The rosary is a part of the rhythm of my daily life. It has been that way for a long time now.
My parents taught me to pray the rosary when I was a child. They always taught my sisters and I that we had a mother in heaven who loves us — just as we had a mother on earth who loves us.
The rosary I use today belonged to my mother. She received it on the day I was ordained a priest at the Shrine of Nuestra Señora de Torreciudad in Spain, nearly 40 years ago. My ordination was a beautiful moment in my life and in the life of my family. And my mother prayed with this rosary until shortly before she died.
Recently I shared a picture of my rosary and a few words about where it came from on my social media channels — Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We created a hashtag — #MyRosaryStory — and invited others to share pictures and stories about their rosaries.
The response was overwhelming. Nearly 1.2 million people were reached by the post on Facebook alone. There were 10,000 “likes” and more than 5,000 shares. More than 500 people added their own stories.
The numbers are not what matters to me. What matters is the depth of people’s love for Jesus and Mary. What matters is that we are praying the rosary! I really believe the rosary is a key to growing in our friendship with Jesus and our following him as missionary disciples.
I have been thinking about the rosary a lot during this month of Mary. We have been reflecting on prayer in this column during the weeks of Lent and Easter, concluding our reflections on the Our Father last week.
And I was thinking that the rosary is a lot like the Our Father — it’s a family prayer that teaches us the whole Gospel. The rosary is the prayer that we make as children of God who are looking at the life of Jesus Christ through the eyes of his mother, who is also our mother.
We see this in the many touching family stories that people are sharing at #MyRosaryStory. Here is just one of hundreds you can read on my Facebook page:
“I bought a beautiful blue rosary right after my 8-year-old daughter was diagnosed with leukemia. The blue matched her eyes. While I’ve prayed countless rosaries on it during her two-and-a-half year course of treatment, she also held it in her hands during every procedure she had to have. The anesthesiologists and nurses would all comment on how beautiful it was, and when she woke up in recovery it was always right there intertwined in her little fingers. This Saturday marks her last day of treatment and I’ll be giving her that rosary for her to keep. Thank you Blessed Mother for taking care of my little girl and interceding on her behalf. She is cancer free and healthy because of you. Praise Jesus.”
If we pray the rosary every day, we start to see our lives in the light of God’s plan for us. The mysteries of our lives becomes joined to the mysteries in Jesus’ life —from the joys of his birth and hidden childhood, to the light that he cast on the earth by his preaching, teaching and healing, to the sorrows of his suffering and death, and finally to the glory of the new creation that begins with his resurrection.
Like the Our Father, the rosary is a prayer of contemplation that leads to action. At the heart of the rosary are Mary’s words from the wedding feast at Cana, the second luminous mystery — “Do whatever he tells you.” We find this same spirit at the heart of the Our Father —“Thy will be done.”
Praying the rosary as children of God and children of Mary, we grow to see that our lives are “not about us.” Our lives are meant to be lived for God and for others — for our family and friends, the people of our society, especially the poor and vulnerable. It’s about God will, not our will.
There is an old expression for reciting the rosary, “telling the beads.” You’ll find this expression sometimes when reading older books — “The woman sat quietly, telling her beads.”
And the beads we tell, tell a story of their own — a story of family and faith, a story of love for Jesus and Mary.
So this week, let’s “tell our beads” for one another. And let’s ask our Blessed Mother to pray for us, that our own stories may more and more become a part of the beautiful story of salvation that God is writing in our world.