October is the month of the Holy Rosary -- and we can all use the graces that come from this traditional prayer to the Virgin Mary.
This October, as worries abound related to the pandemic, the upcoming election, raging fires in both forests and streets, and surreal social changes, we are blessed to have a gift from heaven that is a literal life-saver — the Rosary.
Do we desire peace in our hearts; in our homes and in our country? If so, then let us heed the wise advice of Pope Pius XI:“The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin … If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.”
We have the answer to everything that causes us pain and anxiety, and it is literally in our own hands. It is the rosary beads we clutch, as though we hold our mother Mary’s hands, and when we do not have the beads, we can count off the prayers on our 10 fingers, praying that our hands will always be used to do God’s work.
So let’s join together this October, this month of the Most Holy Rosary and not let one day go by without a Rosary said for peace in our hearts, our homes, and our country. Here are 12 ways to honor the Rosary and rely on it as a way to save the world and our own lives, too.
1Commit to praying the Rosary every day for the month of October
If you don’t already, why not start praying the Rosary every day? It’s a great way to celebrate the month of the Rosary and if you do it daily, you will see a noticeable difference in your life that might make you want to keep doing it. If you don’t think you have time, start with a decade or a few decades. Don’t let the worry that you’re not praying it perfectly stop you. If you fall asleep mid-decade, think of that as silent prayer.
2Start praying the family Rosary
Fr. Patrick Peyton said that “the family that prays together, stays together.” Start saying a family Rosary, or even just a decade together. Use your time set aside for the family Rosary as a chance to tell each other what you’d like to pray for, and share any concerns for which you’d like each other’s support. Let each person share an intention they’d like the whole family to pray for. Live alone? Find a Rosary buddy and schedule video or phone prayer sessions.
3Pray the Rosary with an online prayer companion
There are various online prayer companions that assist in keeping our focus during the Rosary. Here’s a great YouTube Rosary Channel “Catholic Masterpieces” that surrounds you with the beauty of gentle music, glorious art, and moving reflections. There’s a companion for the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous Mysteries and each will recharge your experience of prayer.
4Surround yourself with art and music that honors Mary
Whether it’s Marian Gregorian chant, Bach’s Magnificat, or Pavarotti’s Ave Maria, fill your home with the beautiful sounds of homage to our Heavenly Mother. If you can play an instrument, you might try your hand at playing anything from “On This Day, O Beautiful Mother” to “Gentle Woman.” Also, why not contemplate a Marian masterpiece? Religious art isn’t just for church. Search for classic works of art featuring Our Lady and find a favorite; then get a print for your home. Da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli … the possibilities for beautiful images are plentiful. Want to see a great image of Our Lady of the Rosary? Do a search for “Our Lady of the Rosary,” 1840, by Tommaso Minardi; “Our Lady of the Rosary” by Carlo Ceresa (1609-1679); or the stunning “Our Lady of the Rosary” attributed to García de Bouzas fromSantiago de Compostela, Spain.
5Add Rosary-inspired prayers at special moments
Add a Hail Mary after grace before meals. Or add a less well-known Rosary-associated prayer before you eat. such as the “Hail Holy Queen,” the “Fatima Prayer” or “Apostle’s Creed.” Note that this could be a special month to read more about and consider doing a consecration to Mary. A favorite version of it today is Fr. Michael Gaitley’s 33 Days to Morning Glory.
6Read a book that deepens your excitement about the Rosary
Here are some suggestions: The Secret of the Rosary is a timeless classic guaranteed to make you more devoted to the Rosary. Sacred Braille: The Rosary as Masterpiece is a recent book lauded as “destined to become a classic” that will take away any temptation to think of the Rosary as monotonous and replace that with a renewed zeal and love for the Rosary, through art, poetry, reflections, and even a self-guided retreat.
7Design and plant a Rosary garden
It’s still gardening season in October (think colorful mums and Gerbera daisies), but you can begin planning this any time of year!What a wonderful and prayerful activity this could be for a whole family; or a deeply meditative task for you to undertake alone.Why not walk the mysteries of the Rosary in your own backyard, using special flowers, plants, and statues to assist in prayer? Here are a few ideas.
A Rosary garden could have a statue of Mary as a focal point. 10 stepping stones placed in a pattern could serve as markers for a decade of the Rosary. If spaced closely together, they could provide a visual aid for prayer; if spaced further apart one could step on each one while traveling the decade in prayer. Plan what flowers you’ll add over the year. Flowers chosen in tribute could include roses, and any flower that traditionally evokes Mary, such as marigolds (Mary’s Gold). Depending on the size of the garden you could have four areas: the joyful, sorrowful, glorious and luminous. A joyful mystery garden could include embellishments such as a garden angel evoking the Annunciation. A sorrowful mystery garden could include a bench on which to sit and spend prayerful time with Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. A glorious mystery garden could include bright celebratory colors to remind of the Resurrection’s triumph. A luminous mystery garden could be composed of flowers only in yellow and white tones, to remind of light. You could even include scallop shells as a border accent, to remind you of St. John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in the River Jordan. Let your creativity and prayers be your guide!
8Set your dining table, mantel, or other prominent area in your home with an Our Lady of the Rosary altar
Get a blue table cloth or runner to evoke Mary, or white to evoke her purity, and adorn with a statue or picture of Our Lady and a bouquet of flowers you freshen all month and/or a candle (and there are many safe battery-operated candles these days!) to light at night. Since it is the month of the Rosary, include a rosary prominently in your display.
9Cook for the Queen
Make a special Marian-themed dinner. Here are some easy ideas: Since rosemary is the herb associated with Mary, you might try a dinner of rosemary chicken, and for dessert make a rosary or decade out of candies, small cookies or miniature cupcakes decorated with confectionery roses or edible flower petals on the top, or blue or white icing. Or make a Bundt cake, which is naturally molded in the shape of a crown and can help recall Mary’s queenship. Decorate it colorfully.
10Devote Saturdays to Mary's honor
Saturday is the day our Church sets aside for Our Blessed Mother. Make a visit to a church that has a Marian chapel or statue and ask for Mary’s intercession. It’s a great day to focus on her and let her prepare you for receiving her Son in the Eucharist, either at the Saturday Vigil or on Sunday. Consider going to Saturday Confession as part of that preparation. The Feast of Our Lady of Fatima is October 13, and one way to honor it is to remember Our Lady of Fatima’s request for First Saturdays. Here’s how to do the First Saturdays devotion.
11Practice special acts of charity
Choose one of the noted feast days in October — for example Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7), any Saturday (since all Saturdays are devoted to Mary and the entire month honors her it will be a double Marian celebration!), or the feast of Pope St. John Paul II on October 22 (the late pontiff was famously devoted to the Rosary) — and do a special act of charity for someone in need. Offer it up to Mary’s Immaculate heart.
12Find ways to share the Rosary with others
Perhaps you can give rosary beads to a friend going through a challenging time or bring a few rosaries to the local hospital or nursing home for any patients who might benefit from them. Perhaps you can join a group at church such as your parish Rosary Society and try the beautiful act of praying the Rosary with others. Maybe you could even start your own group, or ask a family member or friend to join you once a month, on First Fridays or First Saturdays, for example, as a time to pray for each other and share time with Mary. If you are able to commit to praying the complete Rosary weekly, join the Rosary Confraternity and join your prayers to the prayers of all members, creating a beautiful bond of support and mutual prayer linking you to other members worldwide.
Why it takes me (and my kids) a full school week to pray one Rosary