Why do people pray the rosary: to obtain special graces? to connect with God? as Christian meditation? in reparation for one’s sins and the sins of others? for world peace?
The rosary is very mysterious and so are the effects of praying the rosary. How is it that by saying certain prayers while thinking about certain events in the life of Jesus… usually while getting distracted, thinking about other things, even falling asleep… can do anything for our relationship with God? Or even stranger, can take part in God’s plan of salvation for all mankind? Other forms of prayer seem to have more tangible effects: reading the Bible can give us a pretty clear message, silence or journaling can make us more aware of what’s going on in our interior, the sacraments can be powerful emotional experiences.
Yet do we ever really understand the effects of prayer? Or the workings of God’s salvation in us and all around us? Sure, He reveals Himself to us and we understand what we need to know, some bits and pieces, some glorious views, but His ways are not our ways. It’s inexplicable how good can come out of evil, how redemption even exists, how everything can be so interconnected, how God can transform weak, crummy lives into beautiful works of art just as He transformed two fish to feed 5,000 or water into wine.
God’s actions and works of love are so mysterious and the world we live in is so mysteriously beautiful. It seems fitting that God would ask of us something so simple and mysterious as prayer. The prayer of the rosary is even more baffling so. Sr. Angela Coelho, postulator for two of the shepherds of Fatima, said at a conference I attended that we should pray the rosary because God asks us to and because it forms our identity, even if we fall asleep or get distracted.
Sr. Angela told a story about Blessed Francisco, one of the Fatima shepherds, and his child-like faith. Before our Lady first appeared to the shepherds, they started running home with their sheep because they thought a storm was coming. All of a sudden Lucia and Jacinta, the other two children with him, kneeled down in front of a holm-oak tree. Francisco must have thought this behavior was not only strange but irresponsible, because if a storm was coming, they had to get home in a hurry. Yet when Lucia and Jacinta told him to get out his rosary and pray, he didn’t ask why. He didn’t say they didn’t have time and why in the world would he do that. He got his rosary out, started praying and on the sixth bead he saw Our Lady too.
Sr. Angela illustrated the benefits and importance of praying the rosary with many other stories and examples. The most important reason was Our Lady’s words at Fatima, “Pray the rosary everyday”… because God asks us to. It’s mysterious how exactly the rosary can be what God asks of us and what it’ll do, but equally mysterious are the ways God cares for us, and involves us in the redemption of all mankind. The effects of the rosary are magnanimous and far-reaching, but that part doesn’t belong to us. We can do what is simple, mysterious and what God asks of us.The appearances in Fatima were private revelation and therefore destined to a specific time period or group of people. Many popes have reiterated the importance of the daily prayer of the rosary, especially as a family, and many modern saints have done so.
In Sr. Angela’s view, the rosary was not only given to Portugal as a specific prayer, but as a mission for evangelization. So today I ask you, as a Portuguese-American, if you haven’t already, why not consider the daily rosary as part of your prayer routine?