12 March 2014

+JMJ+

"Two or Three" Book Club, Meeting 92

Just when you thought that Michael Crichton's novel State of Fear and St. Louis de Montfort's Secret of the Rosary would have absolutely nothing in common . . . because, admit it, you did think that . . . and by "you," I mostly mean "I" . . . the ever-amazing "Two or Three" Book Club members proved us wrong by turning a discussion of the Ecology of Thought into a debate about which Catholic traditions we could probably afford to lose. And while it's true that "small-T traditions" like the rosary don't have the weight of "big-T Traditions" like the Assumption of Mary, the question remains of what it would mean for us if the "mystical rose tree" that is so abundant all over the Catholic ecosystem were to become endangered . . . or even to go extinct.  

Good and devout souls, who walk in the light of the Holy Spirit: I do not think that you will mind my giving you this little mystical rose tree which comes straight from Heaven and which is to be planted in the garden of your soul. It cannot possibly harm the sweet smelling flowers of your contemplations; for it is a heavenly tree and its scent is beautiful. It will not in the least interfere with your carefully planned flower beds; for, being itself all pure and well-ordered, it inclines all to order and purity. If it is carefully watered and properly attended to every day it will grow to such a marvelous height and its branches will have such a wide span that, far from hindering your other devotions, it will maintain and perfect them.

. . . this mystical rose tree is Jesus and Mary in life, death and eternity; its green leaves are the Joyous Mysteries, the thorns the Sorrowful ones and the flowers, the Glorious Mysteries of Jesus and Mary. The buds are the childhood of Jesus and Mary, and the open blooms show us both of them in their sufferings, and the full-blown roses symbolize Jesus and Mary in their triumph and glory.

The ecosystem model would make St. Louis de Montfort the "Johnny Appleseed" of the rosary. If you smile at that, you're a Catholic. For there are some other Christians who might classify the rosary as an invasive species doing great damage to the good and true ideas of Christianity. But as I recently learned, there are more than just a monolithic "Catholic" way and a monolithic "anti-Catholic" way to see the rosary . . .


Dedication


The main reason it has taken me so long to start this discussion is that . . . I'd already started somewhere else. =P That is, Sheila and I have already been discussing the rosary for the last couple of days. Our individual understandings of it are more different than I expected, which got me wondering if there actually isn't one way to see the rosary--at least not in the sense that there is one way to see the Mass.

It all started when I told her that the Luminous Mysteries make me sad because I don't pray them and feel feel a sense of separation from those who do. To me, it is as if the Mystical Body has been torn. With her permission, I quote from her reply:

. . . I just think some things are helpful for some, and not others. I thought the Luminous Mysteries were a dumb idea when I first heard of them, because they mess up the days-of-the-week thing and the 150 Hail Marys for the 150 Psalms. But if someone likes to pray them, how is that different from them choosing to pray the chaplet or the St. Joseph prayer or anything else I don't personally choose to do? They pray to the same God, and I feel in union with them in intention even if the details of our prayers are not the same.

When I told her how the Church in the Philippines reacted to the publication of Rosarium Virginis Mariae, she was a little surprised. And when she told me how the Church in the US took the news, I got another dose of the same culture shock I first had soon after moving to New Zealand, when I suddenly felt weird for publicly reading a book with Pope John Paul II's face on the front cover.

But her questions about the Luminous Mysteries seemed to be questions about the rosary itself. How is "the rosary" different from the Chaplet of Divine Mercy or even St. Joseph's rosary? And do the details of our personal devotions have to be the same? Now, I will never have much authority in the world, so take what I say as lightly as possible, but my understanding of the rosary has always been that it is indeed special and that its particulars do matter. And although this view was informed by my unique context, I daresay that it is also universal. 

Praying the rosary may not be an obligation or a mark of the Church, but it has become a more deeply rooted part of objective tradition than any other devotion you could name. There's a sense in which every Catholic can pray the rosary: priest or parishioner, religious or layman, man or woman, Trad or Lib, cradle or convert, from every country in the world . . . and even from many centuries. Without ever being mandated by a Pope (though John Paul II could have fooled me . . .) it has become a sign of Catholic unity--that is, a sign that we recognise ourselves as children of Mary. And inasmuch as it is handed down from generation to generation, it has also become a shared way of knowing Jesus and Mary that may be secondary only to reading the Scriptures.

