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How did you get started with the Rosary? CHNetwork Community Question

October 2, 2017 6 Comments

October is the month on the Church’s calendar dedicated to the Holy Rosary, and for those who didn’t grow up with it, it’s a devotion that can be confusing, or even intimidating.  This week, we’re asking our members- especially those who are converts to Catholicism-  to share how they familiarized themselves with this form of meditative prayer.  Hopefully, sharing your own experiences will help those new to the rosary to understand how to incorporate it into their prayer lives.  So here’s the question:

How did you get started with the Rosary?  What helped you learn how to pray it?  What did you discover as you began to warm up to the devotion?

Here’s what some of our members and readers had to say:

*****

As a convert from Evangelicalism, I got started praying the rosary by first asking God’s forgiveness if it was a sin! It’s difficult for cradle Catholics or those who converted from more traditional Protestant denominations to appreciate how difficult it can be for those used to equating prayer with worship to say those first few Hail Marys. It took some time to appreciate the strong scriptural connections the words of the rosary contain. Since then, it’s become more natural, especially as I learn to better meditate on the mysteries rather than focus on what can feel like ‘vain repetition.’ May God use these prayers to bring more people to Christ through his holy mother!

– Douglas Beaumont, editor, “Evangelical Exodus

*****

I had just started RCIA when Rosarium Virginis Mariae came out. So one evening that fall I figured it was time to give it a try. Sat down at my kitchen table, lit a candle, said a quick prayer of apology for how awkward this was going to be, and started with the Luminous Mysteries – figuring everyone was more or less equally new at those. For a while it did feel like trying to rub your belly and pat your head at the same time. But it didn’t take too long to get the impression of Mary sitting next to me and pointing, ‘Do you see my Son the day He was born? Do you see Him risen from the dead?’

Rebecca W., via Facebook

*****

When I came into the Church, I was unsure of how to develop a relationship with Mary and the Saints.  I came to a point where I had to stop reading about Mary and just start talking to her. It was really awkward!  I began to speak with her as to a friend and Mother.

I began praying the Rosary regularly. I knew that I didn’t want to quickly recite the words. I wanted to really connect with Our Lady and meditate on the mysteries. I found a book that taught me how to pray the Rosary with Scripture to help keep me focused on each mystery. I found that it not only helped me connect with Mary but, primarily led me closer to Christ. I’m so grateful for our Blessed Mother and that Jesus gave her to us.

Rachelle Mountjoy Parker, From the Churches of Christ to the One Church

*****

In college, I was an Evangelical Protestant with a Catholic roommate. Through a lot of arguing and debates, I had intellectually accepted much of Catholicism, but had no desire to convert.

Then one Sunday, I decided to pray the Rosary each day for a week, ‘to see what happens.’ So I grabbed one of my roommate’s cheap plastic rosaries he kept around, along with a ‘How to Pray the Rosary’ booklet he conspicuously kept out on his desk. I prayed the Rosary on Sunday, on Monday, on Tuesday…and then decided to convert to Catholicism!

I tell my roommate that he had three years of trying to convert me without success, but it only took Our Blessed Mother three days!

Eric Sammons, author, The Old Evangelization

*****

When I first met my wife, she prayed the rosary a lot. While I was taking RCIA & even afterwards I used to dread praying it because it took so long. I would be filled with anxiety for it to be over. I asked God for a peace in my heart not to ever want it to be over but just to embrace its length and appreciate its purpose. While I was engaged and living with my father and grandmother I got introduced to EWTN and I realized I could just pray along. The first time I tried it my dad prayed with me, and every night I had it on TV he prayed with me. Jesus has always redirected me to his mother. They are in sync.

Melvin Windley, AKA Rabelz the MC, Catholic rapper

*****

I started praying just a decade of the Rosary at first when I was just journeying towards the Church. Then, a friend asked me to join a group which was committed to praying two Rosaries a week for the people of Syria and Iraq. I had joined a parish committee by that point which was in the process of supporting 9 Syrian Catholics as we sponsored them for the immigration process. Then, for the 100th anniversary of Fatima, our Bishop asked us to pray a Rosary every day for peace. I haven’t quite worked up to every day, but probably 4-5 days a week, I do just that as I drive back and forth from work.

