Rosaries for Diocesan Convention
This year at the Convention of the Diocese of Pennsylvania, I and some helpers distributed about 500 rosaries to all the delegates. Some of you may have noticed that our Diocese has been having a few little troubles these last few years, and they are not over yet. So I wanted to make a small gesture (no not that one!) to try and say that if we prayed more and argued less, great things might happen.
I know that the Rosary is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is mine, and I also included a little card in each pack, giving my reasons for commending it. This is the substance of it:
“The Rosary is an aid to meditation: it keeps the hands and the imagination busy, so that the spirit can be freed to contemplate the mysteries and truths of our Christian Faith.
“It can be used in many ways, but the simplest is to name the Mystery (the Subject) and then to name some person or concern for which you will offer it. Then begin t o recite the prescribed prayers: the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory be.
“Sometimes your mind will dwell on the Mystery, sometimes more on the person or cause for which it is being offered. Often they get mixed up or intertwined, but that is no bad thing. How often I have recited the Mystery of the Crucifixion for a person in great sorrow or pain; how often the Mystery of the Resurrection in thanksgiving for new life, (whether in a baby or a person who has died, or in a congregation); or the Marriage in Cana for a newly married couple.
“So how do you use this chaplet of beads? Easy!
“If you wish, you can begin with a short preparation by holding the Cross while saying the Apostles Creed; then the Our Father on the single bead; then three Hail Marys on the next three beads, finishing with the Glory be on the bit of chain after these beads.
“Or you can go straight to the recitation of the Mysteries. There are twenty of them, and each consists of the Our Father on the single (and sometimes larger) bead, and the Hail Mary on each of the ten following beads, and then the Glory be on the bit of chain following.
“If you prayed all twenty at once, that would take you round the Rosary four times (and might leave you a bit giddy!) It is probably better to take just one group of five Mysteries at a time – though there is nothing to stop you saying just a single Mystery.”
(Then I gave the names of the twenty Mysteries and printed out the three prayers and the Salve Regina.)
“If this sounds complicated, it is not! The Rosary is infinitely adaptable, and you can use it in many different ways. Its great advantage is that it can lie in your pocket and be held or used at any time. Or you can take it out in church and let the beads slip quietly through your fingers as your spirit reaches out to the God who loves you.
“We are human beings, not bodiless spirits, and the sense of touch is often neglected in our “spiritual lives”. Even in our normal day-to-day lives we need more “body English”: a hug or or a kiss or a hand-clasp can mean more to someone in need than a sermon. And in the same sort of way, the touch of the beads can (with a little practice, admittedly!) turn our thoughts to our Father, his Son, the Holy Spirit, blessed Mary and all the saints, and then we can tackle anything life has in store for us, not alone, but with their help.
“The Rosary may not suit all of us, but a multitude can testify to the help it has given them on the way of prayer – and then loving action.
“You may be told that the Rosary is what the Bible calls “vain repetition”. Well, repetition it certainly is – but vain? Does a lover ever stop saying “I love you” over and over again? Is that vain repetition? When we use the Rosary, we join in the great stream of prayer sent up by the church over the centuries and over the world, which God uses to save that world. But first, he uses it to change us!
“So please try it out. It comes from St Clement’s with our love and God’s!”
I have been astonished since then by how many letters, e-mails and phone calls I have had, thanking us for doing this. No doubt some just put the rosary aside, but who knows how many have begun to find it a fresh approach to prayer? Maybe I should load the car with a few thousand rosaries and take off for General Convention!