Salvation Of Souls

A meaningful and a devotional way of praying the Holy Rosary

Almost all the devotees of Holy Mary our Mother pray the Rosary.But is it prayed meaningfully and fruitfully?And does it bring us those blessings which are promised to us through the great saints of the Church and above all our Mother herself? If not, who are to be blamed? We may blame none but ourselves because we do not pray the Rosary in the manner we ought to pray, that is with true understanding and devotion. Our Holy Mother once said: \"when the Rosary is said properly, my power is behind it. Say it with my divine Son and me in mind, and ask me to bring about the true value of this devotion; then each bead said well can conquer, a host of men\" ( cited in the book \" Divine Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary\" Compiled, edited and published by J.M.J Book Co., Necedah , Wis. 54646, U.S.A, 1979,page. IV).

St. Bernard on praying the Rosary: St. Bernard, a Doctor of the Church, gives us the correct method of praying the Rosary. He says: \" while your lips pronounce the words let your mind \'picturethe mystery , not as an event which took place centuries ago, but as events taking place\"now\" in your presence.

In each mental picture thus formed, see also yourself in the scene. Do not change the mental picture, but let it remain unchanged. If the picture is recalled without change, it will become more life - like\". St. Bernard advises us to imagine mental pictures of the sacred mysteries of the Rosary, while we pray. It is easy to make mental pictures of the five joyful mysteries of the Rosary, because the centre of these mysteries is Mother Mary herself with child Jesus. When we meditate on the other mysteries, where Mother Mary is not directly involved, then we may make mental pictures with Mother Mary and ourself in the scene. For example, when we meditate on the transfiguration of our Lord on the Mount Tabore, imagine Mother Mary witnessing the sacred events.We know that Mother Mary was not there on the Mount Tabore, but it is not forbidden to think that Holy Mary was always with jesus.Accordingly, we may imagine Mother Mary in the Garden of Gethsemane where our Lord shed his holy blood and as a witness to the great event of our salvation- the Resurrection of our Lord.

With concentration and devotion

After making the mental picture and fixing our mind at it, recite the prayer \"Hail Mary\" ten times. It shall not be by rote, instead say it as if you are saying it directly to Holy Mary who is present in front of you. Recite the prayer conscious of the meaning of each phrase with rapt attention and devotion. To make the mental pictures of the sacred mysteries, we may have the pictures of the mysteries at hand; look at them until they are captured in our minds; then reproduce them in our imagination while saying the Rosary. The more we try in this way, the greater will be our attention and devotion when we pray the Rosary.

Vocal prayer

St. Teresa of Avila, a great mystic and Doctor of the Church teaches that there are many grades of prayer by which one attains union with God.Vocal prayer is the first and the lowest grade of prayer. Any written form of prayer recited in silence or loudly, either in private or in a community is a vocal prayer. In this sense, the prayer of the Rosary is a vocal prayer.

Transforming vocal prayer into mental prayer

According to St. Teresa of Avila mental prayer or meditation belongs to the second grade of prayer. A vocal prayer becomes a mental prayer if three conditions are satisfied. In the book \'Interior Castle\' she says: \"vocal prayer, if it is a prayer at all, must be accompanied by meditation. If a person does not think whom he is addressing, and what he is asking for, and who it is that is asking and of whom he is asking it, I do not consider that he is praying at all even though he be constantly moving his lips\" (Interior Castle, translated and edited by E.Allison Peers, Sheed and Ward, London, chapter one, 1975) Again St. Teresa, in her another book \"Way of Perfection\" says: \" you must know, daughters, that whether or not you are practicing mental prayer has nothing to do with keeping the lips closed. If, while I am speaking with God, I have a clear realization and full consciousness that Iam doing so, and if this is more real to me than the words I am uttering, then I am combining mental prayer and vocal prayer \" (Way of Perfection, Trans. Edi. E. Allison Peers, chap.22).

Having mental pictures in meditation and contemplation

Just as St. Bernard asks us to use mental pictures as an aid to pray the Rosary, St. Teresa of Avila also asks us to make use of holy pictures in meditation and even in the early stages of contemplation. In her book \"Life\" she says: \"My method of prayer was this. As I could not reason with my mind, I would try to make pictures of Christ inwardly; and I used to think that I felt better when I dwelt on those parts of His life when he was most often alone. It seemed to me that he being alone and afflicted, like a person in need, made it possible for me to approach him\" (Life, Trans. Ed; E. Allison Peers, Sheed and Ward, London, 1975, chap.9). To make pictures of Christ inwardly, she began to look at pictures or paintings of Christ working miracles or Jesus praying in the garden of Gethsemane etc \"It was for this reason\",

she writes, \" that I was so fond of pictures \" ( Ibid; chap.9, no.6). St. Teresa was convinced that looking at pictures of Jesus Christ would kindle love and devotion to Him. Therefore she exhorts the beginners in prayer life in the following way: \"Unhappy are those who through their own faults lose this blessing! It really looks as if they do not love the Lord, for if they loved Him they would delight in looking at pictures of Him, just as they take pleasure in seeing pictures of anyone else whom they love\" ( Ibid).

The joy of praying the Rosary

St Bernard and St. Teresa of Avila tell us the importance of mental pictures while praying the Rosary or any other vocal prayer. They insist that any kind of vocal prayer must be a meditation or mental prayer. If we try to pray the Rosary as these saints teach us, gradually the prayer of the Rosary will become meaningful and devotional. My experience with many Marian devotees suggests that praying the Rosary in the above prescribed way is meaningful, devotional, and joyful and it inspires us to go on praying the Rosary as many as three or four times at a time. We really feel the company of our Holy Mother, to whom we address constantly \"Hail Mary\".

As St. Bernard teaches us, God wants to give us all the graces through the hands of our Mother Mary. Therefore, let us be zealous enough to pray the Rosary as many times as possible and thereby receive all the heavenly blessings in abundance for all of us and for all those who left us for the eternal life.

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