Jennie Fraser, CHNetwork Community Forum Moderator

*****

I started praying the Rosary when I was in RCIA not because I was initially attracted to it, but because it was a common Catholic practice that I wanted to learn as I became Catholic. It was so complicated at first with so many prayers to memorize! But just once and you’ve prayed 53 Hail Marys… so really (except for maybe the Creed) you’ll memorize them quickly! I appreciated having the option to pray prayers that were handed on rather than needing to make up my own words. And it helped me to begin a life of devotion to Mary our Mother!

Fr. Brandon Bigam, Diocese of Lexington

*****

The first time I heard the rosary being prayed was very early in my conversion. I listened to Catholic radio for the apologetics but each night they would put on a track of the rosary and I would get legitimately upset because to me, at the time, it was of course Marian worship and repetitive. However, over time, as I wanted to become Catholic, I began to want the rosary more and more. As my Catholic Faith grew, so did my love of the rosary. And now as a Lay Dominican it is always on my mind and lips.

Shaun McAfee, founder, EpicPew.com

*****

When I joined RCIA, and my Mary questions were put to rest, our instructor gave me a hand-knotted rosary. At my confirmation, I acquired several more in many different styles and colors. Praying the rosary helped me through the difficult transition of separating from the church we left. I prayed it at adoration and in the week leading up to confirmation, meditating on the mysteries surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection. I have found such peace in the rosary. And writing this is a great reminder to pray it more often!

Lorelei Savaryn, This Catholic Family

*****

I lost my mother about 3 years ago. I had attended a Catholic college, but was not a convert at that time. I did not grow up in any church. I worked a temp job recycling trash and one day, I found a packaged Rosary with a St Therese prayer card in it. I missed my mom so much that I started praying the Hail Mary. I didn’t know how to pray the Rosary yet. Then I attended the local Parish and my heart melted at Holy Communion. I was given more information about the Rosary from my sponsor at the parish. I love the Rosary now.

Vanessa I., via Facebook

*****

Believe it or not, I started praying the rosary about a year before I ever started going to Mass. It seemed simple, accessible, and private, which was helpful for me, because at that point, my interest in Catholicism was itself private.

A lot of people had major Marian hangups on their journey into the Church. Mine weren’t that big, and I have to say that encountering the rosary on my way towards Catholicism was part of the reason I was able to understand Mary’s role in salvation history so easily. Praying the scriptures, and envisioning what Mary must have been doing during each of those 20 mysteries, really helped me to see her as a fellow Christian- a lover of Jesus who wants everyone to know him and experience him.

Matt Swaim, Communications Coordinator, The Coming Home Network

*****

I started praying it during my conversion. It was such a blessing, meditating on the life of Jesus through the eyes of his Mother. At first I prayed it once a week. Then I made it my goal to pray it everyday (I fell short many times, but the intention was there!). Back in August, I had severe depression, and I immediately went to the rosary. It completely lifted me out of it, and the Divine Mercy chaplet afterwards was the coup de grace for my depression. It was totally gone. Ave Maria!

Kristen S., via Facebook

*****

I received my first rosary from a Catholic friend along with some of Scott Hahn’s books. It sat on my shelf for the better part of a year. As I was praying in my office one day for God to help me overcome temptation, I heard, very clearly, God tell me to talk to my mother. At first I dismissed this response and kept praying, but it became clear that God wanted me to ask His Mother for her intercession. I made God a deal – if he agreed not to strike me with lightening, I would pray the Rosary. It was an incredibly peaceful experience as I meditated on the life of Jesus and the temptation passed. And yes, I had no idea how to tell people that I was a baptist that regularly prayed the Rosary after that.

Adam Janke, St. Paul Street Evangelization

*****

How did you get started with the Rosary? Or if you haven’t started yet, what kind of help are you looking for?  Please share in the comments below!

