How many millions of miles rosary beads have travelled through troubled fingers only God and his Mother know. How many miracles of grace it has worked in the lives of those who were faithful to this devotion, it must keep the angels busy to record. How many times it has pulled back from the gates of hell some wayward soul who perhaps has no other devotion, we shall have to wait for heaven to discover.
The vocal prayers of the rosary are repeated over and over, perhaps because we are all children at heart and children love to ask the same thing over and over of a loving mother. Some have found in this a point to criticise; they have never sounded to its depths this prayer that is so dear to Mary. There are times in all our lives when, faced with pain or sorrow, our very thoughts seem to stop; in such paralysing moments the only prayers that will come to our lips are those we have said since childhood: the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be. It is a natural thing that a stricken child should call upon its mother for help; so it is that we grope for our rosary in the darkness of tragedy or temptation. And our Lady does not fail to help: she is a careful mother. Paradoxically, though the rosary is limited to so few prayers said vocally, its possibilities for mental prayer have almost no limits at all. The greatest of mystics and scholars have lost themselves in the depths of the mysteries presented by these scenes of the incarnation, death and resurrection of the Redeemer. The wings for soaring are to be found in any of the mysteries. In the measure in which we can detach ourselves from earth, poor mortals that we are, we are allowed to fly to God.
Throughout the troubled centuries since Dominic first preached the rosary, it has been a lifeline to heaven for millions of souls. Through the terrors of persecution in country after country, Christians who dared not convene for prayers, who were denied the Mass because all their priests had been killed, whispered in secret the prayer of the rosary. In this way the faith has been preserved, sometimes for centuries.
Even today, many a Catholic struck down by accident or sudden illness owes the grace of receiving the last sacraments to the fact that he carries a rosary in his pocket. For that is an unmistakable sign that he is one who has a claim upon the Mother of God; he will have an intercessor to stand beside him at the throne of God. After a lifetime of saying over and over, “Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death”, one could expect nothing else.
This article first appeared in the October 2021 issue of the Catholic Herald. Subscribe today.
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