In past articles, I have explored the benefits of mental prayer and developing good habits to help you pray throughout the day. Today, I’ll emphasize another form of prayer that should be part of your daily devotions: the Rosary.
And as May is the Month of Mary, now is an excellent time to renew your commitment to the Rosary.
The Power and Importance of the Rosary
Eight hundred years years ago, St. Dominic popularized the recitation of the Rosary and used this great weapon to defeat the Albigensian heresy. In 1571, Europe was threatened by the Muslim forces of the Ottoman Empire; Pope Saint Pius V asked the faithful to pray the Rosary and, against great odds, Christian forces prevailed at the Battle of Lepanto, saving Europe. More recently, in 1917, as World War I raged and the evil of communism spread, Our Lady herself appeared in Fatima and asked that we pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace in the world.
Despite the obvious power of the Rosary, many of us neglect it. We make excuses: We lack time. We’re bored. It’s too repetitive. We’re not sure we’re praying it right. We’re distracted.
I know these excuses because I’ve made them myself. Thankfully, I’ve now put most of these excuses behind me. You can too.
St. Louis de Montfort’s The Secret of the Rosary
Two years ago, on the Feast of St. Louis de Montfort (April 28), I was inspired to pick up his book, The Secret of the Rosary, which had sat long-neglected on my bookshelf. (Part 1 of The Secret of the Rosary is available for free here.)
What a splendid little book! As I read it, I frequently wondered, “Why had no one taught me these things?” or “How had I forgotten this?”
Because St. Louis is a far better teacher than I, I’ll only share a few of St. Louis’s “secrets” here. Please do read the rest for yourself.
Secret #1 – The Rosary Defined
I can’t improve on St. Louis’s opening paragraph, so here it is:
The Rosary is made up of two things: mental prayer and vocal prayer. In the Holy Rosary mental prayer is none other than meditation of the chief mysteries of the life, death and glory of Jesus Christ and of His Blessed Mother. Vocal prayer consists in saying fifteen decades of the Hail Mary, each decade headed by an Our Father, while at the same time meditating on and contemplating the fifteen principal virtues which Jesus and Mary practiced in the fifteen mysteries of the Holy Rosary.
Secret #2 – The Psalter of Jesus and Mary
The 150 Hail Mary’s of the Rosary correspond to the 150 psalms in the psalter. Because of this, the Rosary is considered the psalter of Jesus and Mary. St. Louis even boldly proclaims that the Rosary is more valuable than the actual psalter, as the psalms only prefigure Christ; whereas the prayers of the Rosary–the Our Father and Hail Mary–and its fifteen mysteries are centered in Christ.
Secret #3 – The Leaves, Thorns, and Bloom
Why is it called the Rosary? The Joyful Mysteries are the green leaves of the rose; the sorrowful mysteries, the thorns; the glorious mysteries, the bloom. With every Hail Mary, we give Mary a white rose; with every Our Father, a red rose. Thus, in praying the full Rosary (15 decades), we give Mary 153 white roses and 16 red ones. Quite a bouquet for our Blessed Mother!
Secret #4 – Conversion of Sinners
Do you want to convert sinners? Preach the Rosary. Pray the Rosary. This will change hearts. It’s that simple.
Secret #5 – Slow Down
If you’ve struggled with the Rosary, try slowing down. Rather than rushing through five decades at a time, consider praying one decade slowly and well. When you begin a new decade, pause and visualize the mystery before launching into the Our Father. (A visual aid of sacred art can help!)
Another technique to consider is to devoutly pause at the name of Jesus in each Hail Mary; you can also add a brief phrase describing Jesus in that particular mystery. So, for example, if you’re praying the Second Sorrowful Mystery, the Scourging at the Pillar, you’d pray: “. . . and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, scourged for our sins. Holy Mary, Mother of God . . .”
Secret #6 – The Rosary Confraternity
St. Louis recommends joining the Confraternity of the Rosary, which is a society of people that agree to regularly pray the Rosary. Ordinary membership means praying all fifteen decades every week. Perpetual membership means praying all fifteen decades once a year. Others agree to pray a full fifteen decade Rosary every day.
By joining, you get to share in the prayers of countless other Confraternity members throughout the world–even after death. To enroll visit here.
For me, the notion of ordinary membership in the Confraternity–just fifteen decades every week–was very encouraging. That amounts to about two decades each day. Who doesn’t have the time to pray a decade here or a decade there? Praying a decade at a time can also be a great way to begin for families with young children.
If you’ve neglected the Rosary, St. Louis de Montfort’s The Secret of the Rosary might be just what you need to renew your commitment to this devotion. And the month of May, which is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, is a perfect time to begin.
So let’s make some resolutions: (1) Join the Rosary Confraternity. (2) Spend ten minutes each night throughout May prayerfully reading The Secret of the Rosary. (3) Commit to praying at least a decade of the Rosary every day throughout May.
William R. Bloomfield is an attorney in Lansing, Michigan where he lives with his wife and five children. He is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville and the Ave Maria School of Law; he is also a veteran of the U.S. Navy JAG Corps. Most recently, he is the publisher of the Sacred Art Series, available through www.SacredArtSeries.com.