The Rosary: tips on building a habit

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve found the daily (or as close as possible) recitation of the Rosary has been enormously beneficial for me. I have seen quite tangible, positive changes to my marriage that coincide entirely with when I started to take regular recitation of the Rosary seriously. I love how it now weaves into the rhythm of my life; whilst I rarely manage to say a full Rosary in one sitting, I can usually say a decade here and there throughout my day until it’s complete.

As this devotion has been so fruitful for me (and countless others), I wanted to share a few tips about how to forge this habit if it’s something you struggle with.

  • Podcasts/YouTube

When I committed to a daily Rosary, the thing that helped me the most was praying along with an audio Rosary. I used the Rosary Army Scriptural Rosary, which I found great and loved the Scripture verses before each Hail Mary to help me focus on the Mysteries. There are loads of others available, though, depending on your preferences. 

  •  Commit to a novena 

I decided to pray a 54 day Rosary novena for my marriage. It was daunting and overwhelming – I could not imagine praying a Rosary every day for 54 days! But my intention was important to me, and so I did it. It was a great way to make it a habit, and although I haven’t kept it up every single day since, I still manage it most days. If 54 days seems to much, pick a different novena, such as the novena to Our Lady Undoer of Knots (9 days) and include the Rosary in your prayers to her.

  • Find where it fits into your day

I used to think that I had to pray a Rosary sitting down, quietly, with no distractions. And maybe that is optimal. But it doesn’t fit well into my life as a SAHM, and so I most often pray it whilst taking the baby somewhere in the pushchair. I count Hail Marys on my fingers, curled around the bar of the pushchair, and let my little one get used to seeing and hearing me say those prayers. Perhaps for you it’s in the car, or while you nurse. Wherever it is, it doesn’t *have* to involve sitting down in conditions conducive to contemplative prayer and praying it all in one sitting. 

  • You don’t have to pray it all at once!

This has probably made the biggest different for me. Sometimes I pray two decades on the way to the supermarket, two on the way back, and one right before bed. Sometimes I pray three in Mass, and two on the walk home. And yes, sometimes I forget (or am too tired) to finish the whole Rosary before the day is over. But that’s OK. God knows your intention and appreciates the efforts you made, and Mary will be interceding for you even in the absence of that final decade (or three)!

I hope this helps, and that little by little, you might feel able to make the Rosary part of your regular prayer routine. I promise you will be so glad that you did.

A post-rosary prayer for my marriage

This is an approximation of a prayer that I offer each day after the rosary I say for my husband, my marriage and my family. Of course, it can be tweaked according to your circumstances and doesn’t need to be offered after a rosary.

Lord, through the intercession of your Blessed Mother, please accept this rosary as an offering for the good of my marriage.

May our union be long, happy, healthy and holy.

May your Most Holy Mother pray for me that I would imitate her, striving to love my family as perfectly as she loves hers, and that I would grow in the virtues modelled so flawlessly by her.

I pray that through the intercession of her spouse, your foster father, St. Joseph, my husband will come to love You and Your Church. May St. Joseph intercede for him to grow as a loving husband and father, who will ultimately lead his family towards Christ.

May the Spirit guide me today and always to be the wife that my husband needs me to be, and the mother than my daughter needs me to be. I pray that, by your Grace, I will help to lead them Home.

Through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

The Annunciation and the unexpected

The story of the Annunciation is beloved amongst Catholics. It is here that we see Mary’s indispensable role in the story of Salvation begin to unfold. It is here that Mary teaches us that by giving our ‘yes’ to God, even when we afraid (especially when we are afraid), we can participate in God’s plan for mankind, helping His Kingdom to come.

That narrative is a little overdone. It is beautiful, and certainly true; we must follow Mary’s example, and give our fiat to God, asking for the Blessed Mother’s intercession when we feel afraid to take bold steps alone. I am certainly not questioning the goodness and truth of this lesson. It’s just that this seems to be *the* ‘teachable moment’ that gets reeled off again and again when it comes to the Annunciation.

As I prayed the first Joyful Mystery of the Rosary yesterday, something else stood out to me. We know intellectually that Mary must have been confused by what God asked of her, and that the people around her must have gossiped and accuse her of all sorts of terrible things once they knew she was pregnant. But because we know so well that this was a fundamental part of God’s plan for Salvation, have we perhaps forgotten that, when it actually happened, people didn’t know that? All they saw was a young girl, not yet married, who had suddenly and mysteriously fallen pregnant?

If that happened today, would you believe Mary’s story? Would you think that she was the axis on which the story of Salvation turns? Or would you just think that she was delusional, kidding herself, or outright lying – even blaspheming against God by using Him as an excuse for her sin?

I suspect I might think the latter. And that got me to thinking – how many times have we inwardly or outwardly questioned God’s call for someone else? Wondered whether they are simply using God as an excuse for something they want to do whether or not it is God’s will? How many times have I let someone else’s raised eyebrows or judgement thinly veiled as ‘advice’, make me question God’s plan for my life?

No one except God can tell you who you should marry. Maybe God will speak through someone you know – but you shouldn’t let someone’s unsolicited and perhaps uncharitable opinion be a deciding factor. Your non-religious friends might say, “What’s the problem? Why does it matter whether he shares your beliefs? This is the problem with religion – it divides people!”. Whilst your devout Catholic friends might say, ‘There’s no way that God wants you to marry a non-Catholic. How can you give your whole self to God if you can’t share your beliefs with your spouse?”

God has a special and unique plan for each of us, one that may seem surprising or even shocking to outsiders – as Mary’s story shows us. Mary also shows us that it’s OK to be afraid or even to question God about His plan. Ultimately, she demonstrates that if we accept a plan that may cause whispers and gossip, we can bring glory to God.

As I always say, I do not wish to suggest that any and all relationships with non-Catholics are willed by God. You need to be honest with yourself and open to God’s voice when discerning how any given relationship will impact your relationship with God. But don’t be put off by other people casting doubt on your role in God’s tapestry of Salvation.