As we know from Steel Magnolias, “the only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize”.”
What separates my accessories from the average gal’s is that I’m never without a rosary bracelet around my wrist.
Much like converse sneakers and the record player, the rosary is making a comeback with the cool kids these days and if it’s not part of you and your family’s routine, allow me to tell you why it should be more than a decoration for your rearview mirror or nightstand.
While its origins in Christian tradition are uncertain, many believe that the rosary was used by St. Dominic to teach the life of Christ. Centuries later this private devotion remains a great way to help children and teens commit the important moments of the Gospels to memory.
As a child, I can remember looking at pictures of the mysteries while saying the prayers. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was an introduction to meditation. Although the prayers recited are asking for the Blessed Mother’s intercession, the twenty mysteries are all about the life of Christ.
When we learn the rosary, we contemplate Christ from the perspective of the one person on earth who was closest to Him — His mother.
Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen described this as “the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known.”
Extemporaneous or off-the-cuff prayer is certainly important.
However, I’ve observed that when teens — and anyone, for that matter — are under duress, the familiar pattern of the rosary offers a great deal of comfort.
There have been so many moments, over the years, when I’ve been at a loss for words and have been grateful that I can at least contribute with a “round of the beads”.
Whether it be driving through terrifying thunderstorms or sitting in emergency rooms, in all those moments when words have ceased to be helpful, but prayerful companionship is needed, the rosary is there.
For the rosary to be prayed in the midst of a storm, it’s helpful if it’s learned in the calm.
In the Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae (“On Catechesis in Our Time”), Blessed Pope John Paul II explained that “The blossoms — if we may call them that — of faith and piety do not grow in the desert places of a memoryless catechesis…” Memorized prayers and doctrine can grow into “a source of Christian life on the personal level and on the community level” (#55).
As children buckle down to learn phonics and multiplication, it’s important to include the memorization of prayers — like the rosary — in the check-list.
Just like adding up the bill at a restaurant or grocery store can help kids see the connection between math and real life, beginning a car trip or ending dinner with a decade of the rosary can develop habits that carry into youth and adulthood.