In short, whether you think the rosary really was personally given by Mary to St. Dominic or organically developed from monastic traditions of prayer, you have to conclude that it is more than just one of many good devotions we can feel drawn to and order our lives with. Personally, I don't think the rosary could have managed a tenth of its enduring popularity if only "natural causes" were driving it. I believe it mirrors the Virgin Mother whom it honours, being highly favoured by God and blessed among all other devotions. And I agree with St. Louis de Montfort about what this should mean to us . . .

So please do not scorn this beautiful and heavenly tree, but plant it with your own hands in the garden of your soul, making the resolution to say your Rosary every day. By saying it daily and by doing good works you will be tending your tree, watering it, hoeing the earth around it.

Eventually you will see that this little seed which I have given you, and which seems so very small now, will grow into a tree so great that the birds of Heaven, i.e., predestinate and contemplative souls, will dwell in it and make their nests there. Its shade will shelter them from the scorching heat of the sun and its great height will keep them safe from the wild beasts on the ground. And best of all, they will feed upon the tree's fruit--which is none other than our adorable Jesus, to Whom be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. So be it.

According to the Introduction of my copy of The Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis believed the rosary was so important to the Christian life that he wanted it established in every parish where he preached. And he was tireless about it. To him, it was not just another good devotion, or even a really great devotion, but probably the last and strongest lifeline given to us by God.

And so he alludes to one of the Fifteen Promises attached to the rosary in his special dedication to sinners:

If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins "you shall receive a never fading crown of glory" (1 Peter 5:4). Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in Hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practise black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and save your soul, if--and mark well what I say--if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins.

As a devotee of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, I can't help but point out that those for whom daily recitation of the rosary is still too heavy a yoke, there is one last desperate way out . . . but I don't want to steal too much of the rosary's thunder right now. =P

During the last meeting, when I announced that The Secret of the Rosary would be our next book, I mentioned that I had just read St. Louis's Preparation for Total Consecration. What I didn't say was that it was a struggle for me to accept its more unabashedly Marian passages. I was surprised at how easily the Protestant objections to Mary sprang up in my mind, like border patrol officers determined to keep St. Louis's counsel out. It should really have been the other way around, you know? And maybe it now is, because I felt no urge to play advocatus diaboli with the paragraph I've just quoted and only vaguely realised that it might give non-Catholics conniption fits.


What do you think of the Dedication?

1) Which of St. Louis's four special dedications spoke to you the most?
2) If someone were to ask you what you get out of praying the rosary, what would you say?


Image Source: The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort

24 comments:

Brandon said...

(1) I liked what he said in the first dedication about the Rosary actually being a form of the imitation of Christ, but I think the picture of the rose tree, and the way the rosary expresses it, in the third dedication was most illuminating for me.

In fact, reading ahead a bit I like St. Louis's ways of showing how the triad of Mysteries corresponds to other important triads. It raises, from another angle, some of the questions about whether the Luminous Mysteries are a natural development or something that changes the very nature of the prayer itself.

(2) I wouldn't have much to say. In all honesty, I don't myself get much out of praying the rosary -- I can recognize the value of it through its role in other people's lives, but I have never found much of a corresponding role in myself. I get nothing at all out of it praying it with other people (although a lot of that might just be tempo -- I find public praying of the rosary always, always too fast for me); and while this isn't true of saying it privately, even there it just doesn't stand out in any way compared to other devotions. (Much the same is true of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.) I can see in the abstract and externally, as it were, the significance of it, but this doesn't translate into any personal or internal experience of what makes it so significant, or hasn't yet.

Brandon said...

I suppose another way to put it is that while I have a full sense of the rosary as a compendium of prayer being useful (for various things, I don't really have any sense of the rosary as such being inherently valuable. That it is the latter I can fully recognize as an abstract thing from the role it plays in the lives of others. But I have no sense of it myself.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

1) The rose tree and all the gardening imagery appeal to me, too. Having tried (and failed--Sigh!) to start a small garden of my own last year, I appreciate the parallels between cultivating a plot of land and tending to your spiritual life.

