I am sure you know what the rosary beads are, and I am sure you carry one with you in your pocket all the time. More than the physical string of beads, the Rosary is also one of the most indulgent prayers as practiced by the Popes and passed down through many centuries. It is St. John Paul the Great’s favorite.
St. Thomas Aquinas, the great Dominican theologian, would say, “We have them on purpose. Because they bring us to God if we use them for that purpose.” I personally don’t like to just sit there and think my Hail Marys. I mean, I certainly could do that, as some people do. But I get distracted. Perhaps you have better attention than I do. But when I hold onto my rosary, it’s a constant reminder that I’m praying the Rosary, and that I need to meditate.
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The Rosary is a contemplative prayer of deep devotion. After the Third Century, the rosary beads took on different forms, and it wasn’t quite called a rosary at that point in time. But, something momentous happened in the 12th Century with St. Dominic. He had a deep Marian devotion and was a very intelligent man living during the Albegensian Heresy. He thought, “I can’t be strong enough for the world God has sent me into to bring back to God.” He would weep copious tears. He would spend his days preaching and his nights praying. He would fall asleep on the altar steps after hours of praying. But he didn’t have enough time to do both.
While he was preaching in southern France against the Albigensian Heresy, he would say in prayer, “Mary, how can I bring these people back to your Son? You know I have tried so hard. You know that I have given my life to this cause, and they don’t listen. They don’t seem to have grace. Mary, you have to help me. What can I, as your son, do for your divine Son, Christ?” The tradition of the church says that Mary appeared to him holding the Christ child in one hand and a rosary in the other. We love this. We love to tell this to little children, and you’ll see why it’s so important for all of us.
Mary said to Dominic, “With this rosary you will conquer.” She held this, and she called it a weapon. She actually said, “With this weapon you will conquer.” Remember Dominic was in the Middle Ages, the medieval times, the age of great heraldry and soldiers when your weapon was your sword.
We Dominicans wear our rosaries on our left side. Why? You might have figured it out. In the age of Dominic, the medieval soldiers wore their weapon—their swords—on their left side. This was because most were right handed and keeping it on the left allowed for quick retrieval. The same thing applies to us Dominicans and our rosary: we wear them on our left side so that we can retrieve them seamlessly and easily. As Dominicans—as lovers of the rosary—we keep that rosary with us at all times.
So, carry your rosaries. If you don’t have them as you’re watching this, get your rosaries. Be sure your rosaries are blessed by a priest. And know the power even in simply touching them. We need all the good on our side. We need the memories. We need to know how to plug into the strength of our faith. This is tangible, and it serves to remind you of something.
A bunch of beads, some chain, my particular medals of devotion, the crucifix, whatever it is, they are of value to us because they are blessed. They are a reminder, an assurance that we walk with the mantle of Mary over us, protecting us. And we walk hand-in-hand with Jesus Himself. Our lives are like other Scriptures alongside His life. We, too, are in the Old and New Testament, and we will find our way to Heaven holding these rosaries, praying these rosaries, and guiding others to know the beautiful secret that Saint Louis de Montfort called the “Secret of the Rosary.” Because he was also impassioned with the love of mother Mary.
So may we have that same devotion, that same great love. May you pray for your children, especially the ones you might worry about, on your rosary. May you pray for world leaders and world peace on your rosary. May you pray for peace in the hearts of your family, friends, as well as your own because God abides in peace. When we know He is testing us, think of the Sorrowful Mysteries. But remember, they don’t end the Rosary nor do they end the Scripture. It goes on to the Resurrection and the fact we will follow Christ from the grave into our eternity. So pray with the Rosary all the way with Mary leading you in her school of love and devotion.
Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP is a Foundress and Vocations Director for the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist. Her podcast And The Truth Shall Set You Free can be downloaded every Friday at 1:00 p.m. EST from iTunes. The podcast can be seen on YouTube at GoLEDigital.
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