Once Upon a Time I Ran
“Please stop whipping your sister with your rosary! Holy Mary mother of God…”
“We don’t throw rosaries off the deck! Go pick it up AGAIN! As it was in the beginning…”
“Please stop looking at your brother! You know it drives him nuts. Our Father, who art in heaven…”
This same chaotic, borderline insane scene plays out night after night here in the Brix household. The family rosary is how we wind down our day, every night. If I’m being completely honest, it is NEVER peaceful and is absolutely NOT the most reverent. It involves lots of toddler aerobics and wild rosary flinging tricks. Despite the drama of it, we hope sprinkled into the circus act are a few holy seconds that our kids can see us model meditation and reverence in prayer.
The rosary has been special to me for a long time now. My devotion was inspired as a cry from a child to her mother in response to losing my mom way too soon. My mom had a strong devotion to Our Lady through the rosary, so I felt connected to her through this prayer. It then led me to a deeper love of Mary, as I needed her as my spiritual mother to comfort and encourage me in the absence of my mom. And finally, the rosary led me to love Our Lord in a very intimate way.
How many times have you heard someone encouraging you to be Christ-like? How many cheesy Facebook, or Instagram quotes have you come across promoting the same phrase? The saying Christ-like falls so easily off the tongue. It’s so common that it’s true meaning can get manipulated into something that it is not.
That being said, we are in fact called to be Christ-like, but aside from the cute memes or virtue signaling B.S, what does it really mean? I would assert that to really be like Christ means to study who Jesus is so that we can strive to model after him.
How crazy would it be if I told you that to be successful, fulfilled and joyful, all you would need to do is mimic John Smith. What if the only thing that I said about him was that he was super cool and nice. Um, that is so not helpful, is it?! The craziest part of this example is that this really is how some people view Christianity! How can you mimic somebody that you don’t know anything about?!
I am telling you this because the rosary is a powerful vehicle to getting to know the real Jesus. This prayer was given to St. Dominic in 1208 by Mary herself. What is so interesting about it, is that it is a prayer for absolutely everyone. Back then, only the very wealthy were educated, so being able to read was an incredible luxury. Because they weren’t able to read the bible, they were still able to memorize and ultimately meditate on monumental moments in the life of Jesus and Mary.
A full rosary is 15 decades, totaling 150 Hail Mary’s. This is the exact number of psalms, and several orders of monks recite each of them daily. But for those that can’t read, they still get the dignity of honoring them and also meditating further on the life of Christ. Each mystery is a defining moment in the lives of Jesus and Mary. They are referred to as mysteries, because regardless of how often or how long you meditate on each particular mystery, you will never fully grasp the beauty or gravity of the event. Even the greatest doctors of the church will attest that the more they studied and meditated upon each mystery, the more they realized they still didn’t understand.
I’ve thrown a lot at you here so let me pull it all back together through an example. Let’s say that we are praying the Sorrowful mysteries today. The first sorrowful mystery is the Agony in the Garden. While my mouth is busy saying the Hail Mary’s, my fingers are busy following along on the rosary beads, and my mind is picturing Our Blessed Lord sweating blood as he thinks in horror of the many sins humanity had, and would in the future commit. What did his face look like? How did the apostles react to seeing Jesus suffer in this way? Why did he not run away, knowing that the soldiers were coming for him? How can I model his perseverance in times of adversity? How can I be humble and vulnerable around my friends like he was? How can I love unconditionally, and forgive in such a heroic way like Jesus did? After the Our Father, ten Hail Mary’s and the Glory Be are finished, we move on to the next mystery and meditate on that one in the same way.
I always find that my problems seem pretty pathetic, and my good deeds seem pretty small when I compare them to Jesus. But this doesn’t discourage me. It gives me a healthy perspective and reminds me to be grateful. I know that my problems are insignificant, but I know that Jesus still cares about them and I find my strength in that.
So my family rosary isn’t always as fruitful and meditative as it should be, but I pray that in habit-building the daily rosary, my kids will one day develop the skill set to use the rosary as a tool to fall deeply in love with Our Lord and become truly Christ-like because they know the real Jesus.
Until next time my dear friends- your sister in Christ,