Saturday, 25 August 2012

The rosary and I

A Navy SEAL (possibly previously involved in an operation closely watched by the POTUS himself) abseils from the ceiling of a small church, neutralizes and removes an old lady praying the rosary and disappears as quickly as she appeared. As commander of the unit, I judge the operation a success: mass is no time to pray the rosary. But, I am daydreaming ...

What I wanted to talk about this time is why I do pray the rosary (and instead of a [possibly reasonably] well researched piece, I'd just like to share my personal experience, on a topic well worth returning to later, with more time to spend). The rosary is my favorite prayer as it is so versatile - you can use it as a basis for reflection, repeating its words almost mechanically (along the lines of Buddhist and Hindu mantras) and leaving your mind open to listening to the Holy Spirit; you can actually meditate on its words, which take you through the incarnation to contemplating the completion of our earthly journey and which do so focusing on Jesus through the optics of Mary; you can also use it as a way to work your way through the becoming flesh, teaching, suffering and resurrection of Jesus; you can also just employ it as a way to keep your mind from getting caught up in negative and harmful thoughts or an excess of self-pity; you can also use it to give thanks for the gifts of friendship, love and providence that can be recognized in our daily lives. And this is just the beginning!

The rosary has for me also been an act of uncontrollable resistance in the face of the oppressive regime I grew up in. On my way to school I would be praying it on the bus, where any outward sign of religiosity would be illegal and risk reprisal. Silently I was turned towards Jesus while Big Brother was watching and I knew, that unlike Winston Smith, he would never win my love. Years later, I would pray it on my way to university in an environment steeped in consumerism, and here too the rosary spread its mantle around me and allowed me to relate to my neighbors for what they were and not what they had.

I apologize if this sounds exaggerated, but the rosary has played an important part in my life - and it still does. It is the basis for not getting sucked into the ever-changing whirlpools that come in my way and for keeping my eyes on what matters: to love my friends and Jesus did and to aim to make everyone a friend of mine.

It would be grossly misleading to leave even this personal confession of rosary praying without pointing briefly to what prayer is an here there is none better that Fr. Pasquale Foresi, who said:-
Prayer does not consist in dedicating time during the day to meditation, or to reading some passages from Scripture or from the writings of the saints, or in thinking of God or our ourselves with the aim of some internal reform. This isn't prayer in its essence.

Reciting the rosary or morning or evening prayers is just the same. One can do these things all day without ever having prayed even for a minute.

Prayer, to be truly such, requires above all a relationship with Jesus: to go with the spirit beyond our human condition, our worries, our prayers - no matter how nice and necessary they may be, and establishing this intimate, personal relationship with him.

Elsewhere he even says: you can pray even when you are saying prayers :). Essentially the rosary is an excuse, a basis for trying to orient myself towards Jesus and as such I am a great fan of it.

First, thanks to my dad for suggesting this topic :) and second, if you have any experience of prayer - or something else related to it - that you’d like to share, feel free to leave a comment. :)

UPDATE: For a great rosary joke, see this video by Jesuit Fr. James Martin :) - the whole “Forty Days of Funny” series is excellent …