“What decade are we on?” I ask, as I fumble with my beads while trying to nurse my 2-month-old. “The third,” my husband replies. I try to picture the Third Joyful Mystery, the Birth of Christ. I wonder whether the stable scene would have been as chaotic as our family Rosaries. I doubt it.
For a few moments, I’m able to close my eyes and fixate my thoughts on Bethlehem and that humble birth. I place myself as a shepherd before the newborn babe. Holding my own son, I can imagine Mary’s devotion, the adoring look in her eyes and her tender caresses. My meditation is interrupted by my toddler as she gleefully squeals while jumping up and down on the couch. While mom’s eyes are closed, anything goes, right? “Please sit down, my love,” I calmly instruct. When she doesn’t listen, my voice rises as I finish my Hail Mary and give her a warning glance. Finally, she sits, only to cock her head and plead for a snack. My husband takes her to the kitchen for some pretzels, still praying, as I respond from my nursing position on the couch.
Want more Radiant? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!
Creating time to meditate on the life of Christ prayerfully and calmly is one thing but doing it as a family with little children is certainly another. The task requires the combination of two opposites: a peaceful prayer and energetic children who can’t sit still. Teaching children how to pray requires immeasurable patience and perseverance, but the reward is a wondrous outpouring of grace. As St. John Paul II said, “Mary’s Rosary removes the seeds of family breakup; it is the sure bond of communion and peace.” Though the difficulty of the task can be maddening, its value holds innumerable benefits.
Eating together, praying together
Growing up, the family Rosary was a non-negotiable in my home. Even though we often prayed the Rosary while cleaning the kitchen, finishing homework or chasing babies, we always said it together. And that’s the beauty of the family Rosary: It allows space for every member to come together in prayer. The toddler’s firm grasp on his rosary beads and innocent kiss for Jesus is united with the solemn meditation of the father and the gentle intercessory prayer of the mother. Though I grumbled many times when we were summoned from our hidden corners to pray, now as a mother, I can’t think of a more powerful way to protect and love my own family than by praying the Rosary with them.
Research has consistently pointed to the innumerable benefits of eating meals together as a family. This one habit alone reduces stress and is connected with higher grades in school, better health and stronger family relationships. How can the simple action of eating together have such an incredible impact on wellbeing? Nourishing ourselves alongside others binds us in our shared need for sustenance and reminds us of our common humanity. It also brings people together in a common space, allowing for the spark of conversations and sharing of knowledge. It creates opportunities for parents to teach valuable lessons, for children to ask questions and witness proper manners.
Praying a daily Rosary together as a family has a similar effect to eating meals in community. The act of coming together to quiet our minds and reflect on our life alongside the life of Christ creates a deep-seated bond within a family. It reminds each member of the why behind their existence, allowing for reflection on practical examples of how to live out our vocations. It is intercession, self-examination, adoration, petition and thanksgiving wrapped into one magnificent prayer. Taking time to recite the Rosary regularly creates space for the recollection of sacred images and reflection on the Gospels. As St. John Paul II said, “The family that recites the Rosary together reproduces something of the atmosphere of the household of Nazareth: its members place Jesus at the center.”
A mother’s role
As a mother, praying the Rosary can often bring to light my struggle to remain focused because there are so many different tasks running through my mind: My daughter needs new shoes. I forgot to switch the laundry. The living room could really use a dusting, etc. While the Rosary can seem like an impediment to the numerous duties of my vocation, when I allow myself to enter the mysteries, converse with Christ and his mother or simply quiet my mind as I recite the Hail Mary, I know I am doing something far more important than cooking or cleaning.
As Catholic women and mothers, we are called to lead our associates, friends and families into the arms of Christ. As a mother, feeding, educating and protecting children all fall under this mission, but without the example of regular prayer, how will children witness our love for Christ in action and desire to imitate it? The daily, family Rosary is one of the surest ways to provide this nourishing life of prayer. As Blessed Pope Pius IX wrote, “If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, in your country, assemble every evening to recite the Rosary.”
Within the image of Our Lady of the Rosary, women of all vocations find a bridge between the active life and the life of contemplation, as Mary holds her infant son in one arm and the rosary in the other. How easy it is to lose our calling to contemplation within the overwhelming duties of the day. Yet, this is the cross we are called to carry and embrace. The beauty is that once we create moments in which to meditate and converse with God, our daily burdens do not become lighter, but we are made stronger to carry them with courage.