Bernardo Cavallino (1616–1656), “The Vision of St. Dominic”
I remain a fitful servant and student of prayer — sometimes saying the Rosary with ease, and other times, struggling to get through a decade.
The saints tell us Mary brings with her graces when we recite the Rosary. In my own life, story after story reveals how, through the Blessed Mother’s intercession, people have returned to the faith, recovered from illness and found the strength necessary to bear the burdens of ordinary life. I have known miracles both sublime and mundane in answer to her intercession. I have seen her charity to me and those I love. She’s answered every call and even when the petitions have been at best, frivolous — and most especially when they’ve sounded, even to one’s own ears, desperate.
Mary remains for us, in all things, our mother. Like a mother, she offers us her hand whenever we reach out with the Rosary — whether we make it through the whole of it, or a single bead. She is ever offering to be present, and never tires of our coming to her and asking. Over the years, I’ve heard people treat the Rosary as another sacrament, and affix to it an obligation on the part of the body of the Church to say it. But while it’s not strictly obligatory, she clearly wants to remind us how important it is to orient our hearts toward her Son. It’s necessary for our salvation that our hearts turn to her Son.
We can live without brushing our teeth, but our breath will stink and our teeth go bad and our health will suffer. So also, we must find Jesus Christ at the center of our hearts, or we will not be able to thrive in this world or what comes after death. Mary is simply reminding us of what we might forget or neglect in our distraction. It is out of love that she offers us this tool.
Sometimes our response is parallel to the ones my kids give when I say, “Let’s go to the library.” Or “Did you start your summer project yet?” I can see what’s coming ahead of time (the end of summer and the start of school), so I’m dropping helpful hints, warning them to manage now better. I will grow more urgent as time slips. Sometimes I wonder if Mary does this too — but one thing I know she does not do is to get irritated at how often I need reminding. She’ll just keep putting her hand out, offering the Rosary as the surest way to her Son.
P.S. If you don’t get through a whole decade of a Rosary, try again the next day, and ask her to help. Take the rosary with you. Snatch ten in the shower, and ten more in traffic, ten more during lunch, and ten on the commute home, and ten with your spouse or children. Take her to your exercise at the gym, or with you to adoration. She’ll walk you through it. Don’t worry if you drift off in the midst — she’ll bring you along as far as you’re willing. Just keep at it, and it will grow easier. She won’t scold. Just keep asking her to hold your hand, and the graces will abound. She will rejoice to bring you to her Son.
This article originally appeared Aug. 3, 2019, at the Register.