What the month of October means to Catholics and how to honor it in your home.
In the Catholic Church, each of the 12 months of the year has a devotional theme. It’s a great way to bring special traditions, symbols, colors, and even foods into our faith life at home.
October is the month of the Holy Rosary. Here are 10 ways you can more closely align your life and home to the Rosary. Perhaps some of these wonderful devotions will stick around your domestic church even after October is over!
1. Design and plant a rosary garden
It’s still gardening season in October (think colorful mums and Gerbera daisies!), but you can begin planning this any time of year. What a wonderful and prayerful activity this could be for a whole family; or a deeply meditative task for you to undertake alone. Why not walk the mysteries of the Rosary in your own backyard, using special flowers, plants and statues to assist in prayer? Here are a few ideas …
A rosary garden could have a statue of Mary as a focal point. Some statues even depict Mary holding a rosary. Ten stepping stones placed in a pattern could serve as markers for a decade of the Rosary. If spaced closely together, they could provide a visual aid for prayer; if spaced further apart you could step on each one while traveling the decade in prayer.
Plan what flowers you’ll add over the year. Flowers chosen in tribute could include roses and any flower that traditionally evokes Mary, such as Marigolds (Mary’s Gold). A Jesus and/or St. Joseph statue nearby would keep reminders of the Holy Family near you as you pray your Rosary.
Depending on the size of the garden you could have four areas: the joyful, sorrowful, glorious and luminous. You can get creative with the flowers you choose for each. A joyful mystery garden could include embellishments such as a garden angel evoking the Annunciation. A sorrowful mystery garden could include a bench on which to sit and spend prayerful time with Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. A glorious mystery garden could include bright celebratory colors to remind of the Resurrection’s triumph. A luminous mystery garden could be composed of flowers only in yellow and white tones, to remind of light. You could even include scallop shells as a border accent, to remind of St. John the Baptist baptizing Jesus in the River Jordan. Let your creativity and prayers be your guide!
2. Set your dining table, mantel or other prominent area in your home with an Our Lady of the Rosary altar
Get a blue table cloth or runner to evoke Mary, or white to evoke her purity and adorn with a statue or picture of Our Lady and a bouquet of flowers you freshen all month and/or a candle (and there are many safe battery-operated candles these days!) to light at night. Since it is the month of the Rosary, include one prominently in your display.
3. Cook for the Queen
Make a special Marian-themed dinner. Here are some easy ideas: Since rosemary is the herb associated with Mary, you might try a dinner of rosemary chicken, and for dessert make a rosary or decade out of candies, small cookies or miniature cupcakes decorated with confectionery roses or edible flower petals on the top, or blue or white icing. Or make a Bundt cake, which is naturally molded in the shape of a crown and can help recall Mary’s queenship. Decorate it colorfully.
4. Add Rosary-inspired prayers at special moments
Add a Hail Mary after grace before meals. Or add a less well-known Rosary-associated prayer before you eat, such as the Hail Holy Queen, the Fatima Prayer or the Apostle’s Creed. Note that this could be a special month to read more about and consider doing a consecration to Mary.
5. Surround yourself with art and music that honors Mary
Whether it’s Marian Gregorian chant, Bach’s Magnificat, or Pavarotti’s Ave Maria, fill your home with the beautiful sounds of homage to our heavenly mother. If you can play an instrument, you might try your hand at playing anything from “On This Day, O Beautiful Mother,” to “Gentle Woman.”
Also, why not contemplate a Marian masterpiece? Religious art isn’t just for church. Search for classic works of art featuring Our Lady and find a favorite; then get a print for your home. Da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli … the possibilities for beautiful images are plentiful. Want to see a great image of Our Lady of the Rosary? Do a search for, “Our Lady of the Rosary,” 1840, by Tommaso Minardi, “Our Lady of the Rosary” by Carlo Ceresa (1609-1679) or the stunning “Our Lady of the Rosary” attributed to García de Bouzas from Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
6. Read a Marian classic
Here are some suggestions: The Secret of the Rosary or True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montford; The Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary; The Imitation of Mary by Thomas a Kempis; The World’s First Love: Mary, Mother of God by Fulton Sheen.
7. Devote Saturdays to Mary’s honor
Saturday is the day our Church sets aside for Our Blessed Mother. Make a visit to a church that has a Marian chapel or statue and ask for Mary’s intercession. It’s a great day to focus on her and let her prepare you for receiving her Son in the Eucharist, either at the Saturday Vigil or on Sunday. Consider going to Saturday Confession as part of that preparation.
8. Practice special acts of charity
Choose one of the noted feast days in October — for example, Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7), any Saturday (since all Saturdays are devoted to Mary) or the feast of Pope St. John Paul II on October 22 (he was famously devoted to the Rosary) — and do a special act of charity for someone in need. Offer it up to Jesus through Mary’s Immaculate heart.
9. Pray the Rosary every day for the month of October or pray a family Rosary
If you don’t already, why not start saying the Rosary every day. Or try saying a family Rosary or even just a decade together. Let each person share an intention they’d like the whole family to pray for.
10. Find ways to share the Rosary with others
Perhaps you can give rosary beads to a friend going through a challenging time, or bring a few to the local hospital or nursing home for any patients who might benefit from them. Perhaps you can join a group at church such as your parish Rosary Society and try the beautiful act of praying the Rosary with others. Maybe you could even start your own group or ask a family member or friend to join you once a month, on First Fridays or First Saturdays, for example, as a time to pray for each other and share time with Mary. If you are able to commit to praying the complete Rosary weekly, join the Rosary Confraternity and join your prayers to the prayers of all members, creating a beautiful bond of support and mutual prayer linking you to other members worldwide.