By Barb Ernster
Praying a daily Rosary seems easy enough, but sometimes it is not. The five mysteries might be scattered throughout the day, prayed hastily while driving to an appointment or not started until evening when sleep takes over.
Then guilt sets in: “Mary, why can’t I do this one thing for you?”
Mary identified herself as “the Lady of the Rosary” at Fatima and asked once more on October 13, 1917, the sixth and final apparition in the Cova da Iria, “Continue to pray the Rosary every day.”
What is it about these 50 Hail Marys, six Our Fathers and six Glory Bes? Of course, it’s not about the number of beads that move through your hands; it’s about the meditation that moves through your mind. Mary is showing us how to lift our hearts and souls to God. And we need help with that.
I’m guilty of letting my daily Rosary become a thing that has to get done amid all the other things in my day. I can tell when my heart is not in it. This might set in as a pattern that lasts for days or weeks. I notice the difference in my disposition, the level of anxiety that can consume my mind about all the things that need to get done. And underneath all of it is a constant, gentle voice calling me back: “Start your day with prayer and put all your worries in the hands of God.”
Doesn’t a mother know what’s good for her children? Surely the Blessed Mother in heaven knows what’s good for us, but we don’t want to take the medicine.
God wants to give us peace, and through Mary, He has given us a means to obtain it. The Rosary settles our minds and hearts and focuses our attention on Him. When I pray it with my heart, immediately I notice the peace. This happens as well when I spend time in Eucharistic adoration or during Mass. If this is the medicine for my soul, I need to take it.
In fact, we can obtain peace in the world through this powerful means. The problem is, we don’t want to believe in its power. It can’t possibly be this simple.
Our Lady is inviting us to participate in the plan of salvation and the peace of the world. We don’t get to see how our prayers lifted up to God—with our hearts—is impacting this world, but that’s when we are asked to believe without seeing. “Blessed are those who believe without seeing,” Our Lord told St. Thomas. Perhaps it would help us to be like Thomas and put our fingers into the holes of Christ’s hands and feet and say, “Lord I believe; help my unbelief.”
On the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary this Saturday, the First Saturday of October, pray the Rosary with all your heart, meditate with Mary and allow the peace to settle over you. Let Mary place her mantle over you and wrap you in her Immaculate Heart like a warm and comfortable blanket. Then, do it again the next day and the next.
Jacinta, the youngest Fatima seer, told Lucia something that Our Lady had revealed to her: “The Heart of Jesus wishes to be honored together with the Immaculate Heart because God has entrusted peace to her.” Then she added, “Oh, if only I could put in everybody’s heart burning fire I have inside me which makes me love the Hearts of Jesus and Mary so much!”
She experienced the fire of God’s love by doing what Our Lady asked, which helped her grow spiritually to the point that her life became a constant offering to God for others. No offering was too small for her ever-expanding heart. It started with praying the Rosary every day.
There’s a story of her simple faith in the power of the Rosary and Mary’s desire to help us in the book The Youngest Prophet (Christopher Rengers, OFM Cap). She had met a soldier who was crying because he had received orders to go to war. His wife and three children would be left behind and his wife was ill. Jacinta invited him to say the Rosary with her and assured him, “Don’t cry, Our Lady is so good.” The day before he was to leave, his orders were cancelled. But Jacinta never forgot him and from then on, prayed an extra Hail Mary for him after her Rosary. What a beautiful way to end a Rosary, with one more Hail Mary for someone on your heart. Or with Jacinta’s favorite prayer: “O my Jesus, I love You. Sweet Heart of Mary, be my salvation.”
It is not hard to see why Our Lady recommended the Rosary as the best peace prayer. The Rosary is a handy formula, made venerable by its use over several centuries by millions of Christians. It has helped many people to keep the truths of the Gospel in mind day by day. It has done so because it is simple, handy and visible.