2) Although praying the rosary in a group is supposed to be better than praying it alone, I also prefer saying it on my own. (The first time I had to lead the rosary at school, my classmates told me my slowness was pure torture; and one time when I had to lead it at home, my mother turned around in the middle of the first decade and hissed at me to hurry up!)

Now I confess that the main reason I asked the second question was that I don't think my own answer would be very good at convincing anyone to start. I began praying the rosary as a private devotion (though not very consistently) during one night when I was feeling especially anguished by horrible stories in the news. I felt like there was nothing I could do for the people who had been hurt--and for other people who were being hurt even as I sat safely in my room. Finally, it occurred to me that if I prayed the rosary for them, at least they wouldn't be alone. And so I began . . .

But this doesn't make the rosary very different from, say, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. (In fact, when dying people are involved, it is the chaplet I say first.) I think I went for the rosary because I had just graduated from a Catholic school where I had prayed it (or pretended to pray it! =P) every school day for eight years. It wasn't the logical choice as much as it was the traditional choice.

Still, I think there's much to be said about objective tradition and of doing something because "everyone else" does or has done it. The private devotion which the greatest number already do is probably the one which also benefits the greatest number.

Brandon said...

I think there's a great deal to be said for that argument, too.

I've been skimming some of Leo XIII's encyclicals on the Rosary -- he was big on the devotion, and had something like ten different encyclicals on the Rosary over the twenty-five-year period of the papacy -- and in two of them, Octobri mense and Magnae Dei Matris, he makes something like this very argument. From Magnae Dei Matris, which is the most interesting of the ones I skimmed (and which argues a lot of things similar to what you argue in the post): "Therefore the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, combining in a convenient and practical form an unexcelled form of prayer, an instrument well adapted to preserve the faith and an illustrious example of perfect virtue, should be often in the hands of the true Christian and be devoutly recited and meditated upon." That's a very high recommendation from a man who knew what he was talking about.

Sheila said...

Okay, I wasn't going to do this. I don't want to be a wet blanket on the happy Rosary conversation. But it occurs to me that my questions might be fruitful to you, and perhaps even helpful to me, so here goes.

Can anyone give me a reason, besides the argument from authority, why the Rosary is so great? It's all very well to find saints and private revelations supporting it, but that doesn't get me any closer to an answer as to what is intrinsic about it that makes it better than other forms of prayer.

The Liturgy of the Hours is more ancient, easier to stay focused on (because the words aren't always the same), great for saying in a group, Biblical, and so forth. Why has the Rosary leapt to popularity instead?

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Brandon -- Leo XIII is really something else, isn't he? I stumbled upon Arcanum a while ago and was blown away! I'd love to read what he had to say about the rosary. =) But I also want to finish Rerum Novarum first.

Sheila -- That's all right! And you're actually anticipating my next readalong post! Believe it or not, I've started to wonder the same things. But since it might be a while before that post gets published, here's a quick answer . . .

If we're going to compare devotions, I think that the main reason the rosary is more popular than the Divine Office is simply that it's easier to say. (I recall reading that the rosary was developed especially for illiterate monks. If you can read, the Divine Office is the way to go; but if you can't, at least you can say Mary's Psalter.) A few months ago, I wanted to start praying the Divine Office myself, but had to put the dream on hold after learning how much I'd have to pay for the books! Rosaries are so much cheaper . . . and for those who can't even afford one, there's that joke that God gave us ten fingers for a reason! ;-P

The rosary is also simpler: children can, and often do, pick the prayers and the form up really quickly. And we want to be like little children, right? Catholics also tend to learn the rosary as children. The familiarity really helps, and isn't just a function of the rosary happening to be the big devotion one learned as a kid. I daresay it's the big devotion the majority of us learned as kids, therefore both a living tradition and a sign of unity.

