“Say the Rosary every day…
Pray, pray a lot and offer sacrifices for sinners…
I’m Our Lady of the Rosary.
Only I will be able to help you . . .
In the end My Immaculate Heart will triumph.”
Our Lady at Fatima
It’s October 1st! Can you believe it? Time to change out the cheery spring welcome sign on my front door for a more reserved (though hopefully no less welcoming) fall wreath.
The Church devotes October to the Rosary – yep a WHOLE MONTH. The Feast of the Holy Rosary is on October 7th. Well this month on CAPC we’re gonna try to help you folks bring this great Church devotion into your homes, the domestic church. We’ll be bringing you great essays, links to websites and books, and daily quotes all about the Rosary and how to make it matter more and work better in your family.
Perhaps you’re skeptical.
Perhaps you’ve tried praying the Rosary with your kids and they’ve either whipped the beads around their necks like a hula-hoop or asked incessantly, “Why are we doing this?”
Let’s be honest. Perhaps you’ve even asked yourself while praying the Rosary, Why are we doing this? . . . What am I making for dinner? . . . I hope the phone rings . . . Why is that sock under the t.v.? . . . Is that the phone? . . . I think I have an eye infection . . . Um, why are we doing this? (Trust me, I know these wandering wonderings from personal experience . . . )
Well, we don’t promise to be the answer to all your Rosary praying problems and party poopers, but hopefully we can shed some light on why this devotion is by far the most popular among the faithful. In fact, it was John Paul II’s favorite prayer. If you’ve never prayed the Rosary, why not start on October 7th, the official feast of the devotion?
First, for those of you who are new to the Church or who didn’t grow up with the Rosary, it is a series of prayers (primarily the Our Father and the Hail Mary) using prayer beads. After each prayer, we move on to the next bead and the next prayer. Kids seem to like the Rosary because they know most of the prayers and they like feeling the prayer beads.
There are 4 sets of prayers called Mysteries which focus on some aspect of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and glory. So the point isn’t just to say the prayers; we also meditate on these moments in salvation history. This is why John Paul II said, “The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety.”
Second, if you want to try praying the Rosary with your family, just start. You don’t have to do it perfectly or resemble a gathering of monks. Just grab a Rosary and gather your kiddlies. If you don’t know the prayers or the format there are tons of books and resources. The Rosary Center has a good on-line tutorial on how to pray the Rosary. Here are some of my family’s favorite Rosary books:
I Pray the Rosary by Margaret Rose Scarfi. For littlies.
A Child’s Guide to the Rosary by Elizabeth Fiocelle. For middlies.
Amazing Love: Rosary Meditations for Teens by Mari Seaburg. For biggies.
The Essential Rosary by Caryll Houselander. For biggies. This is the Rosary companion I purchased in a tiny book store in Oxford when I first returned to the Church and it’s still my favorite guide!
Dealing with Little Ones
What if you have a bunch of itty bitty kids who can’t pray the whole Rosary, which consists of five decades of prayers? You can pray one decade if that works best for your situation. Announce the Mystery, begin with the Our Father, pray your 10 Hail Mary’s, end with the Glory Be and O My Jesus. At this age, just focus on the spirit of the prayer and give the kids lots of visual and tactile aids (and tender, patient love). Check out this awesome “Rosary Board” from Lacy at Catholic Icing.
A friend of mine made Lacy’s board with her daughter and it turned out beautifully. Giving small kids large wooden or plastic Rosaries is also a great idea. My small kids tend to break the delicate Rosaries I purchase at our Catholic book store. Be reasonable with expectations with small children: make Rosary prayer time enjoyable; stop when they’ve have enough. Ensure they have positive associations about praying with the family.
If your family loves praying the Rosary, please consider sharing your ideas with the rest of us in a comment or a guest post! We’d love to hear from you!