by Edward Sri, Franciscan Media

Many great popes, saints, and Christian leaders have exhorted us to pray the rosary. It’s a powerful prayer, they say, one that can change your life, strengthen the family, bring peace to the world, convert entire nations, and win the salvation of souls.

But does the average person experience the rosary this way?

Many Catholics, unfortunately, have the impression that the rosary is not relevant for them. It might be a sacred prayer for very religious people—priests, religious sisters, and exceptional Catholics—but not for “an ordinary lay person like me.” Even some devout Catholics admit that they are a bit intimidated by this prayer. They have tremendous respect for the rosary, know it’s important, but feel bad that they don’t love it more. Many view it as the marathon of Catholic devotions. “I know it’s an important prayer, but it takes fifteen to twenty minutes. I’m too busy. I don’t have time for that.” “It’s too hard to stay focused for that much time. I prefer shorter prayers.”

Some have questions about the rosary: Does all this attention to Mary distract us from a relationship with God? Why do we repeat the same prayers over and over? Are we supposed to concentrate on the prayers, the mysteries, or both? Still others think the rosary is just plain boring—a monotonous, dry, mechanical way of talking to God, not as personal and meaningful as other forms of prayer. “It’s like taking the garbage out for your wife. You know you should do it, but date night is more exciting.” “Sure, the rosary might be good for you—like flossing your teeth—but it’s not as interesting and meaningful to me as spiritual reading or adoration.”

Others wonder if all the repetition has any meaning. “I know the rosary is important, but it just seems like rote prayer,” one young adult said. “It’s like saying magical words and something good is supposed to happen. What’s the point? Is simply saying these words actually doing anything for me spiritually?”

But what if I were to show you that there is a lot more going on in the rosary than simply saying these words and counting them with beads? What if I were to tell you that the rosary is not beyond you—that you, wherever you may be in your relationship with God, can actually experience a profound, intimate, personal encounter with Jesus through this devotion? And what if you were to discover that there are many different ways to pray the rosary—indeed, some that can easily fit within your schedule and help you with whatever challenges you face right now in your life.

Think of the rosary as being like the ocean: There’s something in it for everyone, whether you consider yourself a veteran mystic longing to go deeper in prayer with our Lord, a novice struggling to learn how to pray, or someone seeking the Lord’s help, right now, with something going on in your life. The deep-sea explorer and the child making sand castles on the beach can fully enjoy the same ocean while playing at different levels. And this is true with the rosary.

Getting Your Feet Wet

If the rosary is not a part of your regular prayer life right now, it’s easy to get your feet wet with this devotion. Here are five key things you need to know to get started.

First, we don’t have to pray the rosary all at once. Sure, some people might sit down and quietly pray a whole rosary in one sitting. But we can also choose to divide it up, saying just a decade or two at a time at different points throughout the day: on the way to work, in between errands, in between meetings, while folding laundry or doing dishes. Many holy men and women and even popes have prayed the rosary this way and have found it manageable and fruitful for their busy lives.

Second, we can pray it anywhere! The rosary is like a portable chapel we can keep in our pocket and pull out anytime, anyplace. Whether we have a sudden, urgent situation to present to God in prayer or we just want to fill some of our day with thoughts of God, all we need to do is pull out our beads and turn to the Lord in this prayer. Indeed, the rosary is always accessible.

We might pray it in a church, in our room, in our office. Or we might pray it in the car, on the exercise machine, in the grocery store line, or while cutting the grass or going for a walk. Bringing our hearts into the rhythm of the rosary is something we can do intermittently throughout the day.

Third, we can pray the rosary in different ways, customizing it to fit the needs of the moment. Sometimes we might focus on the words of the prayers, thinking, for example, of Gabriel’s greeting to Our Lady as we slowly say with great devotion, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.” At other times, we might reflect on the mysteries of Christ’s life, prayerfully contemplating scenes such as his birth in Bethlehem, his transfiguration, or his death on the cross, etching the Gospel on our hearts. At still other times, we might focus on the holy name of Jesus at the center of each Hail Mary, speaking his name tenderly with love as the pulse of our rosary.

Two and-a-Half Minutes That Can Change Your Day

Fourth, it’s easy to fit the rosary into your schedule. Do you have two and-a-half minutes in your day that you can give to God? is is the beauty of the rosary.

