Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Praying the Rosary on Our Lady's Feast

The Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary has, for me, always felt like a non-feast. And, in many ways, it is, because it celebrates a movement of prayer and tradition that is fundamental to our Faith--Mary as a woman of prayer. But, this day in early October is also set aside to honor the Holy Roman Empire's victory at the Battle of Lepanto, during which the Christian forces defeated the invading Turkish forces. Although this isn't the only day on the Church's liturgical calendar that has this sort of provenance (i.e. the Commemoration of the Most Holy Name of Mary), it is an important part of the day's character, highlighting Mary's role as an intercessor for the Church.

This evening, in honor of today's celebration, I set aside time to pray the rosary, as well as the Liturgy of the Hours. Although I'm usually quick to admit that the rosary is not one of my preferred forms of prayer (it has always been more of a discipline), I wanted to be sure that the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary didn't go by without my offering this ancient and revered prayer.

I learned to pray the rosary from my paternal Grandmother, who passed away in 2007. For a large part of my childhood, I spent nearly every weekend with my grandparents. Often, my grandmother would take me to Saturday morning Mass in our home parish and, immediately after Mass, as they did each day, a group of parishioners would recite the rosary. Intrigued as I was by the string of beads with its central medal and crucifix and the mix of prayers, I would ask to stay. Unlike so many others, my introduction to the rosary (and devotion to Mary, for that matter) took place within a context that felt very organic and those who made this daily devotion such an obvious part of their day showed me that this ancient prayer is something that could be loved and even counted upon for comfort and encouragement. Later, once I had learned the prayers, my grandmother and I would sometimes pray the rosary together in the afternoon.

My Grandfather Henderson's First Communion Rosary (ca. 1922)
and my copy of Christian Prayer
Through the years I have had a lack-luster track record of rosary recitation, but it remains a devotion that is dear to my heart. I'm grateful for those generations of pray-ers who helped this devotion evolve to the form we have today and to those faithful women and men, nearly all of whom have passed away, who showed me how beautiful this devotion can be.

And so, this evening I prayed the rosary on a set of beads that belonged to my paternal grandfather, offering thanks for the gift of faith that my Grandma and Grandpa Henderson had handed on to me. I also prayed for all those taking part in the Extraordinary Synod on the Family.

Although I try to make these posts as thoughtful and reflective as possible, highlighting points of Scripture and liturgical tradition, this evening I just want to share my prayer of thanks for the wonderful traditions of prayer with which we have been entrusted. I also want to urge you, whomever and wherever you are, to take some time during the month of October to pray the rosary. Finally, I want to ask that you please pray for me and for all those who have helped nurture the light of faith that is glowing within you.

Holy Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!


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