 

 

  • sharon w

    For years I was an avid Catholic reader: Nouwen, Merton, etc., and although I was Protestant, I spent many days at a Catholic retreat center in silence, solitude, and prayer. Eventually, there developed a sincere desire to become Catholic. For my birthday one year, I received a Rosary from a Catholic neighbor who knew of my interest in the Catholic church.

    I looked up instructions online on how to use it. I also watched Mother Angelica’s broadcast on EWTN and prayed along with her and the sisters. Even though I learned “how” I couldn’t really understand “why” and felt very uncomfortable doing it. I was Protestant and it was very Catholic!

    Finally, after years of indecision, I was confirmed on my 69th birthday. After becoming Catholic, I sincerely wanted to do Catholic things, so I took up my beads and began. At first I got kind of bored and sleepy. Eventually, as it became more natural, I began to add an intention to center on. While doing so, Our Lady has given me mental pictures which I cherish and call to mind when I need encouragement. For example, one day as I was praying for my grandson who has wandered from the church and lost his faith, I asked her to bring him home. I began to picture him standing next to her with her left arm around him. It was so clearly visible in my mind’s eye that all I could do was express praise and thanksgiving. Then suddenly, without any effort on my part, Jesus moved into the picture and she put her right arm around Him. There she stood holding my grandson on one side and Jesus on the other. She said to me, “Your grandson will be reunited with my Son.” Oh, the comfort and encouragement this gave me. Now every time I see my grandson, or even think of him, that mental image comes to me and I can only smile because I know, in my “knower,” that it will be. I could give many more examples, but let it suffice to say that I have received many graces from praying the Rosary and it is a very sweet, special devotion.

  • John Sposato

    The incident that turned things around for me was re-encountering a narrative of one of the Blessed Mother’s apparitions — it might have been Fatima, but I don’t recall — that put her request to pray the Rosary in a way that spoke to my heart. I suddenly realized that my heavenly Mother was directly asking me and all of us to pray this prayer, and I wondered to myself, “How do I turn down a request from my mother?

    The answer that came back to me was short and simple: I can’t.

    As a cradle Catholic, I also knew that devotion to Mary is always directed ultimately toward Jesus. Mary’s “job,” if you will, is to lead all her children — you and me — to a more intimate relationship with her son, Jesus. I began to understand that Mary’s request to pray the Rosary would draw me to her, and she in turn would point me to her divine Son. The mysteries that I would contemplate were sort of a repeating lesson on Scripture and on keys incidents in the life of my Redeemer. In short, this prayer is exactly what I needed if I wanted to grow in holiness and in knowledge of my Lord.

    The discipline necessary to start saying the Rosay everyday didn’t happen overnight, and there are still days when I miss. But the second thing that helped me get started and has kept me largely faithful to this devotion was the realization that I don’t have to say the entire Rosary in one sitting. I am a person who is not good with repetition, so sitting through 50+ Hail Mary’s, a handful of Our Fathers, and assorted other prayers said over and over in one session was extraordinarily difficult for me to accept and to do. So, in the beginning I hesitated. But when I realized I could say a portion of the Rosary at various points throughout the day, the obstacle to praying it didn’t seem nearly so great. So I started saying it in “shifts.”

    I also encountered some very strong Catholics who said the Rosary in the car. Some reported that it made them more gentle drivers, and that they often prayed for other drivers who irritated them rather than having the urge to roll down the window and yell. Having a half-hour commute to work each way gave me plenty of opportunity to get through several decades before I got home at the end of day. Typically, this left me with one or two decades, which I would try to finish at night, typically an hour or so before I went to bed.

    Books and various websites gave me material on which to base my meditations as I prayed the various mysteries. This helped me to keep my mind focused on praying and not on the problems of that particular day, or reasons why my favorite team lost another baseball game, or what I was going to make for dinner that night. My mind still wandered, but I managed to keep it on point much more regularly when I had a “bullet list” of meditation material I could pull up from memory as I prayed in the car or wherever.

