The rosary, for many Catholics, is an “indispensable go-to.” CNS photo/Bob Roller

Sr. Helena Burns: Handy hints to overcome rosary stuggles

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  • October 13, 2021

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Handy hints to overcome rosary stuggles

Sr. Helena Burns, FSP

Are you struggling with the rosary? Struggling with praying the rosary? You are not alone. Many Catholics feel super guilty for not praying the rosary very much or at all.

Some Catholics pray the rosary, but find it a very tedious, almost unpleasant exercise. Why does this ancient prayer seem to be so problematic? As one who once struggled herself with hitting the beads, let me take a stab at what might be troubling so many would-be devotees of Our Lady’s garland.

First, some folks just greatly dislike rote, repetitive prayers. They get bored, or perhaps prefer spontaneous, creative, free-form prayer from the heart — a chat, a dialogue, a colloquy with God. Well and good!

However, just like a balanced diet, we should probably be a bit diverse in our prayer as well. After all, the Mass is as ritualistic as it gets! Rote prayers take the pressure off. They are a tremendous gift to fall back on in dry times.

The Holy Spirit and the Church have formulated glorious invocations for us that kind of “say it all.” There is also great leeway for variety with the rosary. There are untold numbers of books to pray the rosary with. “Scriptural rosaries” often insert a line of Scripture with each Hail Mary, pertinent to the particular mystery. Audio rosaries will keep it fresh with all kinds of voices, accents, background music (or no music), paces, meditations (long or short). There’s an endless supply of these on YouTube, which — for the visually inclined — also include artwork, photos and videos to keep you engaged. Praying the rosary with others (try a rosary walk!) guarantees more focus and less distractions.

A second “rosary problem” might be general antsyness. These people have a hard time sitting still, getting quiet, especially in the middle of a busy day. If this is the case, I wouldn’t doubt if this restlessness or this necessary-rat-race-hyped-up-ness plagues their prayer life in general. If the rosary seems like an absolute inert drudgery, it’s perfectly OK to move, to multitask. Walk, jog, run, workout while you pray it. Pray it while driving or doing housework/yard work/artwork/hobbies/chores. Pray it at the end of the day when phones have stopped pinging and there are no more pressing tasks or errands. Did you fall asleep at the Finding of the Boy Jesus in the Temple? No problem! Before you begin every rosary, ask your guardian angel to finish it for you if you fall asleep (or get irredeemably interrupted.)

Third: We might simply just have an unnameable distaste for the rosary. “I can’t get into it.” “It’s last on my list of favourite prayers.” OK, but, maybe we should be careful with that. Vegetables might be our least favourite food, but they are really, really good for us.

Since Our Lady herself gave the rosary to St. Dominic 1,000 years ago, it has been an indispensable go-to for devout Catholics. Start by holding the rosary in your hand. It’s like holding the Blessed Mother’s hand. Keep a blessed rosary on you at all times. If a full rosary is too bulky, get a rosary ring, rosary bracelet or other 10-decade rosary (available in manly “military grade” paracord).

Find times and ways of saying the rosary that will motivate you to do it. And do remember that Satan hates, I mean hates, the rosary, so he may be the one trying to turn you off on it. As our parents so often wisely counseled us: “Sometimes we have to do things in life that we don’t like.” If nothing else, say it as a penance!

The following powerful quotes should be enough to give us a firm resolve to commit to the daily rosary (and what better month to start than October, the month of the Most Holy Rosary)?

“The battering ram has always been the rosary” (Our Lady to St. Dominic).
“I don’t feel strong enough to give even an exhortation without the rosary” (Blessed Fr. James Alberione).
“The rosary is the best therapy” (Fulton Sheen).
“There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that cannot be resolved by the rosary” (Fatima’s Sr. Lucia).
“The rosary is the weapon for these times” (Padre Pio).
“Where the rosary is recited, there will be … peace and tranquillity” (Don Bosco).

Why do I no longer struggle (but absolutely enjoy) the rosary now? Many years ago, I asked Our Lady to give me a love for her rosary … and she did. Maybe she’ll do the same for you!

(Sr. Helena, fsp, is a Daughter of St. Paul. She holds a Masters in Media Literacy Education and studied screenwriting at UCLA. www.HellBurns.com  Twitter: @srhelenaburns)

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