People don’t know what to think about in prayer or whom to pray to. The Rosary answers all this and more.
“The Rosary is an impoverished prayer? What then would be a ‘rich prayer’? The Rosary is a procession of Paters, the prayer taught by Jesus; of Aves, the salutation of God to the Virgin by means of the Angel; of Glorias, the praise of the Most Holy Trinity.” – Pope John Paul I
I have a cousin who often traveled with her husband and mother. On such occasions the three would share a hotel room. It was economical, and no one really minded. However, confined to close quarters, at various times during the night, my cousin and her husband couldn’t help but hear my aunt moving around her rosary beads. At the late hour, my aunt’s rustling of her rosary was as beautiful a sound as it was obnoxious. My cousin’s husband, in love and annoyance, today still cheerfully laments my Aunt Cora “clacking her beads.”
How loud is an elderly woman’s rustling of a rosary? In Times Square you’d never hear it. Yet, God always hears “the clack of the beads.” For our heavenly Father, the sound of the beads pierces the din of the world. Heaven always notices the beads; even more intently than my cousin and her husband!
God always hears “the clack of the beads.” For our heavenly Father, the sound of the beads pierces the din of the world.
Why is the Rosary so loud? How does this prayer echo so profoundly? The Rosary is a way of putting on another perspective. It’s a taking on of someone else’s voice. Romano Guardini puts it this way, saying the Rosary is “participation in the life of Mary, whose focus was Christ.” When we pray the Rosary, our prayers are joined with Mary’s. Our voice is strengthened by the graces of her life, and amplified by her maternal care.
But clacking the beads is tiresome work. We can be worn down by it. If we don’t take care to renew our devotion to it, it can fade. Over-familiarity with the Rosary can lead to us not listening to the voice we’re praying with. Pope Leo XIII reminds the Church, “A person praying must be the agent who actively enters into the mysteries, and not simply one before whom the celebration unfolds.” If we stop thinking about the mysteries and simply recite the prescribed prayers without devotion or meditation, we’re muting the voice of the prayer.
Today, there’s less a crisis of the Rosary, and more certainly a greater crisis of prayer in general. People are unfamiliar with how to raise their voice to heaven. They don’t know what to say or what to ask for. They don’t know what to think about in prayer or whom to pray to. The Rosary answers all this and more. By joining our voice to the Virgin’s, we take the words of Jesus, Mary, and the Church as our own. By meditating upon the mysteries, we begin to train our minds to think of the things of heaven. After all, the mysteries of redemption are the greatest realities we can know. By the outpouring of divine grace, they become more real to us than the things we see, touch, or taste.
By contemplating the mysteries, we call to mind the greatest events of human history—the moments when God entered the world and restored true life—and adopt them as our own. They become then, not historical or abstract considerations, but our own personal contact with saving Truth. Each mystery has something to say to our lives, here and now. Each clacking bead is the chance to praise God for the triumphs of salvation history and to unite personal suffering with Christ’s own transformative suffering of the cross.
This October, Aleteia is going to present a daily Rosary meditation: one mystery a day, through the next four weeks. Each day will offer the chance to take one mystery and unite its own precious melody to the tune of our own prayer. If you’re apprehensive about praying the entire Rosary each day, simply read our meditation and pray one decade (an Our Father, ten Hail Marys, and one Glory Be). Join us in together reflecting on the mysteries.
Don’t let your rosary just hang from your rear-view mirror or rest on display on a shelf or nightstand. Pick it up. Think of divine things. Clack the beads.