Among the other natural causes of its popularity is the devotion to Mary. Again, this isn't actually necessary or an official mark of the Church, but She has been encouraging us to love our Mother for centuries. The Church has also approved apparitions in which Mary instructed us specifically to pray the rosary. It is also not required to believe in apparitions and private locutions, but when the same message is repeated over and over again, that's nothing to sneeze at. For the hardcore Marians, this is just a no-brainer.

Then there are the Fifteen Promises attached to the rosary. I mention them last because they move me the least, but they probably had a lot to do with the rosary gaining all this popularity.

Brandon said...

Sheila,

I wish I knew myself! But, speaking for what little I can tell myself, I don't think the comparison to the Divine Office is entirely fair to either -- they are very different kinds of things. The Liturgy of the Hours is the prayer of the Church itself, so in that sense it trumps all other kinds of prayer outside the Mass, including the Rosary. But I think it has been very difficult until recently for most Catholics even to have the resources to pray, say, Vespers consistently. (The Orthodox manage it pretty well, but that's because an immense amount of worship outside the Divine Liturgy is organized around monastic life, even for laity, so that laypeople would pray the Hours with monks who spend day in and out doing it, and even if they pray at home, it would almost always be with timetables, guidelines, etc., put out by monasteries. I don't think I've ever come across anything like that, at least on that level, among Catholics.) This has changed a bit with the internet, but I think it's been a big factor.

I think if we compare the Rosary to other private devotions, like the Angelus or Acts of Reparation or such, it has the advantage of being the most easily portable kind of prayer that can cover most of the major catechetical bases -- the Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the life of Christ.

Such is my thought, anyway; as I noted in a comment above, I can see the value of the Rosary as a useful compendium of prayer, but that's about where my own personal ability to grasp what value it might have ends. But I don't know what more there might be.

Sheila said...

Me, I find the Divine Office much, much easier to say! I can read, but I just canNOT say one thing (Hail Marys) while thinking about something else (mysteries). So most of us wind up thinking about a third thing, like what we want for dinner or how much our knees hurt. It seems to me only the very advanced at prayer could manage it. For those of us who can't walk and chew gum, praying out of a book is much easier.

I admit I don't say the Divine Office either, but my husband does. He does the Benedictine one, which is pretty simple. There are many forms of varying complexity for various purposes. There's even a Little Office of the Blessed Virgin -- the whole book for it is maybe 40 pages, and dirt cheap.

The way I was first taught to pray was to talk to God about my needs and his greatness, etc. It was some time later that I learned the rosary. And it seems to me that God couldn't help but be pleased with our honest, plain-spoken words. Do we need to have special promises connected to talking to God before we will try it? Or do we just want to talk to him because we like him and want to be like him?

Maybe my problem here is that I am thinking of prayer based on its visible effects. (It is hard to measure its invisible effects.) And it seems most of us will get more instruction from lectio divina, more intimacy with God from spontaneous prayer, and more emotional connection from singing. The rosary gets you .... so far as I can see .... the satisfaction of having done a lot of something. Saying it attentively could get you a little more, but it is ridiculously hard to pray the same brief prayer attentively 150 times, or meditate on the same scripture attentively every day of the year.

Do you think I'm taking prayer from entirely the wrong angle, by focusing on its detectable effects on myself? Because I don't really know what else to go on. Grace is rather undetectable, so we can't have a "grace-off" between our favorite prayers and see what gets us more. The Mass beats all anyway, so it seems disposing ourselves to receive the available grace should be our chief concern -- there is no lack of grace available if you are disposed to it, but most of us aren't so well disposed as we'd like.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

My own approach to prayer is to do what I feel drawn to. There are so many lovely prayer traditions in the Church, and there was a time when I gave every new thing I stumbled across a try; but none of them have had the magnetic power over me that the rosary does. That's really the only "reason" I pray it. The Fifteen Promises and everything else attached to it are just a bonus. But you were asking for intrinsic value, so I came up with what I could.

If you really don't feel drawn to the rosary yourself, I personally don't think that's a big deal. But one mistake I do think you're making is comparing the rosary to other devotions or prayers just so you can point out how it falls short. We don't have a case of "either-or" when it comes to the rosary and the Divine Office, the rosary and spontaneous prayer, the rosary and lectio divina, or the rosary and singing--or all these prayers in any other combination. (Well, no "either-or" except when it comes to choosing what to do with your time: sadly, we can't do everything!)