If I need a quick pause in my busy life—just a two-and-a-half-minute break—I can pull out my beads and pray a decade in order to regroup with the Lord and be nourished spiritually. That’s all a decade takes: one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, and one Glory Be. I can do that easily, pausing for a moment in between emails, in the car, in my office, in between meetings, in between errands. I don’t even have to stop some things I’m doing: I can pray a decade while cooking dinner, sweeping the floor, holding a baby, or walking to my next appointment.

If an urgent need comes up in the day—someone is in an accident, I’m about to begin a big project, my spouse is having a rough day, I have an important decision to make, I need to have a difficult conversation with someone, my child is taking an exam—I can say a quick decade right on the spot. In just two and-a-half minutes, I can offer a special gift to God—one decade of the rosary—for that particular intention.

Fifth, even if I’m not able to give the rosary my full attention, it’s still worth praying. I might not always be able to completely unplug mentally from the concerns of the day. I might be exhausted, too tired to pray well. I might be distracted and unable to reach the heights of contemplation. But still, the words themselves are biblical and holy. Offering God a decade or two in the midst of my daily life gives him something beautiful, even if I give it without my full, relaxed, undivided attention. I’m giving God some space in my day and filling it with words of praise for him.

Going Deeper

But the rosary can take us deeper—a lot deeper. When we pray the rosary in its ideal setting, doing a whole set of mysteries, the prayer can slow us down, calm our hearts, and enable us to rest in God’s presence. It draws out the deepest desires in our souls, desires for God and God alone.

The rhythm of the repetitious prayers can have a profound spiritual effect. In this, it is much like the traditional “Jesus Prayer” many early Christians recited: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” They would slowly repeat these words over and over again throughout the day, such that the rhythm of this prayer was linked to the rhythm of their breathing.

As John Paul II explained, this loving repetition “embodies the desire for
 Christ to become the breath, soul and all of one’s life” (RVM, 27). In the same way, the repeated prayers in the rosary help us get more in touch with the deepest desires in our souls for God.

We as human persons are made with infinite desires that only God can fulfill. But because we’re fallen, we tend to live at the level of our superficial desires—desires for comfort, fun, fame, wealth, pleasure, success. These desires are not bad, but the rosary helps us be more aware of the soul’s deepest desires, which are for God. As St. Catherine of Siena taught, the greatest gift we can give to God in prayer is not the finite work of saying the words but our “infinitely desirous love” for God that is expressed in those words and that is being drawn out of our souls in prayer.

How might this happen in the rosary? As we’ll see more in my book, when we pray the rosary, we can focus on the name of Jesus at the center of every Hail Mary. We can simply speak Jesus’s name with fervent, heartfelt love. We can gather all our desires into that one word, his beautiful, holy name. And with each Hail Mary, we can call out to him, like a lover speaking to the beloved: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus…Jesus…Jesus.”

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Saying goodbye (more like good riddance!) to one of the most trying years we faced with a worldwide pandemic, let us welcome 2021 by welcoming God into our homes in a very special, unique way. This year we invite you to take part in an old tradition of “chalking the door” to celebrate the Epiphany, the day that marks the arrival of the magi, to the place where Jesus was born! The Epiphany will be celebrated on Sunday, January 3 as the 12th day of Christmas. All you need are the prayers (see below), chalk and holy water for your own celebration!

What is “Chalking the Door”?

“Chalking the door” is a sign and symbol of asking God’s blessing upon those who live, work or visit throughout the coming year. In Exodus, the Israelites marked their doors with blood so that the Lord would pass over their homes; but in this service, we mark our doors with chalk as a sign that we have invited God’s presence and blessing into our homes.

In Deuteronomy 6:9, God tells the people of Israel, “These words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house… You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” Chalking the door is a tangible way to honor God in our lives.

How to Participate

  1. Using chalk, write on the outside of house or inside above the front main entrance, above or next to an entrance: +20 Christus Mansionem Benedicat 21+ or  +20 C M B 21+
  2. Pray (and sprinkle the entrance with holy water): Lord God of heaven and earth, You revealed Your only begotten Son to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless this house and all who live here and all who visit. May we be blessed with health, kindess of heart, gentleness and the keeping of Your law. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our love for each other may go out to all. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

+20 C M B 21+

The letters C M B come from the traditional names for the three kings, Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar. It is also an abbreviation for “Christus Mansionem Benedicat” which means, “May Christ bless this dwelling”! The first and last numbers simply refer to the current year.

When we’re depressed or feeling blue, this prayer from Padre Pio is a way to reach out

Aletia: Margaret Rose Realy, Obl.OSB | Jan 10, 2018

If you find yourself in a state of darkness, the key is “to reach.”

