When living in Hyattsville, Maryland (on the belt loop in D.C., as previously mentioned in this post), I can literally say that I felt like a fish out of water.
Why? (Is praying the Rosary that hard?)
Catholicism was, to be honest, a little disappointing to me at the very beginning of our conversion. It just wasn't all it seemed cracked up to be. For one thing, I read a book called The Private Prayers of Pope John Paul II. Many are addresses he gave in public places, on The Secular Institutes. Falling on my very non-Catholic, American ears, the leader of your church shouldn't be writing something about Secular life... should he? Or, oh, that's simply referring to the laity? Why are the public addresses included in the book referred to as "private prayers"? At the time, many things did not make any sense to me.
I joined Rosary Moms and prayed the Rosary, out loud, in front of people that I had just met. More often than not, I felt like a complete fool. Half of the prayers included on the list I didn't have memorized. I had to ask a lot of really stupid questions. Sometimes I felt my ego depended on a confident friend or two who took me under their wing and lifted me up. And then of course there was always that person who lived to shoot me down.* It was all so upsetting. Veryupsetting.
All those days of tongue-in-cheek aside, all of those days of-- if we're honest--some hard times and maybe even a little suffering, I'm left wondering: not just how do we pray the Rosary, but why do we pray the Rosary?
First of all, we pray the Rosary to meditate on the mysteries of Scripture. The Rosary and the Scriptures go hand in hand. Each day a different set of mysteries is recalled. Joyful on Monday? You must be crazy. ;) (Joyful on Mondays and Saturdays, Luminous on Thursdays, Sorrowful on Tuesdays and Fridays, Glorious on Wednesdays and Sundays).
Second of all, we pray the Rosary in order to gain spiritual food and spiritual fruit. One example is Spiritual Poverty, as gained by praying the Rosary while meditating on The Nativity of Christ. A person might think of the shame of Joseph, the roundness of Mary's belly, and the Christ Child in all of his smallness. My daughter asked if we go clockwise or counter-clock wise. I actually wasn't 100%, but I told her "to the right."
Third of all, we pray the Rosary to find sincerity of heart, and therefore, peace. There is no peace if you're "doing faith" for the attention of man. Often our prayers can be simply a form of self-betterment, even the exaltation of our spiritual maturity, or a chance to show off our accomplishments in life. Prayer is a touchy thing, and it is a delicate thing. Like a crystal chandelier, maybe. Like a rosary of precious beads.
Finally, and fourth of all, we pray the Rosary because it is not a norm. Cultural Christianity hasn't left much room for Mary. It makes us Catholics different. It once made me squirm with annoyance and discomfort. Now -- I love it. What about all of this makes you feel uncomfortable? If it does, then good. It should.
I wrote an article for Called to Communion- a website my husband and I have enjoyed reading for several years. Visit the link -- and dear reader, please let me know if you have thoughts or questions. I encourage visiting the link and interacting there on the Called to Communion website.