A Catholic Monthly Magazine

Too Cool for the Rosary?

Fr Kevin Bates

By Fr Kevin Bates SM

The Lenten Season gives the opportunity to re-visit and refresh elements of our faith that may have slipped out of sight behind the couch for some of us. As we lead up to the central mysteries of our faith through the sacred days of Holy Week and beyond, it’s worth reminding ourselves of some of the instruments that over time have enabled us to keep in touch with these mysteries. 

One of these, tucked deep in our popular tradition, is the Rosary. Many of us we grew up with the family recitation of the Rosary nearly every evening, with parental prompts to kneel up straight and speak up clearly! While these memories may not have been always positive, they may have served to shape something of our faith journey that sustained us in times of need especially.

Some inhabitants of more recent generations may well label the Rosary as boring and repetitive, lacking inspiration and relevance to today’s world. Others may have the Rosary tucked away as a kind of archival piece which is dusted off now and then when stories of the past surface. 

The Rosary has been latched on to by various devotional groups who layer it with their own piety. This practice has been part of the Rosary over the ages, as families, parishes and devotional groups added their own flavour to the prayer with extra ‘Trimmins’ as they became known.

It seems that, for some, the Rosary is regarded as somehow out of date and full of tedious repetitions. This is a real irony in an age when meditation of all kinds has become trendy, when ‘spirituality’ has become something of a buzz word, and when one’s spiritual quest has become a serious project. 

The Rosary is a resource providing a wealth of opportunities for imaginative reflection on the stories behind the saving presence of Jesus among us. 

The prayerful repetition of Hail Mary’s and the other linking prayers, creates a quiet space in which one can re-visit these Gospel events and engage with them. We can see ourselves participating in the stories themselves, taking inspiration and encouragement from them, making resolutions to live more faithfully in the light they shine on us. The repetition of the prayers can serve to quieten the heart and release the imagination, enabling us to be present deeply with Jesus as he makes his way among us. 

In case your memory needs jogging, here are the Mysteries we celebrate when we pray the Rosary:

The Joyful Mysteries:

• The Annunciation. 

• The Visitation. 

• The Nativity – the Birth of Jesus

• The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple. 

• The Finding of Jesus in the Temple.

The Luminous Mysteries

• The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan. 

• The Wedding at Cana.

• Jesus' Proclamation of the Kingdom of God.

• The Transfiguration. 

• The Institution of the Eucharist.

The Sorrowful Mysteries

• Jesus’ Agony in the Garden.

• Jesus is condemned to Death. 

• The Crowning with Thorns.

• Jesus carries his Cross.

• Jesus dies on the Cross.

The Glorious Mysteries

• The Resurrection of Jesus from the dead

• Jesus Ascends into heaven.

• The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles.

• The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary into Heaven.

• The Coronation of Our Lady as Queen of Heaven and Earth

As we add our own bits and pieces to the prayer, we need to stay in tune with the mysteries themselves. Some devotional groups are prone to add prayers that more than double the length of the Rosary and over-lay it with multiple expressions of guilt, as if God is hard of hearing! Maintaining our focus on the central mysteries of our faith rather than on our sinful selves is where the real nourishment and inspiration can be found.  

May you find some encouragement and peace as you pray. Good restful sleep may well follow!

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