Thursday, October 13, 2011
Speed Bumps and Other Helps
Yesterday I posted highlights from Fr. Wade Menezes talk on the Blessed Mother from the Gazing on the Face of Jesus with Mary conference sponsored by the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate. Today I am giving Dr. Edward Sri his due. His talk was so engaging and uplifting-really most enjoyable! If you are ever offered the opportunity to hear him speak, I recommend that you do!
Some people consider praying the rosary to be as easy as saying your ABC's but others say it is difficult to pray it without a wandering mind. Some look at the rosary as a difficult chore and pray it just to "get it over with and check it off the to-do list," and for others every decade seems to last ten years, or they are so busy all day that when they finally sit down to pray the rosary, they fall asleep. But we should never walk away from praying the rosary feeling discouraged or defeated. Simply pulling out the beads and praying is giving something beautiful to God. St. Thomas Aquinas said that just the intention to pray is in itself the beginning of prayer.
If we pray the rosary and go to Mass and it doesn't go well and we're distracted, God sees the intent of our heart and He loves us for it. We should remember that the only one who wants us to be discouraged is the devil. But we do want to get better at prayer. Sometimes it's helpful to focus on meditating upon the mystery of each decade and at other times we want to focus on the words of the Hail Mary prayers. In either case the Lord will take whatever we give Him.
People may criticize the rosary as vain repetition. Jesus himself repeated his prayers in the Garden of Gethsemane when he prayed "Father, not my will but your will" three times. Repetition is the language of love. Every couple repeats "I love you" and they don't sigh and say "Could you come up with something more original?"
When we pray the words of the Hail Mary we are joining in the joy of heaven with Gabriel and the joy of earth with Elizabeth who first uttered these words of prayer. Gabriel who knew God in heaven from all of eternity is in awe over the mystery of the incarnation. And how does Elizabeth know that Mary is pregnant? It's through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit which gave her prophetic insight. So the first half of the Hail Mary prayer is all about praising God-praising Jesus. The second half of the prayer, the Holy Mary, is simply asking her to pray for us. But it's the center of the Hail Mary prayer, the hinge, where we find the Holy Name of Jesus. We should treat his name in this prayer like a speed bump, that is, slow down and speak his name with reverence and love.