The great Bishop Fulton Sheen said that when we pray our rosary beads, Mary is holding the other end. Since I use a ring rosary when I drive, I guess you could say that I have Mary wrapped around my finger!
October is the month of the rosary, but I think every month is the month of the rosary. In the seminary, when I would return to my room after exhausting discussions of God as “the existential ground of our being,” I would reach for my rosary. I suspected that piety could take me where philosophy could not. I could pass tests in Christology, but I knew Mary would lead me to the heart of Christ.
The rosary seemed to develop as the prayer of the poor and uneducated in the Middle Ages. Just as the monks could be heard chanting the 150 psalms in Latin, so praying 150 Hail Marys over the course of the Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries gave opportunity for common men and women to sanctify their days as well.
I don’t meditate on the mysteries (which now includes the Illuminative Mysteries). I pray the rosary almost exclusively as I drive. For those who know the challenges I experience in my vision, that knowledge is of great comfort. Again and again I have been spared near disasters. People have walked in front of my car against the light. Cars have run red lights coming from the other direction. Each time ‘something’ kept me from moving forward. Each time a tragedy is averted, I credit Mary. I think my guardian angel quit long ago. He’s probably the only angel in Angel Rehab! I’ve driven my Spirit to spirits!
Instead of meditating on some mystery, some aspect of the life of Christ or Mary, I put an intention on each decade.
I always pray the first decade as a prayer of thanksgiving. A wise and holy person once said that if thanks was the only prayer we ever said, we would be holy people indeed. I begin with thanks.
The second decade I offer for all the people who have asked for my prayers, for all those I’ve promised prayers for. I recall one lady asking for prayers, and beginning to go into a lengthy description. Suddenly she stopped herself and said: “Just pray for me. God knows the details!”
The third decade I always pray that God will grant the fullness of life to the living and eternal life to the dead. “May all be saved”, I always pray, “May none be lost!” It doesn’t appear that the world will be converted to Christianity any time in the near future. In the Canon of the Mass, we pray for “all those who seek you with a sincere heart.” I pray for that sincerity of heart for all people. I always trust that God can find a way where there’s no way!
The fourth decade I always offer for “the poor, the sick, the suffering, and all those who help them.” We need to pray for all those in need of care and for all the caregivers.
The fifth decade I always offer for my brother priests, sisters, religious and laity who “help to build God’s kingdom”. We pray daily for the coming of God’s Kingdom. We need to pray for those who help prepare for its coming.
If I’m still driving I might offer a sixth decade for anyone “I have injured by my sins of omission or commission”. I pray for forgiveness and healing for them and for myself.
If I get to a seventh decade I pray for the coming of God’s kingdom. The kingdom will come whether I pray or not. Hopefully, my prayers help to remove some of the obstacles, at least from my life.
If I’m still driving, then I start the intentions all over again!
In addition to the usual prayer we say between decades (O My Jesus….), I have a prayer of my own right after the Glory Be: “Lord Jesus, may all people be free from danger. May all people be free from suffering. May all people be free from fear. May all people be peaceful and joyful. May all people be filled with loving kindness. May all people be saved, transformed and come to the fullness of the life and the love of your kingdom where you live forever and ever.”
Through dark nights of the soul and dark times of life, the rosary has lighted my way.