Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. It commemorates a naval victory against Muslim Turks at Lepanto (off the coast of Greece) in 1571 thus sparing Christendom in Europe. “Pope St. Pius V attributed the victory to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was invoked on the day of the battle through a campaign to pray the Rosary throughout Europe.” See the rest of the CNA article on this event here.
The rosary is a powerful prayer. It begins with a the Sign of the Cross and a profession of faith, the Apostles’ Creed, continues with an Our Father, three Hail Marys, followed by a Glory Be. Each decade then begins with an Our Father, then ten Hail Marys, closing with a Glory Be (and optionally the Fatima Prayer). Five decades complete a particular set of mysteries, while twenty decades complete all the mysteries (Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, and Luminous). A handy one page visual of how to pray the rosary can be found here.
If you are not in the habit of praying the rosary, I strongly encourage you to find the time to do so. If you do not know it or remember it, the handout just mentioned and a rosary is all you need to begin (the latter is available in any religious goods store or your local Catholic parish — I hope). If you prefer to say it with a recording, it is available several times a day on EWTN (you DO know where it is on your cable/satellite, no?), on the internet, local Catholic radio if it is in your town or Catholic radio on the internet, Good CDs/downloads of the rosary are also common and can be used in your car, while walking, or when exercising.
There is always time for prayer. Turn off that second hour of news in the evening and take just a quarter of that time to say five decades. Take a twenty minute walk to the store instead of a five minute drive — you’ll be healthier spiritually and physically. Keep the CD in your player in the car so you can recite along with it when driving to and from work, or when running errands. Who knows, maybe you can encourage any passengers to join you. A great way to start the day, maybe a CD alarm clock or a DVR’d rosary is the best way for you.
And please do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Do not feel that if the conditions are not ideal, or if distractions are piling up, or if you are unable to concentrate that you should give up or never start. That is the devil at work. Turn the distractions and anxieties into intentions (it is always good to have a special intention for which the rosary is being offered). While we should strive to grow ever better in conversation with God, He will meet us where we are at and help us to grow in our spiritual life. Just do it and persevere. If you miss a day, just start up again the next. If something pulls you away in the middle then try to get back to it later in the day. If you cannot, know that the three decades, or three Hail Marys, have not gone to waste.
If you are a reader, and need some encouragement, start with St; Louis de Montfort’s edifying and inspiring Secret of the Rosary.
Finally, if you find yourself objecting to this prayer, or others are doing that for you, be assured that by honoring Mary you are honoring her Father, her Son, and her Spouse (the Holy Spirit). Read here to be comforted and strengthened in your resolve; pass it along to help those who find the rosary problematic to understand the Catholic approach to Mary.
May God bless you and Mary, Queen of the Rosary, assist you.