Stirrings of the Spirit

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A bouquet of prayers

The Rosary is a prayer that I grew up with.  We used to pray it as a family every night.  My sister and I had a roster of whose turn it was to lead each night.  We weren’t always fans of saying it, and we quite often tried to get out of it, or rush our way through it so that we could start our evening of TV watching.  My dad always insisted that we would pray it, and we’d usually comply. 

At some point, I became aware that this family Rosary time wasn’t exactly ‘normal’.  If friends came over for dinner or to sleep over, we still had to say the Rosary, which would be an interesting and new experience for them, that usually painted an image of my family as ultra-religious.  There was a joke in my class that I bathed in holy water.

During High School Religion classes, people sometimes asked questions about the Rosary, that not even the teachers could answer, that I knew the answer to.  It seems that the prayer so popular in my parents era had slowly faded out into obscurity.  I’m not a regular Rosary prayer now, but some people see me as some sort of Rosary ‘expert’ due to my past experiences. 

For those of you who aren’t aware, the Rosary is an ancient prayer that started with the monks praying the 150 psalms.  Locals were enchanted with this form of prayer, but it was difficult for them to learn the pslams as there weren’t many printed copies and not everyone could read, as well as being quite lengthy to remember.  The people would replace this with 150 Lord’s prayers, using a pouch of 150 pebbles to keep count.  For practical reasons, some people changed to a string of 150 knots.  Over time, the Rosary evolved into what we have today.  The Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries were developed to use as a reflection on different parts of the life of Jesus.  in more recent times, Pope John Paul II also added the Luminous Mysteries. 

I was recently asked to do a workshop on the Rosary at a gathering of young people.  I agreed to it, but I didn’t think anyone would be very interested in it.  One person immediately expressed interest as soon as she heard about it.  When it came time to sign up to the workshops, I was surprised at how eager people were to sign up to the Rosary workshop, especially considering the much more popular people leading the other workshops.  I got concerned when a nun signed up for my group.  I was worried that maybe i didn’t have enough experience, and i wasn’t sure why I would be asked to run the workshop when it seemed there was a spare nun around who could do it.  Apart from the nun, everyone else in the workshop had never prayed the Rosary before.  some of them owned Rosary beads, as it was a typically Catholic thing to be associated with, but none of them had ever used it. I explained the history of it, the prayers used and the order of the prayers before praying five decades together as a group. 

I was grateful to have the nun with us as she shared her own experiences of growing up praying the Rosary with her family.  She told how her family would go to the movies every fortnight, and all the kids would sit in the back of the utility, and have to yell out their responses very loudly so their parents could hear them.  I imagine it would be quite a site for those they passed in traffic.  She said that it was a very special moment for her, after her life time of Rosaries, to pray it with a group of people saying it for the first time. 

At the end of the day, people were asked to share their highlights of the day, and quite a few people explained that learning the Rosary was something very important to them.  One young woman explained how she had always seen her grandmother praying it, and now she had felt she could share that with her.  I got another email on the weekend from another girl who had participated in the workshops saying that she had started a Rosary prayer group at her school.  It seems that young people have a huge desire for this style of prayer. 

I claim that I’m surprised by it, but a couple of years ago, I had a similar experience. The group I went with to World Youth Day in Sydney 2008 were always very excited to pray the Rosary together.  One night, one of the girls in the group decided to listen through the adjoining door, to hear what boys talk about when girls aren’t around, and was taken aback to hear them praying the Rosary.  On returning from World Youth Day, some of the group had started praying it together.  One of the guys stated he was really excited that the Rosary wasn’t just a prayer for people like his Grandmother and her friends. 

The Rosary is a great comfort to me when I want to pray but don’t know what to say specifically.  Its also a great way to connect with others in prayer.  It seems that young people have a strong desire for this format, and its been dismissed for far too long as being ‘old-fashioned’ or ‘too traditional’.  Young people obviously long for all styles of prayer, but the Rosary is something that has stood the test of time, so maybe we should give it some more credit. 

If you are interested in learning the Rosary yourself, or helping someone else to learn, here is a great resource to use. 

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September 7, 2010 - Posted by | Prayer, Spirituality | ,

2 Comments »

  1. What an incredible story!

    I think that it is quite sad that so many people are so unfamiliar with the rosary. It isn’t a devotion that “clicks” with me, but it offers so much and I completely agree that “Young people obviously long for all styles of prayer, but the Rosary is something that has stood the test of time, so maybe we should give it some more credit.”

    Comment by Rae | September 18, 2010 | Reply

  2. The rosary is the book of the blind where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known it is the book of the simple which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men it is the book of the aged whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world and open on the substance of the next. The rosary has a rich and long history in the Church and is a powerful prayer for peace in our world.

    Comment by monex.com | December 21, 2010 | Reply


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