As I write this, I’m sitting in a new-to-me coffee shop that’s down the street from my midwife’s office. I’m in the final weeks of pregnancy (with a due date of July 2, I could say months, but I’m wiling it to be weeks!) and I’m treating myself to delicious coffee and pastries after each appointment. I hadn’t previously checked out this particular shop because it touts itself as a “premium gluten free and vegan bakery,” and, well, I was skeptical about the ability of a scone to taste decent, let alone good, without the inclusion of butter and all purpose flour.
Well, shame on the disbeliever in me, because I’m swooning as I currently have a bite of the most phenomenal Honey Bun Cookie in my mouth. It has a melt-in-your-mouth texture, just the right blend of sweet and salty, and a complex flavor profile. Apparently, it achieved these accolades without butter and flour-as-I-know it included, and I’m a convert (if not to a vegan diet overall, then at least to patronizing a vegan bakery!). I have texted no fewer than five friends telling them to run, not walk, to Cannon Coffee on Potomac Avenue; I’m all about spreading the word on a good thing.
And that’s how I feel about Praying the Rosary.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who has perused House of Joppa’s curated collection of Catholic gifts and products, or the blog here, that we find Marian devotion — and specifically, praying the Rosary — to be a meaningful, important and life-giving spiritual practice. There is a reason that House of Joppa’s careful selection of goods includes roughly twenty beautiful rosaries as well as rosary related accessories, and that I’ve written posts about praying the Rosary before. We want to spread the word on a good thing, encourage the practice of praying the rosary, and support anyone who has even an inkling of interest in getting started.
With that in mind, here are a few fresh tips for praying the Rosary this month of Mary.
Just StartOne of my classic issues when trying something new is wanting to have *all the information* before I get started. I want to have read a book about the history of modern art before taking a day trip to the MOMA. I want to have watched hours of youtube videos about watercoloring before painting a bookmark. I want to have the Stations of the Cross memorized before praying them. While the impulse to learn more serves me well in some moments (e.g. watching the videos about replacing a sink pipe before disassembling my bathroom vanity is a good idea), this thirst for more information often stops me from embarking on a worthwhile endeavor. Don’t let the same mistake stop you from praying the rosary: just go for it.
Use Supports as Needed
Part of the reason why you can start praying the rosary the moment you decide you have an interest in doing so is because ample sources of information and support are available to use in the moment of prayer. For instance, the Hallow App, or a youtube video, or an old school paper instruction sheet, guide listeners and viewers through the components of the rosary as they are being prayed. No need to memorize the order of prayers, or the prayers themselves, in advance.
Choose to Pray at a Time that is Conducive to Prayer
I often joke that one year I resolved to mediate for thirty minutes every day for a month… and that 28 out of 28 days (yes, I chose the shortest month of the year for this challenge) I fell asleep while meditating. At the time, I told myself that I was bad at meditating. In hindsight, I remember that I was in my first trimester of pregnancy at the time and was falling asleep at all moments during that season of life. I could have chosen a different month to zone in on meditation and I likely would have had much more success staying alert and focused.
While I don’t think that there is a wrong way to pray the rosary (and I thoroughly believe that Mother Mary would lovingly hold us as we nap, rosary in hand!), I do think it’s worth trying to pray the rosary at a time when you are least likely to be distracted by the needs of others and the needs of yourself (i.e. don’t pray hungry). You’ll be more likely to feel positive about your efforts, which will lead to an ongoing to desire to pray in this particular way.
Set an Intention
One of my uncles texted me a couple of months ago that my husband’s name came through loud and clear during his rosary prayer that morning, and so the last three decades that morning were said for him. I was so touched by this, and it got me into the practice of naming a person or other specific intention as I begin my prayers each day. You don’t need to pray the Rosary with any special intentions, but I have found it to be a meaningful and orienting practice.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again: there is no wrong way to pray if our prayers are said with the intention of bringing us closer to God. But even as there are no wrong ways to pray, there are infinite ways to strengthen our prayer lives, and I hope that these tips work towards that end.