My dad recalls with fondness childhood memories of climbing in the car with his family to visit friends…and together they all would recite the rosary. He remembers waking up in the morning and seeing his mother sitting quietly in the dark in her special chair, clutching her beads and mouthing her prayers. He says seeing his parents pray the rosary in his childhood gave him comfort. He believes it spared him from many dangers, and perhaps most importantly that seeing his parents recite it and participating in it himself set an example for him and formed a habit that he eventually passed on to his own children. Saying the rosary was and is an integral part of his family life.
My sister’s mother-in-law was riding in their car with her husband, praying the rosary as they normally did when they traveled. After the last decade was complete, the man had a heart attack and died. His grief-stricken wife received much consolation knowing that just after the end of their prayers he was called home. She believes it was a special blessing of a happy death for him. Praying the rosary brought peace and comfort to this family upon the father’s early passing.
If a child wants a favor from his father, he will likely approach his gentle-hearted mother first. Timidly he beseeches her and makes his request. He knows that she will be an advocate for him. Likewise, when we pray the rosary, not only are we recalling through the mysteries the major events in Jesus’ life, but also we are approaching the Father through Jesus’ mother. She will be our advocate.
We need to pray the rosary. The Church-approved messages of Fatima underscore this fact. The Blessed Mother is recorded as saying at Fatima, “Pray the Rosary every day… to obtain peace in the world . . ..” (Our Lady—July 13, 1917)
A practical question remains, however: How? How do we begin? How will our family react if we saunter in from work some evening and say, “Everyone in the living room. We’re saying the rosary.”? If we haven’t been doing it up to this point, likely the announcement will be met with annoyance, procrastination, perhaps outright protest. If the children are very young, it’s easier. We might buy some colorful rosary books and illustrations from the local Catholic bookstore. After bedtime stories and regular nightly prayers when they are snuggled in, we take out the rosary, show them the appropriate picture for the mystery and begin. They may fall asleep before we are finished, perhaps with the image of a child-Christ being found in the temple permeating their half-dozing dreams.
If the children are older, perhaps teens, never having prayed the rosary as a family before, this may be more of a problem. Explaining the thought process behind starting the prayers is important. A parent just might say she’s been doing some reading and recognized the benefit of the rosary as a prayer, and that she wants to start sharing that as a family together.
Give them some books on Fatima or St. Louis de Montfort’s classic “The Secret of the Rosary”. Buy some illustrated inexpensive rosary books for everyone to follow until the mysteries are all memorized. Let each child “take” a decade to pray aloud, and let him choose the special intention for that decade. If no one wants to be singled out to come up with an intention, as a family come up with ten or twenty good ideas and write them down on slips of small paper. Place them in a bowl and allow family members to select one before they recite “their” decade. Some favorite intentions of ours include “For our Holy Father and his intentions”, “For the mental, spiritual and physical health of all members of our family”, and “for all unborn children”. Especially relevant today is prayers for the leadership in our country and for peace in the world. If the teens still protest after an explanation, remember that you, as a parent, are called to spiritually lead your children, regardless of their disapproval and perhaps rolling eyes. I promise, they’ll get used to the prayers and perhaps even grow to look forward to them.
Whether you’ve been married two months or 22 years, it’s never too early or late to start the beautiful devotion of praying the rosary together every day. Just like starting a diet, the hardest part is deciding to proceed and making time that first week while the habit is still being formed. The blessings of daily rosary recitation will blossom almost immediately. Families have reported greater peace and understanding when this prayer is said regularly. Mishaps have been averted. Miracles have happened. However, perhaps the most important reason to begin praying together is simply because the Blessed Mother has asked.
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