The small framed unsigned print reads “Reach up as high as you can today, and God will reach down the rest of the way.” It’s my go-to quote for those times when I feel an emotional darkness—depression—coming on. For many of us this darkness is a familiar not-so-good old friend, the Black Dog mentioned by Sir Winston Churchill—or seasonal affective disorder.The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) has clinical definitions for depression, and there is as well the spiritual darkness that St. John of the Cross writes about in Dark Night of the Soul. However you’ve come to a depressive state, and for whatever history brought you there, the key in both of those dark times is to reach.

The state of darkness and depression is not a void. It is a space filled with insights that we are momentarily blinded to. When we try to go it alone, we are often too wearied to keep from going under, instead succumbing to the waves of hopelessness.

To reach is not an intuitive movement when psychologically and/or spiritually sinking into depression. Even though we’ve been taught that to despair is to turn our backs to God—which is a sin—there is another element to despairing that is sometimes overlooked. It comes from the Rule of St. Benedict, “In all things may God be glorified.”

The Prayer from Padre Pio

In a recent confession, when I was in a season of depression, the priest gave me a very specific penance. I was to read about Jesus walking on stormy seas, and Peter’s fear in Matthew 14:30-31. Then reflect, specifically, on that moment when Peter is desperately reaching out to Our Lord—that second just before Jesus takes his hand.

It was a dark and doubt-filled moment for Peter, whose faith had faltered. It was also an intuitive response to a person physically drowning — reaching out, trying to grasp at anything to save his life.

Assured that the Lord had taken my hand so I will not drown, I often read this prayer, sometimes three times through!

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have you present so that I do not forget you. You know how easily I abandon you.
Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak, and I need your strength, so that I may not fall so often.
Stay with me, Lord, for you are my life, and without you, I am without fervor.
Stay with me, Lord, for you are my light, and without you, I am in darkness.
Stay with me, Lord, to show me your will.
Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear your voice and follow you.
Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love you very much, and always be in your company.
Stay with me, Lord, if you wish me to be faithful to you.
Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I want it to be a place of consolation for you, a nest of love. Amen.
~St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Prayer After Communion

Depression is a battle, and for some of us a lifelong cross to bear. In bearing it as best we can while reaching up and out for help, we are led in to a deeper maturity of faith—which like most virtues, is not easily won.

THE HOLY FATHER’S PRAYER INTENTIONS
ENTRUSTED TO HIS WORLDWIDE PRAYER NETWORK FOR THE YEAR 2020

August

Universal prayer intention – The Maritime World
We pray for all those who work and live from the sea, among them sailors, fishermen and their families.

September

Universal prayer intention – Respect for the Planet’s Resources
We pray that the planet’s resources will not be plundered, but shared in a just and respectful manner.

October

Prayer intention for evangelisation – The Laity’s Mission in the Church
We pray that by the virtue of baptism, the laity, especially women, may participate more in areas of responsibility in the Church.

November

Universal prayer intention – Artificial Intelligence
We pray that the progress of robotics and artificial intelligence may always serve humankind.

December

Prayer intention for evangelisation – For a life of prayer
We pray that our personal relationship with Jesus Christ be nourished by the Word of God and a life of prayer.

Here are some suggestions for a more meaningful virtual participation of the liturgy created by a Paulist priest:

As we consider what it might mean to celebrate the Eucharist virtually, it is important also to reflect deeply on what being present to one another in virtual spaces actually means. Just as it’s possible to be in close physical proximity with others while simultaneously being absent mentally or spiritually, it’s also possible to be virtually present to one another in profound, meaningful, and real ways even when we’re physically distant. The following suggestions are ways to help us celebrate in this new paradigm in our “home” sanctuaries:

  • Read the scripture for the upcoming celebrations beforehand. You can easily access all readings from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) website. www.usccb.org/bible. You can also access the readings on apps such as Laudate and MyParish App. Readings are also listed in the bulletin each week.
  • Create a setting for the celebration. For example, use your dining table as the place from which you participate. Light a candle. Have a cross, crucifix, or religious icon on hand. If you are fortunate to be with others, have a loaf of bread that can be broken at the time of communion.
  • Observe familiar postures. Standing and sitting at appropriate times throughout the celebration can enhance our prayer. (See Catholic Apologist Gus Lloyd’s explanation of “Catholic Calesthenics” HERE.)
  • Remove distractions. Turn off cell phones (unless of course that is your source of participating) and refrain from snacking.
  • Dress up. Sleepwear *probably* isn’t the most appropriate attire for church!

