certain moments from the Passion, inviting the faithful to contemplate them in their hearts and to relive them. (John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae)

The Agony in the Garden
Lord, in moments of darkness and anxiety, let us always choose Your will, no matter how difficult it seems. Strengthen all who are pressured by family and friends to sin against Your law.

* Margaret has quite a collection of rosaries: "My love of the rosary includes both saying the prayers and clutching the beads. Given a choice, I would have as many sets as I do moods—you know, kind of like coffee mugs. Let’s see, am I in a purple amethyst mood today…or am I feeling more rose-scented? None of the above! I need my sturdy wooden beads in this mood." She has an approach to the rosary that I can't help but relate with...maybe you will too.

The Scourging at the Pillar
Jesus, scourged for the sins of the flesh, help all who struggle for chastity in a world which holds it in contempt: young people who treasure their innocence, spouses who live a generous fruitfulness, single and divorced people who endure loneliness and remain chaste.

* Micki shares a holy card of Our Lady of the Rosary. Be sure to stop by and see it.

The Crowning with Thorns
Lord, let us never scornfully dismiss You and Your truth as Pontius Pilate did. Keep us always mindful that acts such as contraception, abortion, euthanasia, torture and genocide are wrong in every circumstance.

* Wondering how to pray the rosary, or looking for a refresher? Catholic Exchange posted a simple guide, along with the reminder of the rosary's promise: "In all Her appearances at Fatima, Portugal, the Blessed Mother repeatedly emphasized the importance of praying the Rosary daily and performing acts of reparation and sacrifice."

The Carrying of the Cross
Lord, You needed help when You fell beneath the cross. Convert our society which seeks to eliminate life when it is suffering and "inconvenient." May euthanasia and assisted suicide not become the ultimate weapons in a war of the powerful against the weak.

* Pat didn't always have such a good experience with the rosary, but, "Nearly 18 years ago, I met a new friend at church. She had three boys. Her baby was the same age as my only child at the time. As I got to know her, I learned her coffee pot was always on and her prayer of choice was the rosary. Her love for the Blessed Virgin Mary had a profound effect on me." It's a story that resounds with wisdom and possibility...maybe this is just what you needed to read today!

The Crucifixion
Lord, bless all who will die today, especially the innocent unborn, the forgotten aged, prisoners condemned to death, and those caught in violent conflicts. Bring all in mortal sin to repentance and salvation. Help each of us to be ready for the hour of our death.

* Christine shares a homily from the Feast of the Holy Rosary reminding us not to despair. "Mary’s rosary is our picture book of faith, hope, and love. Here in the unfolding images of Christ life: In His joys, through His luminous love, in His sorrows, in His glories; he prepares us for everything that will take place. The will of God is being realized in each event of Christ’s life, in Mary’s life, and in our life. And Mary will help us say “Yes,” and give our free and full assent to His divine plan." Go, read the rest!

The Glorious Mysteries
The Rosary has always expressed this knowledge born of faith and invited the believer to pass beyond the darkness of the Passion in order to gaze upon Christ's glory in the Resurrection and Ascension. Contemplating the Risen One, Christians rediscover the reasons for their own faith (cf. 1Cor 15:14) and relive the joy not only of those to whom Christ appeared – the Apostles, Mary Magdalene and the disciples on the road to Emmaus – but also the joy of Mary, who must have had an equally intense experience of the new life of her glorified Son. (John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae)

The Resurrection
Holy Spirit, give us a contemplative attitude, full of wonder, as we gaze on each person created for You for eternal life. May the laws of our country respect the right to life of every human being from conception until natural death.