Sheila said...

Well, that's what I mean: I only have so much prayer time. Since the rosary feels like a wearisome slog up an unending mountain, with no particular reward, I can't see spending my prayer time on it. But you should hear the objections I hear to this: that giving up on saying the rosary is What the Devil Wants, that I would have the time if I only Cared Enough, that if I Loved Mary I Would Love the Rosary, etc.

When I was about 13 I loved, loved, loved the rosary. No one had ever forced me to say it in my life, and the sorrowful mysteries made me cry (in a good way) every time. It's kind of too bad I don't feel that way about it anymore, especially when I blunder into a group of Catholics I don't know and everyone's first idea is to say the rosary. My in-laws force me to say it daily when I visit, and on my knees too -- and no chance of getting out of your turn leading. Yikes! The connection between the rosary and force/obligation just makes it harder to want to say it.

In the end, I decided that God would want me to pray to him willingly rather than in any particular words, and so I sing hymns, make up stuff, and read the Bible. So Protestant of me. But it beats not praying at all, which is my main temptation.

If you happen to already like something that has a long tradition and which almost all active Catholics know how to say and will be willing to say with you ..... well, lucky you. :)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

Oh, man! I wouldn't want to be you at your in-laws. ;-)

I think other people's unfortunate reactions to you have the same root as my reaction to those who pray the Luminous Mysteries: we sense it as a breach and it makes us incredibly sad. But these subjective emotions get all mixed up with objective tradition, and I'm not surprised (though I am sorry) that people have interpreted your feelings about the rosary in the worst light.

It's also worth noting that there may always be some sort of social pressure tied up with the rosary. I'm not sure why so many of us think that it is better to say in a group than individually, but it's definitely something in the collective memory. (Having tried to look it up, I was reminded of the plenary indulgence for saying the rosary in a group; but I really don't think that's the first thing on people's minds when they form their own groups of, you know, "two or three." =P)

Sheila said...

I sometimes say it in a group because that is the only way I am capable of saying it at all ..... I simply cannot keep track of the beads on my own.

When I attempt to say the rosary now, my mind goes totally blank. I am not sure I get through a single Hail Mary .... all I know is, I eventually look down at my hands and find myself on the same bead, and have no idea what I've been thinking of or how long it's been. It's rather frightening and disorienting .... and that, at least, I don't get so much if other people are with me to keep track.

After years of this, I discovered that this is the method and goal of transcendental meditation -- to say a mantra over and over again until you reach a state of complete nothingness or emptiness. It's very bad for your brain and generally agreed to be spiritually dangerous as well. I don't know why this happens to me when I pray the rosary, and not to other people. Probably something to do with having been forced to say it, and say it as fast as possible, for so many years. But I really am serious when I tell people, it's best if I stick with other things.

Maybe after a few years completely off saying the rosary, that association or habit will wear off and I'll be able to pray it again. I'll be honest, though, I am kind of scared to try.

My in-laws weren't bad compared with the time I stayed with a traditionalist family for a week in Lent. They said the rosary FOUR TIMES every day, plus did the canonical fast each day! I skipped a lot of rosaries, and snuck food, but there was a lot of guilt tied up with that because the family saw me as weak and irreligious for not being able to keep up with them. Yikes!

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

The traditionalist movement breaks my heart. How did the valuing of some truly beautiful things turn into something so ugly? I think I really called it when I compared this movement to wilderness conservation back when we were discussing State of Fear. It's impossible to preserve a backyard by leaving it alone, so why do we think we can manage thousands of acres in a national park? Traditionalists seem to have exactly this hubris and it's toxic.

Brandon said...

Whenever I have to deal with people like that I'm reminded of some of the Holy Fools, like St. Simeon Salus who rushed into church, blew out all the votive candles and started throwing nuts at people. One can entirely understand why he kept getting chased and beaten for it -- but it's still the case that he was the saint and the people who tried to discipline him for things like that were hardly fit to tie his shoes. One of the clear problems with a lot of modern traditionalism is that it has no room -- not just little room, which would be understandable, but no room -- for a saint like Simeon.