Soon we will come back together to celebrate the Eucharist at the Lord’s table at Assumption!

So, do I *have* to watch Mass since I can’t go?

A post by Aleteia, Thursday, March 13, 2020

There’s no requirement to watch Mass when the obligation has been dispensed, but yes, the 3rd Commandment still applies!

In light of the suspension of public worship in many places, some Catholics have found themselves asking, “Am I required to watch Mass”? In other words, since it is impossible to get to Mass, is it a sin to not try to attend virtually?

No, it is not required to watch Holy Mass online or on television (or to listen on the radio for that matter). To those who have already expressed their frustration at slow or over-crowded streaming services or inadequately announced worship schedules, you’re in the clear.

Even though many bishops have dispensed us from our Sunday obligation (dispensation is the legal term for the relaxing of our normal practice), we should still, to the best of our ability, keep Sunday holy.

To that end, I recommend the following practices:

DO NOT WORK ON SUNDAY
The temptation, while working from home, will be very great to allow Sunday to be like other days. Fight this with your whole heart. Sunday belongs to the Lord. Do not allow yourself on Sunday to slip into the rhythm of other days.

DO WATCH OR LISTEN TO MASS
No, you do not have to, but it is praiseworthy. If you cannot watch it at the “live” time, watch it later in the day. Many places have made archived video available. If that’s the case, you could watch the Mass after it happens; no need to worry that it’s not a “live” celebration.

READ THE SUNDAY READINGS
It may be the case that in your house, watching Mass is too much like other activities (movies, video games, etc.). I could understand children participating better in a family prayer service. To that end, read the Sunday readings aloud. Perhaps listen to a recorded homily or have a family member give a reflection. Share prayer intentions.

PRAY THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS
The Liturgy of the Hours, also called the Divine Office, is the Church’s rhythm of biblical and monastic prayer. Grounded in the traditions of the first Christians who gathered to recite Psalms and the Our Father, this method of prayer continues unabated. See this article for more on the Liturgy of the Hours.

CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE
Maybe on Sunday you could make a “no TV” rule or have a game night. Go for a walk as a family. Take up another Lenten devotion together, such as praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary or the Stations of the Cross.

Keeping Sunday holy means claiming time for God. This is done principally in the formal, official worship of the Church, the Mass. The priest stands in for Christ and offers back to the Father every prayer and heavenly blessing. We can still unite our hearts to the sacrifice of the Mass. We are still called to keep Sunday holy.

This is a time of difficulty, deprivation, and sorrow. It is part of our Lent: heading to the desert to sacrifice and pray as Christ did. Let us ask God to make these days fruitful. His grace will be at work in many quiet and surprising ways! Let us beg the Lord that we don’t miss it!

The Blessed Virgin Mary promised to Saint Dominic and to all who follow that “Whatever you ask in the Rosary will be granted.” She left for all Christians Fifteen Promises to those who recite the Holy Rosary.

Imparted to Saint Dominic and Blessed Alan:

  1. Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.
  2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
  3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
  4. The Rosary will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
  5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish.
  6. Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
  7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
  8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenititude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
  9. I shall deliver from Purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
  10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.
  11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.
  12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
  13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
  14. All who recite the Rosary are my sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters of my only Son Jesus Christ.
  15. Devotion of my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.

Basically every situation we face in life has a heavenly intercessor specifically linked to it.

Public Domain | Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P./Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 | Public Domain

Public Domain | Fr. Lawrence Lew, O.P./Flickr CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 | Public Domain

We Catholics have a lot of patron saints, such that basically every facet of life experience is covered by some saint who has a connection to it.Even if a situation looks plain impossible, we can always turn to St. Jude, the patron of Impossible.

The reasons that saints are connected to their patronages can be obvious and direct, or sometimes quite humorous. But it’s consoling to know that a heavenly intercessor is always at the ready to present our needs to the Lord.

 It’s not surprising, then, that we have a handful of saints to call on in pandemics. Since coronavirus is on everyone’s mind, here are a few saints with whom we can strike up a conversation about our present needs.

Let us start with the Four Holy Marshals. Of the four, we are only including two: St. Quirinus of Neuss, a patron saint for fighting smallpox, and St. Anthony the Great, a patron saint for combating the plague.

St. Quirinus of Neuss – Patron for those affected by bubonic plague and smallpox

Quirinus was born in the first century and died in the year 116 A.D.  Legend has it that he was a Roman tribune and was ordered to execute Alexander, Eventius, and Theodolus. These men had been arrested on orders of the emperor. Their crime: being Christian.

