Pray, and Preach, the Rosary Every Day - submitted by: Adam Emerson
On Sunday, October 4, I joined in spirit with who I can only guess were many thousands of people who recited the Supplication to the Queen of the Holy Rosary. In this prayer, written 132 years ago in Italy by the “Apostle of the Rosary,” Blessed Bartolo Longo, the petitioner humbly pours out his affection to the Virgin Mary and places himself at her mercy through the “sweet chain which unites us to God.” In these early days of October, a month ordinarily given to the Rosary, I share these words not simply to adore this sweet chain, but to promote it.
The promulgation of the Rosary has been, and continues to be, an apostolate of the Order of Preachers. And all members of the Dominican family are encouraged to preach it. Bartolo Longo, in fact, was a Dominican tertiary who was beatified by Pope Saint John Paul II in 1980 distinctly for his work in leading the poor of 19th-century Pompeii to Jesus and Mary through a divine love of the Rosary. In the 21st century, the longing for the fruits of the Rosary is just as deep, and Lay Dominicans are uniquely positioned to help fulfill it.
As a newly minted lay candidate to the Order of Preachers, I won’t pretend to have the answer as to how to promote this. I can only testify to its presence in my life. But for me, it already has borne fruit.
The Rosary was perhaps the greatest surprise to me during my year of inquiry into the Dominican Order. I was born a Catholic and educated at Catholic schools, but until last year I hadn’t picked up a Rosary – much less prayed one – since I was a young boy. I was a cerebral sort who was initially drawn to the regular practice of scriptural and spiritual study within the Order. Through an excellent period of formation, however, it became clear that my prayer life needed tending.
I needed a guide, and I found one initially in the Magnificat Rosary Companion, a richly illustrated and beautifully written compendium of meditations on the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries. This had, indeed, helped to light a path to prayer, opening my heart to the Living Gospel and my intellect to other reflections on the Rosary, not the least of which included the Secret of the Rosary by Saint Louis Grignion de Montfort, the Mystery of the Rosary, by Marc Tremeau, O.P., and – most especially – Rosarium Virginis Mariae, the esteemed apostolic letter of John Paul II.
With John Paul II, I read the words that would alter the very fabric of my home. “The family that recites the Rosary together,” the Holy Father wrote, “reproduces something of the atmosphere of the household of Nazareth: its members place Jesus at the centre, they share his joys and sorrows, they place their needs and their plans in his hands, they draw from him the hope and the strength to go on.”
For the first few months of my inquiry as a Lay Dominican, I had been praying the Rosary privately, in another room while my young children slept or while my wife knitted. Upon reading these words of John Paul, I asked, “Why am I keeping this to myself?” My 5-year-old, after all, had been gazing at the beads I had wrapped around my hands from time to time. I asked her if she wanted her own. She said yes.
My wife and I found her a colorful, oversized Rosary that seemed to suit her and asked our parish priest to bless it. But I didn’t want her to just finger the beads. I wanted her to pray them with me. Admittedly, I had low expectations of a kindergartner until I showed her the same Magnificat rosary guide that aided my prayers. I thought she would like the illustrations. I never would have guessed just how much she would like them.
Every night, she would insist on opening up that guide, finding the picture she liked best that day and joining me in saying one decade of the Rosary. At first, I said most of the Hail Marys, asking her to recite with me just the first and the tenth of them. Within a few weeks, she was saying them all with me.
One night, she slipped out of her room after bedtime while I was saying Evening Prayers. Before I could say with frustration that it was past time for bed, she said, “Daddy, I have questions. What does it mean that Jesus rose from the dead?”
At that moment, I praised God and I gave myself to the Virgin Mary and asked for the grace to be an apostle in my own home, for the wisdom to be the teacher of the faith to my two daughters, and for the fortitude to remain on the path that my Lord has lit for me. A more cynical person might have told me that my 5-year-old was just postponing bedtime, but that child is the one who first reaches for the Rosary guide every night.
Moreover, the sight of her husband and daughter praying the Rosary nightly also led my wife to join us. Even our 2-year-old wanted in on the act, so we got her a “junior” Rosary for her to finger. That one decade, that one mystery – whichever we decide we will pray that day – has become for our household a family prayer.
I am not foolish to believe that it will be all downhill from here. I know that it will take effort to maintain my daughter’s interest in and commitment to this prayer. That’s why every day, I ask Our Lady to intercede for our family so that we stay on this path. And I ask all the Dominican Blesseds and Saints for their prayers as well. Among them, Blessed Bartolo Longo, who saw in the beads a chain that links us to God.
It was John Paul II who in Rosarium Virginis Mariae turned his audience to the words Longo wrote in his Supplication of the Queen of the Holy Rosary, ending his letter with the words that are just as fitting on this October 7 Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary:
“O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain which unites us to God, bond of love which unites us to the angels, tower of salvation against the assaults of Hell, safe port in our universal shipwreck, we will never abandon you. You will be our comfort in the hour of death; yours our final kiss as life ebbs away. And the last word from our lips will be your sweet name, O Queen of the Rosary of Pompeii, O dearest Mother, O Refuge of Sinners, O Sovereign Consoler of the Afflicted. May you be everywhere blessed, today and always, on earth and in heaven.”
May these words inspire all the sons and daughters of this great Dominican family to preach the Rosary!