Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
One of the most common questions I’m asked as a priest is, ‘how does one begin to pray’. Starting to pray can be a challenge because it is outside our normal every day life. We somehow think every time we pray there should be some sign or mystical experience. But, the struggle to pray is more practical than that. As anyone who tries to pray knows, the hardest thing about prayer is just finding the will to do it. It can be very hard to quiet oneself and focus for a few minutes.
As many of you know this month is dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary. I think the Rosary is one of the best introductions to prayer. It’s an incredibly popular prayer that’s easy to pick up and even to pray as a group. So, if you have not prayed the Rosary, this might be a good time to start. On one level it’s a vocal prayer, so everything that you say is set. You do not have to worry about coming up with something to say. But, even more deeply, it’s a mental prayer through which you can focus on the life of Christ. Every Mystery of the Rosary is about Christ and trying to see Christ through the eyes of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Furthermore, it’s a flexible prayer that can be just as easily followed along with even the largest of crowds. Lastly, it’s a powerful prayer recommended by saints. Many people have been spiritually helped by it.
In my own life, I do not know if I would have ever become Catholic if it were not for the Rosary. In college, I was convinced to try praying it with some friends of mine. A few nights a week, we would gather in the student lounge and just pray. It was a chance to catch up with people as well and I felt great camaraderie during this time. But, even more importantly, I began to understand why Catholics love Mary: She reminds us of Christ’s presence on earth. He was a real person with real relationships. He did not just appear from the heavens. But, instead, He has a mother. By praying through her we learn to love as she does and no one else could love Christ more. If you do not know how to pray the Rosary, I’m sure you know someone who does and they will be glad to teach you.
If you do know how to pray the rosary, then please dedicate yourself to it and invite others to pray it. It’s a wonderful prayer and I’m sure Our Lady will grant you many graces if you invite her into your home.