I think if we follow the conservation analogy, a lot of traditionalists get caught up in the aesthetics, and never go beyond them. Dolphin-safe fishing was a huge deal in the eighties or so; a lot of people got on the bandwagon, because who wants dolphins to die as byproducts of getting tuna sandwiches? Marine biologists, though, hate, hate, hate dolphin-safe fishing, because dolphins are pretty much the only thing dolphin-safe fishing is safe for -- it increases the numbers of turtles, sharks, etc., who die in the nets! Saving dolphins is in itself still an admirable thing; but if you only see the fun and pretty dolphins, that's a seriously dangerous blindness. And, of course, that's just the sort of problem you could avoid if you thought it through; it doesn't even get into the problems you can't see at all.

Sheila said...

My in-laws are traditionalist as well, but of a much more reasonable stripe, thank goodness. Me, I prefer to attend the Mass the Church has given me to go to. (It helps that I was raised in it.) You can't keep all the treasures of the Church in amber; if they can't grow, they decay. The theologians can argue about whether or not the liturgy is growing in the right direction, but I'm no theologian and I just go to church. No need to be complicated about it. ;)

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

A few years ago, I came to realise that my personal reactions to tweaks in the liturgy stemmed from a great deal of pride. I'm currently a big believer in blooming in the parish you were planted in, but that's not saying much when I'm also currently in a fairly conservative parish!

Before this, I was part of a parish that incorporated children's liturgical dance into the Mass, among other craziness. I don't think I can fully explain how awful those Masses were--or how deeply I felt the dissonance between what was going on around me and what I thought was the bare minimum of reverence. Yet the memories are so fresh that I wouldn't fault a person for driving an hour to another parish where he can worship in peace. I pray that he doesn't drive all the way to a traditionalist community or to one that is in schism, but I understand why the temptation would be so great.

Sheila said...

I don't like our new English translation we got two years ago; I think it jars and it's just frustrating to always be second-guessing myself, all Mass long, because my from-the-cradle instinct is to say "and also with you" and now I have to say "and with your spirit." Just messes me up! So I can understand how hard it must have been to deal with a whole new Mass when that came out.

And worse, there were some years of madness where the rule seemed to be "anything goes" -- but thank goodness, that seems to be dying out now. I don't blame anyone for not wanting to suffer through it, but I think the sacrifice of those who DID suffer through it without abandoning the Church is what has paid off in it finally getting better now. It was a matter of enduring the turmoil without losing a vision of what the liturgy was supposed to be like.

I would probably drive further to avoid a "crazy" Mass. The loud rock Masses are the worst; prayer is virtually impossible in that environment. But the average Novus Ordo, with some slip-ups, some bad music, some crying babies and some dropped hymnbooks ..... that's life. We're not in heaven yet, and there will always be things we don't like. And I think it's a mark of humility to say, "Well, God, this Mass isn't perfect. Neither am I. But here we are!"

love the girls said...

--
I like crying babies and dropped books at Mass, and I wish there was more of it along with more quiet chatter of children.

And I wish it for the same reason that four rosaries a day is silly, and thankfully, something I had never heard of before.

Four rosaries a day reminds me of family I used to see before I was married at various all night adorations, used to look at them and wonder if they were driving their children away from the Faith more than they were habituating them into the Faith.

I want my children to say a few prayers well, the last time we said a family rosary was several years ago, which is likewise the last time I said one.

Sheila said...

The rosary is a LOT for small children to say. But sometimes my 3-year-old will snuggle up to my husband and listen while he says compline. I never think he gets anything from it, but then later I hear him saying to himself, "God come to my assistance, Lord make haste to help me!" Well, okay! The difficult stuff can be when he understands why and chooses to do it.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

My family has a tradition of praying the rosary together every October. Everyone joins in, from the smallest children in the family to the live-in household help. These were my first memories of praying the rosary and likely the reason why I think it's for "everyone."

