Have you ever sat down to pray the Rosary only to find that your mind drifts off in all directions and stubbornly refuses to come back to the mystery you're supposed to be meditating on? Don't feel too bad. It's a very common problem that most people experience from time to time, even if they've made a firm commitment to pray the Rosary frequently.
There are countless sets of Rosary meditations available online or in booklet form that are designed to help you stay focused on your meditation, and many of these have proven to be quite helpful in my own prayer life. So why am I offering yet another set of Rosary meditations? How is the series that I'll be posting over the next several weeks different from what is already available?
Many, even most, Rosary meditations are quite brief and meant to be either read just before each mystery or just before each Hail Mary. They concentrate on limited aspects of the mysteries, and while they can and do stimulate meditation, they can also get a little worn out after a while because of their lack of depth.
The Rosary meditations you'll find on this blog have several rather distinctive characteristics: 1. They are longer than most meditations. 2. They provide a wealth of depth and information about each mystery. 3. They should be read as preparation before the Rosary and then consulted as necessary during the prayer to stimulate meditation and curb mind-wandering. 4. They can be used almost indefinitely because they offer so many options for profitable reflection.
Each meditation is organized in six sections:
1. Scripture quotations – I've included the primary Scriptural text or texts for each Rosary mystery. Sometimes I like to pray the Rosary with the Bible open on my lap. I read portions of the text as I pray, meditating on the words of Scripture and allowing the Word of God to speak to me directly.
2. The story in brief – A short retelling of each mystery during the Rosary prayer can sometimes stimulate fruitful meditation. As you tell yourself the story, in my words or your own, you might find that one aspect or another will strike you and lead you into an intimate conversation with God.
3. Points to ponder – This section offers at least a dozen specific points to ponder for each mystery. Each of these invites you to go deeper into the mystery and explore its details and layers of meaning. For each point, I'll give you enough to get started; then you can take it from there and let God lead you into your own personalized meditation. Don't be afraid to get creative here. God gave you your intellect and imagination for a reason. Use them well!
4. Application questions – An important part of meditation involves applying the mystery to your own life and examining what God is trying to say to you personally through it. I'll present some questions. You answer them honestly.
5. Prayer, prayer, and more prayer – The Rosary is a prayer that stimulates more prayer, endless prayer, if you open your heart and your mind. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#2626-2649) identifies five different forms of prayer: blessing and adoration, praise, thanksgiving, intercession, and petition. I'll offer a suggestion for further prayer in each of these forms. Feel free to compose your own prayers as the Holy Spirit leads you. You might even try to focus your entire meditation on a particular prayer form. I pray an intercessory Rosary once in a while during which I lift up individuals or various groups of people for each mystery. For example, during the Joyful Mystery of the Nativity, I pray for women who are about to give birth and for newborns. There are endless possibilities.
6. Quotes from the saints – In the last section, I offer several quotes from the saints that refer to each mystery. These quotes have plenty of depth to them and can probably fill a long space of meditation in themselves. Most come from St. Thomas Aquinas' Catena Aurea, which is a collection of commentary on the Gospels from the Fathers of the Church.
As you prepare for your Rosary, you can choose to focus on any of these sections, but don't try to meditate on too much at once. One or two points to ponder; a point to ponder and an application question; or one quote from a saint, for example, should be plenty for each mystery. You probably already know that ten Hail Marys can go past very quickly if you're in the midst of a good meditation. There should be enough possibilities for fruitful meditation to last a long, long time.
By this point you might be asking, “Where is all this coming from?” Well, I've been praying the Rosary daily for quite a few years, and while my mind wanders frequently, God has led me into some beautiful meditations that have drawn me closer to Him. Much of the material in this series, then, comes out of my own prayer and study. I've found it valuable in my spiritual life and want to share it with as many people as possible.
I hope and pray that these meditations, or even parts of them, will help you as you seek to enrich your Rosary prayer and meditation, curb distractions, and most importantly, grow closer and closer to God.