Stop trying to do it on your own, because you can't. But the mysteries of the rosary can show you how Mary did it first.
One of the best things about editing Catholic books is that I usually end up being assigned to projects I need to read myself. I can't tell you how many times something I've been working on has been a total godsend. Or how often my own life has been a reflection of whatever it was I was editing. Spooky!
That happened this year with Gretchen Crowe's book, "Why the Rosary, Why Now?"
Look, everyone who knows me also knows that when it comes to praying the rosary, I'm aspirational. The rosary is an acquired taste; at least it is for me. I think that's because the experience of praying the rosary is fundamentally different from every other kind of prayer. On one hand, meditating on the mysteries makes it contemplative. But on the other, the repetition of familiar vocal prayers disrupts the journey into silence and makes it a prayer to be shared with others. That tension -- and growing up Protestant -- has made it hard for me to consider the rosary one of my go-to prayers.
Recently, though, and mostly due to editing Crowe's book, the rosary has moved up to a higher place on my list. Why? Because regardless of my personal "tastes" and preferences, there are just too many reasons to pray the rosary -- too many reasons, that is, to ignore.
That is the power of "Why the Rosary, Why Now?"
Instead of providing a how-to-pray-the-rosary book, or a particular rosary devotional, Crowe has curated the best writings from the authors to explain why we should pray the rosary. And the reasons are compelling. Pray the rosary to break through the noise. How hard it is do that in our very noisy, constantly communicating world. Pray the rosary to strengthen your family. Every family I know, including my own, needs strength. Pray the rosary for world peace. With ISIS and North Korea in the news, and the growing uncertainties in our cities and towns, peace is further beyond our reach than ever. Pray the rosary to grow in discipleship. Stop trying to do it on your own, because you can't. But the mysteries of the rosary can show you how Mary did it first. Pray the rosary to stand against aggressive secularism. Let the beads tie you to the mast of your faith in the storm. Pray the rosary as a weapon against evil. Not only the evil outside you, but the evil that makes its home -- or tries to -- in your own heart. Pray the rosary to become a saint. Yes you ... a saint. If not with a capital S with a parish named after you, then one with a little s, counted among the redeemed and destined for heaven.
The rosary is a lifeline. The wisdom of so many notable Catholics testify to that reality.
Popes Pius XII, Leo XIII, John XXIII, John Paul I and John Paul II as well as Fulton Sheen, Father Patrick Peyton, St. Teresa of Kolkata, John Henry Newman, and Jesuit Father Hubert Schiffer: all of them were devoted to the rosary. All of them. So the fact that I'm not naturally inclined to do so myself is just proof of how much I need what the rosary can give -- indisputable proof beyond the shadow of a doubt.
The truth is we all need what the rosary offers us. That's why I'm joining Gretchen's 31 Day Rosary Challenge, and why I'll reread the book she wrote and I edited during October, the month dedicated to the holy rosary in this, the 100th anniversary of Our Lady of the Rosary's apparition at Fatima.
Jaymie Stuart Wolfe is a wife and mother of eight children, and a disciple of the spirituality of St. Francis de Sales. She is the author of “Adoption: Room for One More?”, a speaker, musician and serves as an Aquisitions Editor at Our Sunday Visitor. Follow her on Twitter @YouFeedThem.