October is the month of the Rosary. Here's how to make it a bigger part of your family life.
“In due respect for the freedom of God’s children, the Church has proposed and continues to propose to the faithful certain practices of piety on which it places particular interest and insistence. Among these is saying the Rosary.” This October, called the “Rosary month,” we should keep in mind this invitation by Pope John Paul II, where he recalls what Pope Paul VI wrote in 1974: “There is no doubt that the Rosary to the Blessed Virgin should be considered as one of the best and most effective common prayers that the Christian family is invited to pray.”
The Rosary is a very simple prayer. Recall that it consists of meditating on the life of Jesus, with the Virgin Mary, by saying one Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, and one Glory Be to the Father. This is the kind of prayer that is appropriate for everyone, both big and small, and is especially suited for family prayer. What is a good way to introduce or re-introduce it into the family?
One decade takes less than 5 minutes
One thing that is surprising about the Rosary is that it’s so simple. It is neither extraordinary nor sensational, and it doesn’t take much to learn it. That’s why the Rosary is the most popular prayer for the poor and for children: far from being a rant of old sanctimoniousness, it is the continual and marvelous repetition of our love for God, through the Virgin Mary. In reciting the Rosary, repeating the same words over and over makes us realize that the value of the prayer is not in what we say. It is the Holy Spirit who prays through us. When we pray, we are not asked to say complicated or extraordinary things, we are simply asked to be there, be available and open for the Holy Spirit to act in us.
It is important to keep in mind that we do not recite the Rosary “because you’re supposed to” and as fast as possible to get it over with. That would be missing the point. Of course, it’s no use making the little ones say more prayers than they can handle. But the Rosary, like all prayers, require us to really stop—stop what we are doing to have a moment with God. Prayer implies silence and inner peace, where we truly consent to putting our worries and our overloaded time into God’s hands.
Fun ideas to keep it from getting too monotonous
Young children are delighted to get a rosary and learn to count the Hail Marys on the beads. It is easy to find inexpensive and resistant rosaries or rosary bracelets so that the children can keep them handy, like little Bernadette of Lourdes who, simple and uneducated as she was, learned to pray the Rosary by heart (and from her heart).
To keep it from becoming monotonous, you can vary the way you recite the Rosary as a family. For example, do it as a dialogue. The children will catch on very quickly and feel proud of themselves. Or do a short meditation on some passage from the Gospel before each decade. You can choose one Mystery for each day or one for the whole week. Another idea is to say an intention before each decade or before each Hail Mary.
There are many books, for all ages, to help us discover and meditate on the 15 Mysteries of the Rosary. They can be used before or during prayer time to guide the meditation at the beginning of each decade, for example. Illustrations in children’s Rosary books can help them imagine the scenes of the Gospel and focus their attention. A large picture of the Mystery of the Rosary to be meditated on that day can also be put in the prayer corner.
But, why should we pray to the Virgin Mary?
Why should we ask the Virgin Mary to pray for us instead of addressing God directly? Because she is the Mother of Christ, and our Mother. Because she announced and prefigured the Church. In her person, the Church beseeches our Father in heaven, implores his Son and submits to the Spirit invoked by her. In praying to the Virgin Mary, trusting her intervention for us is not adding an extra step between us and God. It means that we recognize, through the powerlessness of our faith, the omnipotence of the faith of the Church: willed by God as Spouse to his Son and which we dare to believe when we look to the Virgin Mary—the source of the Church, its model, and forerunner.