* Kid sister of Imelda had a "third hour" of prayer recently, and she posted what she could remember of her insights into the Luminous Mysteries. "Bread. Wine. Simple food. Brought by sinful men, held in imperfect hands, shared even by a traitorous friend. What did our Lord do? He took it, blessed it, broke it, perfected it, shared it… and in doing so, gave Life. The bread and wine, like the prefiguring loaves and fishes, was useful to our Lord… not because of the perfect hearts and right belief of those who brought it, not because it was an adequate offering… the apostles themselves thought it insignificant and unworthy… but because of the perfect heart and holiness of He to whom it was given by faith. Our Lord repeatedly took imperfect gifts and sanctified them, made them holy, multiplying them, and using them to bless… to give Life. Who then are we to refuse the gift of another made in our Lords name and to our Lords sheep, no matter how blemished, imperfect, unclean the heart of the giver in our eyes? Is it not a lack of faith on our part? Just as the apostles lacked faith that God could do anything worthwhile with a few simple loaves and fish?" There's plenty more where that came from!

The Ascension
Holy Spirit, You send us to proclaim the Good News to the world. Inspire us to witness to Your message of hope by humble faithfulness to the Gospel of Life in our day-to-day lives.

Sarah's rosary is a comfort to her, "When I am troubled, when I am in need, when I find myself unsure, it is in the rosary that I find comfort. It is where I turn when I need to turn to God but find only a large glob of anxiety covering me. It is the place I go, the lap where I lay my head, the way I find my Father and appreciate how much he loves me, how closely he listens, how gently he hugs me." The rest is here.

The Descent of the Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit, fill us who are poor, weak, and vulnerable with the fire of Your love as you did the Apostles at Pentecost. Let us boldly go forth to proclaim the Gospel of Life to the world.

* Recently, Joseph Pronenchen, of the National Catholic Register, wrote about the scriptural rosary and its role in unlocking the mysteries. "“Do you ever get distracted while praying the Rosary? Struggle to stay focused? Find yourself zipping through the decades over the speed limit?” he writes. “If 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.” It's an article worth reading in full.

The Assumption
Holy Spirit, Spouse of Mary, You welcomed our Blessed Mother into heaven. We ask her motherly intercession for those who nurture new life at its delicate beginnings and those who are near the end of their earthly life.

* Though it was compiled back in May, the Loveliness of Rosaries is a collection of rosary-related posts worth spending some time perusing. You know, because you have all this free time... NO! Because you owe a cup of tea to yourself! Maybe the post that didn't strike a chord with you here is over there, nestled in among the reflections. It's worth a visit, don't you think?

The Coronation
Holy Spirit, source of Mary's humility, You crowned her as Queen of Heaven. You welcome the humble, pure, and merciful into the eternal kingdom where the last shall be first and the first last. Never let any of us be separated from You by pride, disobedience, or selfishness.

* Michelle prays when she runs. But at the insistence of a priest, she's been trying out praying it as a family, despite some of her early objections: "I DON'T WANNA! Mentally, I threw myself down like my three year old, kicking my feet and writhing from side to side. Really, no matter how far along the path I may think I have come in shunning selfish behavior, I find myself right back at square one: ME AND WHAT I WANT." It all turns out...well, you'll have to go find out for yourself.

* CatholiCity Free Rosary CD
* Rosary Army
* U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Rosaries for Life
* Rosary Center of the Rosary Confraternity

Next Month: the Saints Edition
In November, we'll consider the saints and Mary.
* How does devotion to Mary make you more saintly?
* How has her intercession changed your life?

Submissions are due by November 10, using the online form or by emailing me at peerybingle [at] gmail [dot] com. If you don't have a blog, you can still participate! I'll post your entry as a guest post over at my blog.

About the image: My friends Jim and Gloria shared these rosaries with me for a bulletin article earlier this month. They are rosaries made by Jim's deceased grandfather, who had quite a passion for rosary-making. From the article, "Grandpa made hundreds, if not thousands, of rosaries, all to be given away. Family and friends, neighbors, visiting priests, bishops, and fellow parishioners received these as wonderful gifts. At the pinnacle of his rosary making, Grandpa began sending them to missions. In addition to natural materials like pecans and other nuts, Grandpa looked for other materials to use in making his precious gifts. Old jewelry, clear and colored glass beads, tiny squares of hand-whittled wood with even tinier holes hand-drilled into the centers, and other matching items, were transformed into treasured gifts."