But Quirinus witnessed miracles performed by the three men and was baptized into the faith along with his daughter, Balbina. He and Balbina were decapitated for becoming Christian and buried in the catacomb on the Via Appia.

Move ahead 1,500 years. Documents from Cologne, dated 1485, say Quirinus’ body was donated in 1050 by Pope Leo IX to his sister, the abbess of Neuss. Soon after, Charles the Bold of Burgundy laid siege to Neuss with his army spreading from western Germany, the Netherlands, and as far south as Italy. The citizens of Neuss invoked Quirinus for help, and the siege ended. Wellsprings popped up and were dedicated to him. He was then called on to fight against bubonic plague and smallpox.

This saying by farmers is associated with Quirinus’ feast day of March 30, a similar tradition to Groundhog Day. It reads, “As St. Quirinus Day goes, so will the summer.”  

St. Anthony the Great – Patron of those affected by infectious diseases

One of the greatest saints of the early Church, Anthony was one of the first monks and is considered the founder and father of organized Christian monasticism.

He organized disciples into a community and these communities eventually spread throughout Egypt. Anthony is known as Anthony the Great, Anthony of Egypt, Anthony of the Desert, and Anthony of Thebes.  He is also known as the Father of All Monks. His feast day is celebrated on January 17.

St. Anthony the Great is also invoked as a patron against infectious diseases.

Edwin the Martyr (St. Edmund) — Patron for victims of pandemics

Edmund is an acknowledged patron against pandemics. Much is written about this saint from the 9th century who died in 869. Interestingly though, hardly anything is known for certain about him. Yet there are churches all over England dedicated to him. The Danes murdered him when they conquered his army in 869.

Edmund the Martyr, in addition to being the patron saint invoked against pandemics, is also the patron of torture victims and protection from the plague.

We might mention a few more saints who are patrons for those who struggle with familiar illnesses and afflictions:

    • St. Damien of Molokai: Patron saint of those with leprosy (Hansen’s disease)
    • St. Dymphna: The 15-year-old Irish girl who is patroness of emotional disorders
    • The Fourteen Holy Helpers: Epidemics, especially the bubonic plague (the Black Death)
    • StMatthias: Patron saint of alcoholics and those with smallpox
    • St. Tryphon:  Patron to aid us in fighting off bed bugs, rodents, and locusts

The list is endless. What’s certain is that the saints are waiting for your call.

By Saint Louis de Montfort

How to Avoid Distraction When Praying the Rosary

To be guilty of willful distractions during prayer shows a great lack of respect and reverence. It makes our Rosaries unfruitful and makes us guilty of sin. Let’s learn how to avoid distraction when praying the Rosary!

How can we expect God to listen to us if we ourselves do not pay attention to what we are saying? How can we expect him to be pleased if, while in the presence of his tremendous majesty, we give in to distractions, like a child running after a butterfly? People who do that forfeit God’s blessing, which is changed into a curse for having treated the things of God disrespectfully: “Cursed be the one who does God’s work negligently.” Jer. 48:10.

Of course, you cannot say your Rosary without having a few involuntary distractions. It is even difficult to say a Hail Mary without your imagination troubling you a little, for it is never still. But you can say it without voluntary distractions. And you must take all sorts of precautions to lessen involuntary distractions and to control your imagination.

To do this:

1) Put yourself in the presence of God and imagine that God and his Blessed Mother are watching you.

2) Imagine that your guardian angel is at your right hand, taking your Hail Marys. If we say them well, our guardian angel will use them like roses to make crowns for Jesus and Mary.

3) Remember that at your left hand is the devil. He’s ready to pounce on every Hail Mary that comes his way. He will write it down in his book of death if they are not said with attention, devotion, and reverence.

4) Do not fail to offer up each decade in honor of one of the mysteries. Try to form a picture in your mind of Jesus and Mary in connection with that mystery.

STORY

We read in the life of Blessed Hermann of the Order of the Premonstratensians. At one time, he used to say the Rosary attentively and devoutly while meditating on the mysteries. Our Lady used to appear to him resplendent in breathtaking majesty and beauty.

But, as time went on, his fervor cooled and he fell into the way of saying his Rosary hurriedly and without giving it his full attention. Then one day our Lady appeared to him again. But this time she was far from beautiful. There were furrows on her face and her face shown great sadness.

