I was in a car on my way to what would become my favorite pilgrimage destination, the Holy House of Loreto in Italy. I joined a newly ordained priest, two seminarians, and another young woman I met in an intensive Italian course.
As expected (and as I nervously anticipated), our car ride included praying the Rosary together. It was my turn to lead a decade, and I announced, “the sixth joyful mystery!” (Disclaimer: there are only five decades in the Rosary, no matter what mysteries you pray, on any day.) Now, if you were in the car with me, how would you have responded? Would you have laughed? Would you have not noticed a thing?
Thankfully no one laughed. No one actually said anything.
Another time, I was in the car with a bishop. With my coworker, I was accompanying him to a Confirmation across the diocese. On the way home, what were we going to pray? The Rosary. Oh, boy! He asked me to lead a decade. I paused to gather my thoughts, and the bishop said, tongue-in-cheek in a loud voice, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty…”. I was embarrassed. Did he think I didn’t know how to start it? I did know! I just didn’t know the Mysteries.
I Need a Guide to Pray the Rosary
Here’s the thing. While I’ve grown in many ways since that pilgrimage and car ride with the bishop, knowing there are only five mysteries per Rosary, and knowing I need to start the prayers more quickly if I am leading (I guess?!), I am afraid to say I still need a guide to know what mysteries are recited on what day for each decade.
You might think, “Wow, you’re a canon lawyer and spiritual director and you don’t know the mysteries of the Rosary?” Humbly, and with some warmth in my cheeks, I would have to say, that’s right. I need a guide every time I pray the Rosary. Now, I have the Divine Mercy Chaplet down, but I just can’t seem to memorize the mysteries of the Rosary.
But I take comfort in this: talking to my friend Tom, an older gentleman, who shared, with no embarrassment, it took him years to learn the prayers of the Rosary. He told the Blessed Mother that if she wanted him to pray the Rosary, she needed to teach him the Mysteries. What happened? He received the necessary graces and now has the mysteries, including what days to pray which set of mysteries, down pat.
I share all of this with you to encourage you, at whatever stage you’re at in your spiritual journey. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. Don’t let your shortcomings keep you from growing in more profound thought and prayer. One of the beautiful things about our Church is that we have so many resources available to us to help us on the journey.
Persevere in Reciting the Rosary
As I continue to grow and persevere in the recitation of the Rosary, here are three things (including two resources!) I have found helpful:
- When praying with someone, be honest at the start. I typically say, “Hey, I don’t know the Mysteries. I don’t mind leading, but would you be willing to announce the Mystery for each decade?”
- For years, I just didn’t pray the Rosary because I didn’t know the mysteries. Not a good plan. The Rosary is the Blessed Mother’s gift to us to bring us closer to her Son and immerse us in the Word of God. So, what do you do? I’ve taken up purchasing Rosary prayer cards and tuck them in my prayer books, car, purse, back pocket, around the house. Buy several of these prayer cards and put them in different locations so you won’t have an excuse not to pray the Rosary.
- I certainly go through seasons of more consistently praying the Rosary. As of late, I have been on a daily streak! What got me here: Not needing a prayer card all of the time. I’ve grown in confidence through accompaniment offered by the Hallow Prayer app. You can ask those closest to me. I didn’t expect it, but ever since I downloaded Hallow this past winter, I may have missed one or two days of praying the Rosary, but that’s it. To me, that’s worth all the investment. Try a 30-day free trial to Hallow Plus.
What helps you pray the Rosary? Remember – there’s no shame in being honest about what you need to help you grow in the spiritual life. We have so many resources available to us; we just have to take responsibility for our growth and seek out what can help us.
If you are ready to begin praying the Rosary daily or commit to integrating more prayer in your daily life, why not join Hallow?