I really don't know what kind of tortured form the family rosary takes in American households, but the sense I always got was that if you couldn't be absolutely attentive the whole while, that was okay, because somebody else would be prayerful for you. And maybe next time, that person wouldn't be fully recollected, and you could take up the slack. The only other prayer I get this sense of communion and oneness from is the Mass, and I think that it's very Catholic to understand prayer as the work of a unified body. This is why I would encourage families to have the rosary in their lives. Of course, I'd also hope that they wouldn't be rigid about it. But every family has its own style . . .

Sheila said...

When there are two grownups and two toddlers, there's no one left to pay attention!

My friend's mother told me, though, that when her kids were little and wouldn't sit through a rosary, she would just put them to bed, but say that if they were quiet, she'd leave the doors open. Then she and her husband would kneel in the hall and pray the rosary where the kids could listen as it lulled them to sleep. I thought that was beautiful.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

I think it's beautiful, too. =)

Melanie Bettinelli said...

Coming in late to the conversation, but you don't mind that, right E.? I kind of wish I hadn't already selected a big pile of Lenten reading because this is one of those books I feel like I should have read. And I'm kind of in the same camp as Sheila, though not quite as negative in my experiences of the rosary, I'm most definitely not drawn to it most of the time.

I've had a few brief periods where I tried to pray it. I think the most successful was when I was taking daily walks when pregnant with Bella and later after she was born but when she was small enough to just sleep on our walks. I'd go round and round the park and pray as I went. And for me that worked much better than trying to pray while kneeling quietly. I think my feet moving really helped my mind to focus and the rhythm of my walking fit the rhythm of the prayers. It just worked and I had some really wonderful experiences, powerful meditations on the mysteries.

But mostly I just find the rosary a chore, which makes me kind of sad because I do love Mary and want to make her happy. But I find myself very powerfully drawn to the Divine Office. And having only so much time in the day, I almost always choose to use it praying the LOTH instead of the rosary because it seems so much more fruitful a devotion for me.

But the Hail Mary is my go to prayer for when someone asks me to pray for them. I like the idea of turning those requests over to my mother who is much better able to remember to keep track of them than I am.

I've encountered the sort of Catholics who make you feel like you're not really a good Catholic if you don't pray the rosary eery day and they always make me feel very defensive. Which over time has given me this very combative attitude toward the rosary. I'd like to get over it and the past few years I've toyed with the idea of trying to pray at least a decade a day for the month of October or during May. But I'm really not very good at remembering and I usually fail in the first week.

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

I don't mind late comments at all, Melanie! =)

Unfortunately, I think there will always be a lot of pressure on Catholics from other Catholics to say the rosary. One October in my old village, which marked the month with nightly processions, I had a (non-Catholic) friend over at my house and so decided to skip the night. My grandmother was really upset about that and made a bit of a scene in front of my friend. =S

But I think I've been really lucky in that I don't feel a distaste for any traditions or devotions. On the other hand, my zeal for them may have just contributed to other people's distaste! =(

For full disclosure: I had been pretty remiss in my rosary "habit" (a word I use very loosely) before I started this readalong--and my commitment to it has waxed and waned like the moon over at least a decade. There are times when the tide is high and I can pray one full rosary a day, with great recollection. And there are times when I feel uninspired and just don't want to be bothered. Apparently, it's a kind of luxury that I don't beat myself up over this . . . though there was that time I confessed that I spent over two hours lying awake in bed because I didn't want to start my bedtime rosary but didn't want to go to sleep without having said it, either. =P I think Father thought I was nuts!

Mrs. Darwin has also mentioned having difficulty with the rosary--and she reminded me that so did St. Therese! As I've written to Sheila in this combox, I think it's consoling to think of the rosary as a prayer we say in communion with each other, even when we're praying it alone. (For we're never praying it alone, are we? Not when everyone knows that the Joyful Mysteries are said on Monday, the Sorrowful Mysteries on Tuesday, etc.) So during the times when we don't get to pray it--or perhaps, don't even want to pray it--we can think of everyone else who is taking the slack up for us. And then when the tide is high for us again, we can also be mindful that we are taking the slack up for others.