Sunday, October 07, 2007

Rosary Distractions

If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins "you shall receive a never fading crown of glory." Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in Hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practise black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and save your soul, if----and mark well what I say----if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins. - St. Louis de Montfort; The Secret of the Rosary
But what value is a rosary that is prayed with distractions? Today was the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the Mass I went to was the FSSP Traditional Latin Mass at Divine Mercy Parish. The priest spent 30 minutes explaining the spiritual value of praying the Rosary, and he talked about the history of the Rosary and how St. Dominic used the Rosary as a spiritual weapon to defeat the Albigensian heresy.

When he was explaining the devotion of the Five First Saturdays, he said those who make that devotion can overcome the problem of distractions while praying the rosary. How, you wonder?
Well, the Blessed Virgin said this at Fatima:

“I promise to help at the hour of death, with the graces needed for salvation, whoever on the First Saturday of five consecutive months shall:
  1. Confess and receive Communion;
  2. Recite five decades of the Rosary;
  3. And keep me company for fifteen minutes while meditating on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary, with the intention of making reparation to me.
The priest stressed the part of the devotion where it says to meditate for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the Rosary, which means of course that we have to picture and meditate on the life of Jesus as we pray that particular mystery. How often do we pray the rosary while thinking about other things? As we pray each bead, we should be thinking about an event in the life of Jesus, not having fleeting thoughts about whatever pops into our mind to distract us. Otherwise, isn't our payer little more than mindless repetition of memorized words? And then what value does it hold in heaven?

St Louis de Montfort tells us that "you cannot possibly say your Rosary without having a few involuntary distractions and it is hard to say even one Hail Mary without your imagination troubling you a little (for our imagination is, alas, never still). The one thing you can do, however, is to say your Rosary without giving in to distractions deliberately and you can take all sorts of precautions to lessen involuntary distractions and to control your imagination.

With this in mind put yourself in the presence of God and imagine that Almighty God and His Blessed Mother are watching you and that your guardian Angel is standing at your right hand, taking your Hail Marys, if they are well said, and using them like roses to make crowns for Jesus and Mary. But remember that at your left hand lurks the devil ready to pounce upon every Hail Mary that comes his way and to write it down in his deadly note-book. And be sure that he will snatch every single one of your Hail Marys that you have not said attentively, devoutly and with reverence."

My secret for preventing distractions while praying the rosary is a little booklet called Let's Pray, (not just say) the Rosary by Liquori Publications. It was given to me years ago by a friend, and I found it to be most beneficial in aiding me to meditate on the sacred mysteries of the most holy Rosary. I purchased many copies and gave them all away. Another method you may find useful is this link which has meditations for each bead of the Rosary. You can print them out and make yourself a booklet as an aid for prayer time.


Jennifer said...

Hi PG,

Were you at the 12:30 mass? Where were you sitting? We always sit on the side aisle in the main right hand side section...about 3-4 rows back. Hope to see you next time! :-)

Tom in Vegas said...

I have prayed the Rosary many times, but how do you do it without falling asleep? Thérèse de Lisieux had the same unfortunate problem, from what I've read.

I think I'd much rather sing the Rosary in music not unlike a sacred Renaissance piece.


Divine Mercy said...

Father also spoke of rosary distractions. he said this, if you want your family to say it, then say it in 15 minutes. that's all it takes. he said, the longer you take to say it, (over 15 min) then your kids wont like to say the rosary. he said all it takes is 15 min to say the rosary, and you can say it after supper. he said, don't say it around 11 or so at night because then everyone is too tired. he also said that we should always carry a rosary with us. he told us one story, he said, a man said that if he didn't have his rosary on him, that would mean it was stolen. what he meant by this was, the only time that man would be without his rosary is if it was stolen from him. so we should carry one all the time. and also, that we can pray the rosary anywhere, anytime, and any place. so you go to the Divine Mercy church? nice!! very fitting!

AquinaSavio said...

I have struggled with terrible distractions for years. I have prayed and prayed that I might be able to overcome them, but I'm still struggling with it so badly. Please say a prayer for me. ;-)

Btw, the FSSP priest at our Church gave about a 25 minute sermon, too! :-D

paramedicgirl said...

Jennifer, yes, I was at the 12;30 Mass. I sure hope the fundraising goes well so that the FSSP can get their own church. That was my first time going there, and it took me an hour to get there! I only got lost once after exiting the Queensborough Bridge, but I think I have it figured out now.

Oh, we sat over in the right hand section. I found the choir to be wonderful, but a little overpowering, probably because of where they are forced to sing from. It's too bad that choir lofts were done away with, isn't it?

paramedicgirl said...

Tom, don't leave the Rosary until you are tired. Pray it early in the day, and then you will never have to worry about falling asleep. St. Louis de Montfort says for busy people, you can pray a decade at a time, sprinkled throughout the day.

paramedicgirl said...

Divine Mercy, -yes, that is so cool that my new parish is "Divine Mercy." It's actually at Holy Spirit (Novus Ordo) Church in New Westminster, but the FSSP are fundraising for their own church.

AquinaSavio, if you haven't read the Secret of the Rosary, I highly recommend it. You might also purchase those little booklets I linked to. They are only $1.95, and work wonders for keeping your mind where it is supposed to be while praying the mysteries of the Rosary.

Mamselle Duroc said...

I also suffer from distractions when I pray.

Loretta Young, who was very much into fashion, began to picture what the Blessed Virgin would be wearing in each scene, and it gave her the starting point for meditation.

For me, as someone who is fascinated by the perfect framing and lighting of a shot, I arrange all those details into place for a beautiful picture, and that provides the starting point for me.

And, like a couple of you have said, I really try to avoid saying it last thing. At night my mind is going over the events of the day and the plans for tomorrow, and it's really easy to get distracted. It's really easy to fall asleep in the middle, too, and when that starts happening, I get into a bad habit. My mind begins to associate the two... Rosary = Sleep. :D

And consider joining the Confraternity of the Rosary! As well as being the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, yesterday was the anniversary of the battle of Lepanto. The Confraternity was really in the front lines of the prayer that took place that day.

Divine Mercy said...

happy thanksgiving to your canadian readers!

Samantha said...

I am a newbie ( under 2 years ) and in our RCIA class we were told that you could be a perfectly good Catholic without ever reciting the rosary. Now, I know that was meant to make us all feel better about the enormity of learning the rosary, but I find it HUGELY difficult. I hate having to find my "cheatsheet" each time because I can't remember the mysteries (and hardly remember the Apostle's Creed).
I like to recite with the EWTN program, that way all the hard work is done for me.. LOL.
Hopefully one day it will come easier to me!

AquinaSavio said...

Yes, PG, I'm reading The Secret of the Rosary right now. ;-)

Samantha, I have no idea who told you that, but someone is trying to trick you. Don't let him.

paramedicgirl said...

I think I'd much rather sing the Rosary in music not unlike a sacred Renaissance piece.

Tom, who was it that said, "He who sings, prays twice?"

paramedicgirl said...

Samantha, it's true that Catholics are not required to pray the Rosary as it is a private devotion. It is a holy and good devotion though, for there is no surer way to Jesus than through His Blessed Mother. Those who love Mary love Jesus. And Mary always points the way to her Son.

She will not forget those who prayed to her at the moment of their death, and will come to their assistance as a sure mediator between us and the Just Judge. It's too big a gamble to NOT pray the Rosary.