    The old Nike slogan is helpful here. If you want to get serious about saying the Rosary, you have to make up your mind to “just do it.” If you’re not up to an entire Rosary, get in the habit of saying one or two decades each day. As you warm-up to the beauty of this prayer, you might begin to discover that you want to say more decades or even the complete Rosary.

    My advice: Just go for it and do it. Do it now. The graces waiting for you are too good to pass up.

  • Danny Collier

    I was received into the Catholic Church on September 10, 2017. Spending most of my life in Baptist then Presbyterian churches, authority was one of the keys the Lord used to open my eyes. Once I saw the truth of the Church, even before my Confirmation, I dove in headlong. That included learning to pray the Rosary. Since August 21, 2017, I have been praying it daily.

    It is nothing like I would have imagined.  There is no burden or drudgery or mindless repetition.  I have found it to be refreshing and intense and insightful.  I have my ordinary prayers, and then incorporate or fold them into the petitions and meditations of the Rosary.  

    I am not inclined to stop. As a deep-rooted former Protestant, I can say there is no “Mary worship” in it at all.  I recall many, many years ago checking out the Church, then turning back because of some Marian difficulty. It is all quite amazing. Now, coming to the Mother of my Lord, I find that I have drawn nearer to Him. Jesus, whom I have known as so real for so long, has become more real, more present, more beautiful.

    The Lord used authority to lead me into the Church. There was so much good evidence. Then, diving right in, the Rosary became more proof, but in a personal way. This is evidence one could never know by merely looking in through the windows, so to speak.

  • In college, I was an Evangelical Protestant with a Catholic roommate. Through a lot of arguing and debates, I had intellectually accepted much of Catholicism, but had no desire to convert.

    Then one Sunday, I decided to pray the Rosary each day for a week, “to see what happens.” So I grabbed one of my roommate’s cheap plastic rosaries he kept around, along with a “How to Pray the Rosary” booklet he conspicuously kept out on his desk. I pray the Rosary on Sunday, on Monday, on Tuesday…and then decided to convert to Catholicism!

    I tell my roommate that he had three years of trying to convert me without success, but it only took Our Blessed Mother three days!

  • E-Truth

    When I was Muslim, we had a practice of prayer called dhikr, wherein one repeats and meditates on the 99 Most Beautiful Names/Attributes of God, using a string of beads that resembles something of an Eastern Orthodox/Catholic chotki (prayer rope) – it had beads and sometimes a tassel.

    When I left Islam for Protestantism, the practice of rote/repetitive prayers was largely discouraged; instead, I strove to pray spontaneously, with anything else being thought of as “dead,” “vain repetitions,” etc.

    By God’s grace, I was led *back* to the fullness of the Christian life – I was baptized Catholic as a baby – and it wasn’t long before I developed what seemed to be a very simultaneously natural and supernatural desire to draw closer to the Holy Trinity through my Blessed Mother. A good friend taught me how to pray it, and I followed along with audio and video helps.

    I’m not very good at being consistent, but I can truly say that by grace, I have been praying the Rosary practically every single day since 2015, sometimes multiple times a day. I have seen miracles through the intercession of Mary in the life of a dear friend, who left communion with Rome, and is now returning with his whole family!

    Never doubt the power of Mary! Whatever she has, she has from, in, with, and through our God.

    Ad Jesum per Mariam!

    Dustin Quick aka E-Truth

  • lorraine shelstad

    I had just returned from fourteen years of missionary work in Thailand with an evangelical organization and was studying at university. A Catholic in my classes, invited me to a Rosary Group that he and a student from Malaysia had just started. The Rosary was new to me but I soon learned to pray it. I grew to love the group of young people (all younger than I was) and their acceptance of me. I didn’t feel that it was wrong to pray the Rosary but it took some time for me to learn that Mary always leads us to Jesus. After a year, I began RCIA and came into full communion with the Catholic Church in 1991.
    Lorraine Shelstad, author of “Betel Nut In My Roses’