Blessed Hermann was appalled at the change in her. Our Lady explained, “This is how I look to you, Hermann, because this is how you are treating me. As a woman to be despised and of no importance. Why do you no longer greet me with respect and attention while meditating on my mysteries and praising my privileges?”

The Rosary is the hardest prayer to say well

When the Rosary is well said, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious for the soul than any other prayer. But it is also the hardest prayer to say well and to persevere in, owing especially to the distractions which almost inevitably attend the constant repetition of the same words.

When we say the Little Office of Our Lady, or the Seven Penitential Psalms, or any prayers other than the Rosary, the variety of words and expressions keeps us alert. It prevents our imagination from wandering.  And makes it easier for us to say them well. On the contrary, because of the constant repetition of the Our Father and Hail Mary in the same unvarying form, it is difficult, while saying the Rosary, not to become wearied and inclined to sleep, or to turn to other prayers that are more refreshing and less tedious.

This shows that one needs much greater devotion to persevere in saying the Rosary than in saying any other prayer, even the Psalter of David.

Keeping the Imagination Focused

Our imagination, which is hardly still a minute, makes our task harder. And then of course there is the devil who never tires of trying to distract us and keep us from praying. To what ends does not the evil one go against us while we are saying our Rosary against him.

Being human, we easily tire and our prayers can then be slipshod. But the devil makes these difficulties worse when we are saying the Rosary. Before we even begin, he makes us feel bored, distracted, or exhausted. And when we have started praying, he oppresses us from all sides. And when after much difficulty and many distractions, we have finished, he whispers to us:

“What you have just said is worthless. It is useless for you to say the Rosary. You had better get on with other things. It is only a waste of time to pray without paying attention to what you are saying. Half-an-hour’s meditation or some spiritual reading would be much better. Tomorrow, when you are not feeling so sluggish, you’ll pray better. Leave the rest of your Rosary till then.”

By tricks of this kind the devil gets us to give up the Rosary altogether. Or to say it less often. And we keep putting it off or change to some other devotion.

How to Defeat the Devil

Dear friend, do not listen to the devil. But be of good heart, even if your imagination has been bothering you throughout your Rosary, filling your mind with all kinds of distracting thoughts. So long as you tried your best to get rid of them as soon as you noticed them.

Always remember that the best Rosary is the one with the most merit. There is more merit in praying when it is hard than when it is easy. Prayer is all the harder when it is, naturally speaking, distasteful to the soul and is filled with those annoying little ants and flies running about in your imagination, against your will, and scarcely allowing you the time to enjoy a little peace and appreciate the beauty of what you are saying.

Even if you have to fight distractions all through your whole Rosary, be sure to fight well, arms in hand. That is to say, do not stop saying your Rosary even if it is difficult to say and you have no sensible devotion. It is a terrible battle, but one that is profitable to the faithful soul.

Don’t give in to the evil one

If you put down your arms, that is, if you give up the Rosary, you will be admitting defeat and then the devil, having got what he wanted, will leave you in peace. On the day of judgment he will taunt you because of your faithlessness and lack of courage. “He who is faithful in little things will also be faithful in those that are greater.” Luke 16:10.

He who is faithful in rejecting the smallest distractions when he says even the smallest prayer, will also be faithful in great things. Nothing is more certain, since the Holy Spirit has told us so.

So all of you, servants and handmaids of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Virgin, who have made up your minds to say the Rosary every day, be of good heart. Do not let the multitude of flies (as I call the distractions that make war on you during prayer) make you abandon the company of Jesus and Mary, in whose holy presence you are when saying the Rosary. In what follows I shall give you suggestions for diminishing distractions in prayer.

More Helpful Ways to Avoid Distractions

After you have invoked the Holy Spirit, in order to say your Rosary well, place yourself for a moment in the presence of God and make the offering of the decades in the way I will show you later.

Before beginning a decade, pause for a moment or two, depending on how much time you have, and contemplate the mystery that you are about to honor in that decade.

Always be sure to ask, by this mystery and through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, for one of the virtues that shines forth most in this mystery or one of which you are in particular need.

Take great care to avoid the two pitfalls that most people fall into during the Rosary. The first is the danger of not asking for any graces at all, so that if some good people were asked their Rosary intention they would not know what to say. So, whenever you say your Rosary, be sure to ask for some special grace or virtue, or strength to overcome some sin.

The second fault commonly committed in saying the Rosary is to have no intention other than that of getting it over with as quickly as possible. This is because so many look upon the Rosary as a burden, which weighs heavily upon them when it has not been said, especially when we have promised to say it regularly or have been told to say it as a penance more or less against our will.