“You have said, ‘It is vain to serve God, and what do we profit by keeping his command, and going about in penitential dress in awe of the LORD of hosts?’” (Mal 3:14). So begins our First Reading. When taken figuratively, it can lead to a fruitful reflection on the Holy Rosary on this celebration of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Many of us want to pray the Rosary frequently, but struggle to do so, sometimes out of a similar concern to what the prophet Malachi speaks of here. “What good is it to pray the Rosary? It’s a lot of repetition that I can’t focus on easily, and I’m always failing to pray it when I say I will. What’s the point?”
Often, the Rosary seems like a futile effort, especially for those of us with young children. We try to pray as a family, we try to mediate on the mysteries, but we’re constantly distracted by our children and ourselves. By the time we finish, we realize we’ve been thinking of our laundry list of tasks, about our personal needs, or about something we can’t even remember now. What’s the point if we can’t even focus?
Our Lord gives a direct answer to our question in the Gospel, when speaking of a visit to a friend at midnight. It might seem like a pointless endeavor, showing up at midnight for some bread, expecting your friend to both be awake and be willing to get out of bed to lend you some food. And at first, for the man in the Gospel, it is fruitless. However, Jesus points out the value of persistence: “I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence” (Lk 11:8).
Though we may not have the perspective to see the results through our own distractions, the Lord is always listening to our faithful prayers. Every Rosary reaches His ears, and He sees our persistence.
Of course, it helps to have some practical help in praying the Rosary, too. It’s nice to know that it’s still fruitful, but it would be great if we could experience that fruitfulness personally. The first step here is recognizing that the Rosary is an optional devotion, and as such does not have quite the same fixed character as something like the Bible does. You can add the Luminous Mysteries to the Rosary, as John Paul II did, but you cannot add another book to the Bible.
In fact, the Hail Mary was originally shorter, ending with “the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.” The Rosary, too, was much shorter because of it. Then there is the practice of the scriptural Rosary, and the practice of using the mysteries to intercede for specific people or meditate on other moments of Our Lord’s life. Whatever the case, there are many ways to pray the Rosary, and we don’t have to feel bad if one is more fruitful for us than another. The point is to ask for Mary’s intercession and meditate on the mysteries of Our Lord’s life and ministry.
My own experience praying the Rosary (almost) every night with my family has shown me that you cannot expect children to sit perfectly still and levitate while praying it. It’s completely fine if your kids are playing by themselves or with toys while everyone prays. They’re taking in much more than you think.
Whatever the case, Our Lord tells us today that persistence is effective. Even if you’ve been having trouble getting into it, take some time to pick up the Rosary, even just a decade every now and again. While it’s by no means required, it comes with many blessings.
David Dashiell is a freelance writer, editor, and proofreader based in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area. His writing has been featured in Crisis Magazine and The Imaginative Conservative, and his editing is done for a variety of publishers, such as Sophia Institute and Scepter. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Feature Image Credit: mariocorrea, https://www.cathopic.com/photo/8628-santisima-virgen-maria-rosario