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How to learn to love the Rosary (even if you hate it)

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Don't feel guilty if you think it's boring, but do give it another chance.

Katrina,

I feel like the worst Catholic ever admitting this, but I hate the Rosary. The Rosary is supposed to be the quintessential Catholic prayer and I find it just the absolute worst. It’s so long, boring, and repetitive. I feel like I can’t be the only one who feels this way about the Rosary. I know as a husband I should be setting the example at home, especially if I want my kids to pray the Rosary, so I’ve been trying to force myself to love it. It hasn’t been working out for me. I thought I’d see what kind of advice you can give me on gaining a better appreciation of the Rosary.

Mark

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Dear Mark,

You’re not the worst Catholic ever, trust me. A worse Catholic wouldn’t care one way or the other about the Rosary, let alone persevere in trying to appreciate it for the sake of his children.  

Yes, the Rosary is quintessentially Catholic but that doesn’t mean you’re going to love the devotion by default of your Catholicism, anymore than you’d love haggis simply because you’re Scottish. I can’t make you love haggis or the Rosary, but what I can do is offer some advice that may help you gain a greater appreciation of the Rosary (and this appreciation could over time develop into a respect for the devotion, and later love).

Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Pope John Paul II’s 2002 letter on the Rosary, could be a good place to start.

I can also make some practical suggestions on how to deal with the length and “boring repetitive” nature of the Rosary.

Simply, praying the Rosary is akin to praying the New Testament. It’s a meditation on the entire life of Christ. That why it’s considered one of the most powerful prayers. I’ve heard it described as a chain, a life line, that links heaven to earth. One end is in our hands and the other end is in Mary’s. I’ve also heard it referred to as the greatest weapon of the Church.

The best way to develop an appreciation for a thing is to learn as much as you can about it. So my first recommendation is for you to learn more about the devotion — where it came from, how it’s evolved over the centuries, its role in history, its Scriptural meanings, and the virtues to be fostered through it.

It can typically take anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes to pray the Rosary. It takes quite a disciplined mind to spend that many minutes in contemplative prayer. Even the best of us struggle staying focused while praying the Rosary. That’s just a fact. You can accept that fact or let it frustrate you as a perceived failure.

Instead of trying to run a triathlon, just settle for a quick sprint around the block — meaning, pray a decade here and another decade there. Do what you can. I pray two decades on my way to work and two decades on my way home, saving the last decade to pray with my son in the evening.

Find what works with your schedule and save that last decade for your own family. If you get bored, try an audio version of the Rosary or pray along using an app on your phone. If you’re a visual person, find a Rosary booklet with pictures for each decade’s mystery. So-called scriptural rosaries have a Bible verse to say after each Hail Mary.

Try any one of these different ways to pray the Rosary, or try them all. Find one that works for you, then when/if you get bored with that method try another.

Whatever you decide, just keep praying. Even if that prayer is imperfect or absent-minded, just keep praying.  It’ll come.


Find more on the Rosary here at Aleteia:

Devil admits to exorcist: “I’m afraid of the Madonna”

4 Reasons to say the Rosary every day: The Fatima connection

The saint who died rather than give up his rosary

How I pray the Rosary with my friends (the saints)

And the contrasting perspectives offered here:

Confessions of a Family Rosary Dropout

John Paul II and protective power of the family rosary

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