Bishop Hying

Dating back to all great saints, the Rosary still holds power and utility in our spiritual lives

As published in the Northwest Indiana Catholic on October 21, 2018 


     The pope has asked Catholics throughout the world to pray the Rosary daily through this month of October, a month dedicated to this special prayer since the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary falls on October 7.  My parents were very dedicated to praying the Rosary daily, and since childhood, I have found it a source of strength, inspiration, Scriptural meditation and consolation.

      The origins of the Rosary have several narratives. One is the vision which St. Dominic experienced of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who revealed the form and method of the Rosary to him. The other relates to the prayer life of medieval monks and nuns who chanted all 150 psalms in choir on a weekly basis. The lay people who lived around the monasteries wanted to participate in this prayer in some way, but did not have the time or capacity to chant all the psalms. 

      Instead, they substituted one Hail Mary for every psalm, using pebbles to mark their progress.  Eventually, beads on strings replaced the pebbles and the 150 Hail Marys were divided into decades, focusing on the events surrounding the birth, death and resurrection of our Lord.

      In the Gospels, Mary is said to store her profound experiences of Jesus in her heart and to ponder often on their meaning. When we pray the Rosary, we are asking the Blessed Mother to open her interior storehouse and to share her treasured and living memories of Christ with us. The Rosary is profoundly Christocentric and Scriptural. When we meditate on the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries, we enter into the fundamental events of our salvation, not as historical facts, but as living realities in our lives.

      When I ponder the First Joyful Mystery of the Annunciation, for example, I consider what invitation of surrender, discipleship and service the Lord is calling me to embrace, just as he invited the Blessed Virgin to become the Mother of God. How is God breaking into my life and what is he asking of me?    When I pray over the Fourth Sorrowful Mystery of the Carrying of the Cross, I pray for the people I have promised to lift up to the Lord, those struggling with heavy crosses. I ask myself if there are ways that I can help them to carry the cross.

      When I meditate on the Third Glorious Mystery of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, I imagine myself in the Upper Room at the moment of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit filled those first followers of the Lord.  I ask that same Spirit to fill me, to breathe on me and give me apostolic courage and zeal.

      Sometimes, the daily recitation of the Rosary can become routine, monotonous, overly-familiar and dry. A resource that truly helps me stay focused on each bead is the Scriptural Rosary, a little book that offers a Bible verse for every Hail Mary. This practice dates back to European villages in the Middle Ages when entire communities would pray the Rosary together, utilizing the Bible as a meditation aid. 

      I also try to put myself in the scene of the mystery, imagining what I would see, hear, feel, experience and even smell. I try to let the narrative unfold in my mind and heart as an interior film in living color.  These efforts help to keep the Rosary fresh and fruitful.

      All the great saints speak of the Rosary’s power and utility in their spiritual lives. Here are a few quotes. 

      “Never will anyone who prays the Rosary every day be led astray.” - St. Louis de Montfort 

      “The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” - Saint Francis de Sales 

      “When you say your Rosary, the angels rejoice, the Blessed Trinity delights in it, my Son finds joy in it, too, and I, myself, am happier than you can possibly guess. After the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is nothing in the Church that I love as much as the Rosary.” - Our Lady to Blessed Alan de la Roche  “You must know that when you “hail” Mary, she immediately greets you!  If you greet her, she will answer you right away and converse with you.” - Saint Bernadine of Siena

      You may find it difficult to pray five decades of the Rosary every day if you are starting out from scratch. I would suggest beginning with one decade. One mystery prayed well may have more merit and bear more fruit than five prayed hurriedly with distraction. 

      Seek to develop a relationship with the Blessed Virgin Mary. She is our spiritual mother, given to us from the cross as Jesus was dying. Speak your feelings, needs, fears and love to her. Venerate a truly beautiful statue or picture of her in your home. Ponder her life, generosity, love, suffering and mercy.  It is no accident that every great saint had a deep, tender and theological relationship with the Blessed Mother. She will always lead us to her Son, make intercession for us and love us on our pilgrim way home.


       + Donald J. Hying


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