Reflection on The Rosary

There were eight children in our family and one of the daily prayers said together was the rosary. It was the last thing we did together and afterwards “we were free to go to bed”. Sometimes as children we found it a bit of a chore, and when my turn came round to say a decade I might leave out one ‘Hail Mary’. Indeed there were times when we all might conspire to say our prayers less deliberately (I was 9 years of age) and I recall getting the rosary over before the 9pm news on the wireless. For nearly two weeks Captain Kurt Carlsen had been battling to save his ship ‘The Flying Enterprise’ as it foundered in heavy seas off the coast of Ireland. Although sometimes we had to come in fifteen minutes early from playing football, as children we never considered saying the rosary a waste of time.

What seemed to undermine the value of the rosary at the time was all those distractions. How to concentrate on the ‘mysteries’ when the pigs you had just been feeding broke out of their compound. Far too often I would have to wrestle with the problem that ‘my mind was in the wrong place’. But in spite of the distractions there was something else going on which was far from being evident at the time. In between the distractions an appreciation of the mysteries was developing and in a sense a mystical relationship with Our Lady. The person who could be calm in traumatic situations could also induce calmness for her devotees.

Our parents made a value judgement that it would be a worth-while family exercise to say the rosary together and left us with a valuable legacy. It came as a result of their own deep appreciation of the rosary…In her later years my mother, now living alone, valued the visit from an uncle (Fr. Joe Ryan OMI) and during the visit they would say the rosary together. Then she got this bright idea on one occasion, she would tape-record the session. In his absence she would just press the ‘play’ button on the tape-recorder and they could say the rosary together. Even after he was dead twenty years they were still ‘saying’ the rosary together. The mystery of the rosary goes far beyond the endless recitation of the Hail Marys.

Fr. Frank Ryan OMI

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