In honor of today’s feast day, (Our Lady of the Rosary) I’m proud to share this beautiful reflection, written by my friend Colleen.
I can safely say that the Rosary used to be my very least favorite prayer. I’m ashamed of it, but there it is. I found it to be intimidating and a little long-winded.
Furthermore, I just didn’t think I was any good at saying it. I knew that Christ had warned against “babbling like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words” (Matt. 6:7) and therefore was convinced that to say a really good Rosary, you had do more than just say the Hail Marys and the Our Fathers and the Glory Be’s. It must be that you had to achieve some sort of magical thought or feeling or headspace to make the prayer count.
I simply didn’t understand what the fuss was about. I knew that the Pope at the time, John Paul the Great, as well as many saints were absolutely devoted to the Rosary. I envied them their devotion. Learning about Fatima practically gave me panic attacks – how could the Rosary be so important, so essential, and I be so unbelievably bad at saying it, bad at even liking it?
It wasn’t until I became pregnant in the winter of 2014 that I came to understand the power of the Rosary.
My body was not producing enough progesterone to sustain the pregnancy, and every doctor I consulted with had a rather bleak outlook: miscarriage was a strong possibility. “You’re barely pregnant,” one of them told me, I think in an effort to be consoling. Not many people seemed to understand the depth of my fear at the possibility of losing this child, then only six, seven, eight weeks old – my child, my baby, too small to be seen or heard but there nonetheless.
I began to say the Rosary during those days simply as a way to get my mind off of the gnawing dread that existed pretty much every second in between doctor visits, when I got to hear my baby’s heartbeat and know she was alive.
I it quickly, absent-mindedly, the words flying out of my mouth. “HailMarymotherofGodtheLordiswiththeeblessedareyou…”
And in the dizzying repetition of it all, I was able to withdraw from the noise of the world and the fear festering in my soul, to fold myself away in the quiet and the peace. I felt myself cradled, embraced. I felt my heart open to gaze upon God. I can’t tell you why or how, but I can tell you – the Rosary did this for me then, and it has done it for me since, simply because I realized: nothing is expected of me other than a willing heart.
Now that my baby is here and healthy, I adore Our Blessed Mother and her most special prayer even more, because I have come to understand a little bit better her love for us and the way it is expressed in this prayer. Before becoming a mother myself, I had painted a picture of Mary in my mind as a forbidding, austere woman, spirited away by the love of God to a pedestal so high that none of us could hope to touch or even see her.
Now I know: yes, she is on that pedestal, but she spends eternity leaning down over its edge, dangling from the heights, trying to touch us, to caress us, to love us, to close the gap between the Heavens and this valley of tears.
I know that she doesn’t mind that I say the Hail Marys and the Our Fathers quickly, because I know now what it feels like to listen to your child babble. My baby can’t talk yet, but does she ever babble – all day and all night. I adore every noise that comes from her precious lips, even though very few of them sound like words. She is bad at speaking in the same way that I am bad at saying the Rosary. We both lack finesse and polish, but our mothers don’t mind.
Every night I say the Rosary while my daughter is in my arms, drifting off.
Sometimes, before she falls asleep, she will grab the crucifix that is around my neck and play with it. It’s one of her favorite toys, even though she doesn’t understand the first thing about that cross or what it’s done for her. She does not require words or catechism lessons – not now, not yet. She isn’t ready.
In many ways, we are all in our spiritual infancy here on this earth, and the Rosary is the way in which we are gathered up against our mother’s heart – that heart that nourished the Messiah, that pumped to His body the blood meant for our salvation – so that we might be rocked, gently, until we forget our many cares.