For many people, taking the time to say the Rosary is a chore. The Rosary is very repetitive, and can be boring or tedious; it is hard to find the time, since saying one Mystery can take anywhere between 10-30 minutes. Also, others believe that saying formal prayers is not relevant anymore asking: “isn't the Rosary an archaic medieval practice for the uneducated? God likes prayers from the heart, spontaneous and not lengthy. He doesn't want us to pray the same prayers day after day. In fact, Jesus condemns vain repetition: "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” (Matthew 6:7)
If we can work through these difficulties and any excuse that we find ourselves reverting to, then we will see that taking the time to pray the Rosary daily will actually influence our lives in a very positive way. We will find that our discipline will improve; the vices that we struggle with will fall away from us; we will be more at peace with ourselves and those around us; and lastly, we will be confident that we are walking with God—not just making our own way alone.
How does praying the Rosary do this?
First, it is a discipline. It is an act of the will to consciously set a time aside for God to reflect on the Life of Christ in a particular way. Communicating with God often requires a premeditated act of the will; it also centers us and strengthens our spiritual life, taking it outside the realms of feelings—that is, to say, we don’t just pray when we feel a certain way, or when we need a certain thing. Instead it is consciously building a relationship.
From our interactions with others, we see that if we put on time limits and never bring anything new, then our relationships becomes awkward and static. But friendships that grow on common interest, where individuals are investing in time, and in a positive focus, will be more likely to flourish in a healthy way.
To have a healthy friendship, repetition is actually a basic and solid foundation. Common interests and stability grows, when we have repeat conversations with each other, giving the other an opportunity to give us something. For instance, we might ask everyday, “How was your day?” If our friend says, “I am well,“ and goes no further, we have nothing to build on. But if he says, “I am happy because. . . ”, then we can begin to engage with him. Over time, the “because” will include deeper and more personal experiences. Therefore, in asking the same questions, we begin to see patterns, build trust, and we develop a sense of who we are befriending, and who we are in relation to this person.
However, he repetition that we wish to avoid is babbling. We do not want to fall into reciting the Rosary mindlessly, or with the intention to change God. Babbling and telling is not listening. Friendships do not grow if one person never takes the time to listen. In the Rosary, we likewise, do not want to be found guilty of rattling off words. This is a waste of time, and we receive nothing.
The Rosary: the prayers, and the way the whole meditation is set up, is brilliantly, a call and response. It is a love dialogue—a way to engage deeper— if, we want it. In reflecting on the Mystery of the Annunciation, for example, we have the opportunity to ponder what actually happened. Once we understand what occurred, we are able to ponder further: “Well, why did it happen that way? Mary, were you actually afraid? Or was the angel’s appearance simply startling? What was the angel thinking? Was this the first time an angel gave a human honor?” The formal prayers give us the time, and the words, to really chew upon and digest the Mystery. With God is nothing is ever forced, so our investment will determine what kind of friendship we have with Him.
Secondly, the Rosary helps us understand ourselves. It is a mode of discovery. “Who am I? What do I stand for? What is my individual purpose? What are my strengths? What are my weaknesses?” It is not an archaic medieval formula for the uneducated. Rather, it is for the educated; it deepens and increases wisdom.
By reflecting upon the life of Jesus, who is both God and man, we can see what virtues are possible for man, and we can begin to strive for these. “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”(Matthew 5:48) By recognizing virtue and then looking honestly at ourselves will open us up for genuine improvement. The discipline that the Rosary requires, and the graces given to those who are faithful to it, builds up our ability to actually make the changes we need. The vices we struggle with eventually disappear and we have a much clearer self-awareness. When we see ourselves clearly, we are able to also see God more clearly, and His presence in more avenues of our life. What we are meant to do will be unmistakable; we will be able to act in confidence, knowing that God is by our side. We will experience with Him that nothing is impossible.