Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary
October 7, 2021
Today, in God’s Lavish Mercy, we pray with Psalm 1, its very opening verses.
Blessed the one who follows notPsalm 1:1-3
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on God’s law day and night.
Scripture scholar James L. Mays says that the psalm’s primacy is not accidental:
The Book of Psalms begins with a beatitude. Not a prayer or a hymn, but a statement about human existence. Here at the threshold of the Psalter we are asked to consider the teaching that the way life is lived is decisive for how it turns out. This opening beatitude also serves as an introduction to the book. Its location as the first psalm is not accidental; the psalm is there to invite us to read and use the entire book as a guide to a blessed life.Psalms: Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching
Psalm 1 helps us to understand that praying the Psalter is a tool for spiritual guidance. It is not just about the people and times it mentions. It is about us and our lifelong journey with God.
In a sense the rosary, which we think about today as we pray with Mary, is a similar tool. And I’ll be honest with you, it’s a tool I didn’t appreciate until much later in my life.
Most Catholics have a history with the rosary. It’s a form of prayer we learned as children at our grandmother’s or first grade teacher’s knee. But for me as a six-year old, it was just too long. I became bored mid-second decade. I even used to cheat, drop the rosary on the floor, and pick it up a few decades further down the beads!
Of course, as a young nun, I prayed the rosary. I even wore the rosary at my hip and fingered its cool beads throughout the day. But I still didn’t appreciate or love it. Not until I was 36 years old and my father died.
My Dad lived an extremely simple, and I think holy, life. He didn’t vow it, but he practiced the evangelical counsel of poverty beautifully. He possessed very little that was his alone. When he died, almost everything important and precious to him (besides his family) could be found in the bottom drawer of our old China closet. That’s where I found his rosary on the day after his funeral.
It was cuddled in a wrinkled pouch imprinted with the phrase “My Rosary”. I smiled when I read that, thinking one didn’t really need to be reminded what was inside! But there was actually more inside than I expected.
Dad always loved the poems of James Metcalfe, published daily in the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. One little poem was folded neatly inside the pouch:
A Dad’s Prayer
Almighty Father help me be . . .
A good and loving dad . . .
That my dear children may enjoy . . .
The blessings I have had . . .
Give me the wisdom I should use . . .
To teach them right from wrong . . .
And how to keep on going when . . .
The road is rough and long . . .
To do the duty that is theirs . . .
Until its very end . . .
To look for lasting beauty and . . .
Appreciate a friend . . .
Endow me with the grace I need . . .
To mold their gentle youth . . .
According to the measurements . . .
Of loyalty and truth . . .
Enable me to comfort them . . .
Whenever they are sad . . .
And O my Father, grant that they . . .
Will always love their dad.
Every morning after I discovered Dad’s rosary, I ran the beads through my fingers, wanting in some way to touch Dad again.
I began to read about the rosary and its purpose as a means of meditation on the life of Christ. I began to pray it differently, slowly – eventually using the vocal prayers only as a rhythm underneath the thought of Jesus’s experiences.
Sometimes, rather than rushing through a decade as I had before, I couldn’t stay long enough to absorb all that Jesus or Mary chose to share with me in one of the rosary’s mysteries.
Maybe on this feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, we might renew our love, understanding,and appreciation of this beautiful means of prayer. Online, I found this guide created by the Knights of Columbus which I liked. You might find it helpful. (I didn’t check, but I think it might be printable.)
Music: Verde by Guido and Mauricio deAngelis
(One of my Dad’s favorite pieces of music.)