During this month of the Rosary, many of us are trying to recommit ourselves to praying the Rosary more frequently, perhaps daily. But while the Rosary is always a powerful prayer, it isn’t necessarily an engaging one—not for everyone, anyway. People pray differently, and the same words that might elevate some to the heights of mystical prayer leave others bored, distracted, or asleep, at least until we manage to make the Rosary a true meditation.
Mercifully, the Rosary is a framework for prayer, a devotion that leaves much room for interpretation. There are scriptural Rosaries and musical Rosaries, Rosaries illuminated by artwork or by the words of the saints. Those of us who find the words of the Hail Mary to be more soporific than inspiring can look to resources that add meditations to each angelic salutation; others may find their prayer more fruitful when accompanied by music or sacred art.
Many books, videos, apps, and albums are available for people who are seeking to get more out of the Rosary—or, perhaps, to put more in. As October winds to a close, consider investing in one of these resources to rejuvenate your prayer:
The Complete Illuminated Rosary is a truly stunning book that contains a sacred image for each Hail Mary, capturing the imagination of those who are more visually oriented. It’s hard to be distracted when your eyes rest on some dozen different images of the mystery you’re trying to meditate on.
Behold Thy Mother is a Latin and English scriptural Rosary with a Scripture passage for each prayer and a reflection by a saint on each mystery. It’s a beautiful book with wisdom from the saints and the Word of God.
The Rosary Center and Confraternity offers a booklet with a one-sentence meditation before each Hail Mary, each one different, to help you remain focused on the mystery: Praying the Rosary without Distractions. A preview of the texts can be found on their website, though praying with a book is always preferable to praying on a device, if at all possible.
The Pray the Rosary booklet is another easily portable Rosary aid—mine is always in my purse, giving me something far more fruitful to do when waiting in line than just scrolling social media. This little book has an option for a scriptural Rosary and another for a short meditation inserted into each Hail Mary (“… blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, who opened the gates of heaven. Holy Mary …” for example, for the Ascension).
There are many Rosary apps available for Apple or Android, but the RosaryPlusRD app is a particularly lovely one, containing Scripture and sacred art as well as several other Catholic prayers, such as the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the St. Michael Chaplet.
It can be helpful just to have someone to pray along with, and who better than Pope St. John Paul II? This Rosary was recorded in the early 90s, before the addition of the Luminous Mysteries, but the Holy Father’s voice was still strong and those of us who were inspired by him during his life will feel the same thrill at hearing his voice praying the Rosary in Latin that we heard when he spoke directly to us so many years ago.
The richness of Catholic tradition offers us wisdom from the saints as well as Scripture, and Summa Enterprises has sought to merge that with the Rosary. Each of their Rosary albums focuses on the wisdom of one particular saint, reading relevant quotations before each prayer from such saints as St. Catherine of Siena or St. Padre Pio.
Instead of just listening to a recording of people praying the Rosary, you might find it helpful to listen to music. Danielle Rose’s Mysteries Albumprovides a beautiful meditation on each mystery, often from an unexpected perspective. The crown of thorns sings mournfully of its desire to be the king’s most precious rose, for example, while the Crucifixion sounds like Mary’s lullaby to her divine Child. Of all the books and CDs that I’ve prayed the Rosary with, I think none have impacted me so powerfully as this album, whose music and theology have colored my prayer life for 15 years.
If your problem is more interruptions than distractions, consider buying one of the beautiful Rosary bracelets from Chews Life. Each bracelet is a full 5-decade Rosary, but the crucifix and Miraculous Medal are clipped on so you can pray half a decade in between turning on Curious George and having to settle a brawl between children—when you’re needed elsewhere, just put the little clip next to the bead where you were interrupted and start back up there the next time life allows. It may not be your contemplative ideal, but it will consecrate your day by making you turn to prayer every time you have a spare moment, and that’s a beautiful thing.
There are, of course, more ancient resources, along with new books, apps, and videos being produced each day. What are your favorite Rosary resources?