Paying attention to the details can help this form of prayer more effective.
Before you recite your Rosary you need to know how to hold the beads. This seems obvious, and yet we do not hold the rosary as any other object. First of all, rosaries are a wonderful gift that the Lord has given us to bind us more closely to Him. At the instant of putting our hand into a bag or a pocket to reach for one, we can give thanks to the Lord for giving us the rosary. This moment is compellingly represented by Michelangelo on the walls of the Sistine chapel in an image of a man grabbing onto a rosary held by another.
All begins with the sign of the cross
On its own, the sign of a cross sums up all the spiritual wealth to which the prayer allows us access. The cross represents the anchor of salvation to which the Rosary links us. This sign that we often distractedly make should also be received as a grace.
The Apostles’ Creed reminds us that the Rosary is an act of faith in Jesus
This act of Faith we recite together with the whole Church and Our Lady. The latter, in the glory of her Assumption, enjoys the beatific vision, but the faith, which was hers throughout her earthly life, remains the model for our own. We commune with the Person of the Savior in each of his mysteries, and in doing this we, in a sense, participate in Mary’s faith.
The gospel turned into prayer
It starts with the childhood of Jesus in the Joyful mysteries (a “mystery” in a sense of “event”), then continues in his Passion with the Sorrowful mysteries and finally culminates in his resurrection with the Glorious mysteries. Each of these mysteries — from the Annunciation (the incarnation of Jesus in Mary) to the crowning of the Virgin (Jesus crowning Mary) — centers on the figure of Christ. Incorporating the Luminous mysteries of St. John Paul II sheds even more light on the revelation of God’s saving love. In the same fashion, in each “Hail Mary,” Mary’s name prepares the way to that of Jesus; we learn from the Mother of God how to look for the Son.
A practice we’ve inherited from the saints consists is introducing “clauses” in each “Hail Mary.” This is fairly simple. It is enough to slide in one or two words that will help us to set our minds on the mystery to be contemplated. One might, for example, say: “The presentation of Jesus at the Temple” or “Blessed and resurrected Jesus.” This can help us, especially if we take time to pray amidst our daily preoccupations. In this way, we can achieve a transformation of our day with its joyful, sorrowful, luminous and glorious aspects and become bound to Jesus as He was bound to Mary under the fruitful guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Let us not be dissuaded by the litanic and repetitive nature
Let us recall that this prayer was requested by Our Lady in all of her apparitions. It has been insistently recommended by all the popes. The Rosary, by the way, is the form of prayer that St. John-Paul II preferred. It is a prayer of the poor that can be recited in all circumstances, even if (and especially if) we are exhausted. St. Therese of Lisieux had trouble with reciting her Rosary. But the Rosary nevertheless remains a means to the most important goal: With Mary we are steered toward Jesus who wishes us to rejoin Him. Let God make it so, even if on some days, we might stammer.
Monseigneur Louis Sankalé