Learning to Love the Rosary

(3 minute read)

I grew up in a Dominican parish, and the Dominicans are where the rosary in its current form originated. Based on that fact, and also that my parents are both lovers of the rosary, it would seem that I was in a prime position to be nurtured into a love of the rosary.  

I do love the rosary now, although I didn’t always.

When I was younger, it seemed Absolutely Interminable, with allllll those Hail Marys in each mystery, and five whole mysteries to get through!   

My family practiced the First Saturday devotion with several other families, and so once a month, we’d get together with three or four other families, eat dinner together, and pray the rosary. The rosary was, shall we say, not the children’s favorite part of proceedings. There were always groans when we were called from playing together to pray. My family would bring a projector and screen, and we’d project art onto it for each mystery, and I’d often be in charge of moving the art along as we moved through the Hail Marys. That was my favorite, because it made the rosary feel like it was moving faster than usual. But despite my impatience, having the monthly rosary with friends did establish positive associations with it for me.

My parents overall did the wise thing and didn’t try to “push” the rosary on their kids. They taught it to us, had us pray it on First Saturdays, and modeled it for us—they pray it almost every day together, in a busy area of the house.   

I started praying the rosary on my own as a junior in high school, when I would bike to community college every day. My commute was just the right length for a rosary. I didn’t use an actual rosary because I obviously needed my hands on my handlebars, so I simply used my fingers. But then COVID hit, and I no longer had to commute, and the rosary was dropped.  

When I got to college, I met my first Catholic friends because they were praying the rosary in the chapel. I slid into the pew behind them and started praying along, to their slight confusion. Those two friends grew into a beautiful Catholic friend group, most of whom prayed the rosary daily. I was in the minority, and happy there. But then I started getting a persistent feeling—often, for me, the sign of a nudge from the Holy Spirit—that I should be praying the rosary regularly, too.

After spending most of fall semester resisting this feeling that I should be praying the rosary, I finally began praying it daily. And while, when I started praying it every day, it did sometimes feel interminable, with more practice, it doesn’t anymore. It seems just the right length, or sometimes even a little too short. I also started using an actual rosary, which I had looked down on for years—why use a rosary when you have ten perfectly good fingers? —and discovered why people use them. Just picking up my rosary makes me feel calmer, more connected with God. It’s almost like an adult Catholic pacifier.    

It would perhaps have been easy for my parents to get discouraged that I wasn’t demonstrably interested in the rosary, which is an important prayer to them. But I think I needed to be a certain age before the rosary began bearing fruit for me, both because of the length, and because it calls for meditation on the mysteries while saying the prayers, which can be tricky for kids. I mean, it’s still tricky for me! I still sometimes have trouble remembering to meditate on the mystery…my mind will wander, and I’ll find myself—while still praying the Hail Marys—meditating on what I’m having for lunch instead of the Scourging at the Pillar, for instance.  

I’m grateful that my parents taught me the rosary, had me pray it at least once a month, and exposed me to them praying it regularly, without making it an obligation, so that I could grow towards regular recitation of the rosary on my own, and in my own time.  

Written by Samantha, age 18


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