Lent is upon us and along with it comes much advice from spiritual writers about how best to keep it. I don’t see myself as a “spiritual writer” as much as a “writer about spiritual books”. There is a difference. If I can point a reader towards a book I think they may find helpful, then the exercise is worthwhile. On this note, and for those who find praying the Rosary hard work and who would like some guidance, I recommend Fr Dwight Longenecker’s book, Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing (published by Our Sunday Visitor).
Longenecker, a popular blogger and priest in the diocese of Charleston, South Carolina, also has a healing ministry; he accompanies, prays with and offers Mass for people who come to him with deep-rooted wounds which have stunted their spiritual growth. His book is an encouragement to pray the Rosary, entering into all the key moments and events of Jesus’s life that we know from the Gospels, while at the same time praying for healing from those wounds in one’s life that continue to fester.
The author, who began as an Anglican minister before converting to Catholicism, discovered the Rosary himself while still an Anglican. His spiritual world had come crashing down and he felt in the dark. It was an elderly Catholic priest who encouraged him to say the Rosary – and he found it changed everything.
His book includes many personal stories and anecdotes of people who have come to him for healing. He reminds them that Jesus is the supreme healer; that healing us was His mission on earth and is His mission today. He notes that it is “almost impossible to come through childhood without some kind of trauma or injury that has lasting effects throughout the rest of our lives.” Whether physical, mental, emotional or other kinds of abuse and despite the best efforts of good parents, we all emerge as adults in need of the transformative touch of Christ.
Longenecker is convinced that “by entering into the wholeness of each stage of Jesus’ life [through the Rosary] we begin to share in his wholeness and health.” Christ, he reminds us, is “total and utter reality – so if we lose touch with him, we lose touch with reality.” This is why Our Lady, in her apparitions, is seen praying the Rosary and urging people to be faithful to this devotion; she knows that saying it regularly, while recollecting the particular Mysteries – the stages of her Son’s earthly life – is the sure-fire way to come to know, love and follow him.
Longenecker reflects that “All the world’s ills have the same root: self-centredness. Most of the world’s ills have the same cure: self-sacrifice” – in other words, learning to imitate Christ’s own self-sacrificial life. Who better than Our Lady to lead us to Christ through the Rosary this Lent?