Tuesday, June 7, 2016
How to Really *Feel* Something When Praying the Rosary
A lot of times when I have prayed the Rosary as a convert to Catholicism, I have sat there wondering: Why don't I feel anything? Usually in prayer, I feel peace, or I feel moved, or I have a sense of understanding. However, with the Rosary, I have had a hard time feeling anything. I think it is quite sad, and it shouldn't be this way. So I will attempt to break down why that is, and then tell you how the words of my favorite hymn have transformed me and have made me fall in love with praying the Rosary again.
So why don't I "feel" it? I think it can be boiled down to four things.
1. I didn't grow up doing it.
This is the most obvious thing, but it is important. I have had no practice up till five years ago. I wasn't exposed to it; I was completely ignorant of it. How would I deeply feel something if it is completely foreign to me? I've tried to "force it," but that doesn't always work for me. Help?!
2. I'm not in the habit of doing it a whole lot.
Honestly, even though I have been Catholic for five years already, that doesn't mean it is an ingrained habit for me. Actually, praying the Rosary has been a dreadful thing for me; a habit much like pulling weeds or digging a deep hole in the garden. Tiresome, but it still felt necessary. Because it is foreign, I have to be pretty desperate, like flying-on-abumpy-plane desperate to feel "in the mood."
3. Much of the profundity and purpose for it is lost on me.
Because of the these first two things, I can't really "feel" it deeply, much in the same way you wouldn't really "See" the Church if you didn't understand all of her symbols.
4. It gives me anxiety, because I don't "get it."
This is a real problem, and one I have had to talk about in therapy with my counselor. I told her that if I read anything about death or dying, I would start to think I was about to get a serious illness, or God was trying to tell me he was about to judge me. I have no idea why/where this anxiety was coming from, but I had to take a break from praying the Rosary for a while.
But also, there are several things I can do to make it more powerful. I can...
1. Do it in a good spirit.
I can try to pray the Rosary when I am humble, when I have been to confession, and when I have good intentions for praying it. I can pray when I've been to Mass and my heart is in the right place, and I'm thinking about truth.
2. Increase my understanding of it. (Joyful on Mondays and Saturdays, Luminous on Thursdays, Sorrowful on Tuesdays and Fridays, Glorious on Wednesdays and Sundays).
I can memorize the prayers, and learn the Mysteries, and study the meaning behind the Rosary. The true purpose of the Rosary is to ask our Mother Mary to pray for us to Jesus. The humbling thing is: we can do it when we are tired, when we are despairing, when we are exasperated, when we are impatient, and when we are- yes, indeed- suffering.
3. Sing worship songs afterwards.
Instead of praying the closing prayers, I can recite the verses of a favorite hymn from my childhood. I can meditate on those words.
This last thing has completely transformed my understanding of- and use of- the Rosary! If I can turn it into a devotional time, a time for letting the Spirit really penetrate my space, then I can truly accept this prayer as a beautiful aspect of my faith. This last and third step recalls something from my childhood, and that seals it with a sense of familiarity and peace. And I think there is nothing wrong with that! ;)
While I have had many good penances from priests after saying Confession, I've never had a priest tell me to pray the Rosary everyday. Usually, I get something like, "Say three Our Fathers in front of the crucifix and three Glory Be's" or (on a good day), "Offer yourself to God every morning for a week, and pray, asking him to help you to be faithful to Him."
I think saying a Rosary everyday for a week would be an excellent penance for the sin of neglecting it! Perhaps some of us could engage preemptively in this action!;)
What are some of your favorite hymns? I've been shopping around and I think I've found a couple of really good ones!
Linking up with Tuesday Talk