July 20, 2010

Fight summer boredom – pray the Rosary!

By Sean McPherson *
It is now mid-July. The sun shines at its hottest, the rain ceases to fall, and vegetation struggles to survive. In some ways, my spiritual life seems to undergo similar conditions as boredom dries up much of my urge to pray. Prayer can be difficult when we are tired, hot and anticipating the start of the upcoming school year. But there is still a month of summer left, and our spiritual lives need the water of prayer to make it through. I have learned that during this time in the “desert,” the best way to persevere is to be nourished by Our Lady, and one way to do this is the recitation of the Rosary.

I do admit that my answer to overcome boredom is a bit odd - a 20-minute long prayer of repetition on a set of beads. Would not a more exciting solution be better? Although it may seem like a tedious experience at first, I do think that the Rosary is a very exciting prayer (and so do a myriad of saints). Firstly, the prayer requires constant movement of the fingers from bead to bead. In other words, fiddling is necessarily. I personally use fiddling to focus in nearly all tasks which require attention. I really like to fiddle. Praying the Rosary satisfies the human need to fiddle, which makes anything more enjoyable.

Secondly, the prayer entails the use of the imagination. If prayed properly, the Rosary is not just 50 Hail Mary’s and five Our Father’s, but a sincere reflection on the life of Christ. By sincere, I mean that the events which are meditated on should be used to better relate to Christ in our own lives. This is done by letting God use our imaginations to teach us more about Our Lady and her Son. When I do this, I can more clearly understand how human Christ was, and how he went through the same sufferings, anxieties, and joys that I experience every day.

Finally, the Rosary is exciting because of its great tradition. All of my favorite saints - Pier Giorgio Frassati, Maximilian Kolbe, and Francis Xavier - made a habit of reciting the prayer daily as an essential aspect of their spiritual lives. All across the world each day, millions of Catholics also imitate the saints and recite the Holy Rosary. Every time we pick up the sacred beads, we are joining millions who have gone before us and live with us now in a genuine effort to communicate with Our Lord. The Rosary is a beautiful statement that says, “I am proud to be Catholic!”

The prayer beads of the Rosary, in addition to rejuvenating our spiritual lives, can also enhance our temporal lives. By learning to meditate and concentrate in prayer, focused on each bead, our attention spans are naturally refined. This leads to the ability to more easily read novels, listen to others, and reflect. All of these activities can fill our time and ease our boredom, and the concentration we learn in praying the Rosary can help us excel at them without needing to strain. Since starting the Rosary, I am less-easily distracted, and I become bored less frequently. My mind can focus on the things in my life which really matter, especially the joy of daily life.

I encourage you to pick up a Rosary- maybe you even have a pile of them that has accumulated over the years - and start trying to pray it, discovering the spiritual adventure that it can take you on each time you do. Whether it is once a week or every day, remember that it will nourish you in both times of joy and trouble. It will make you happy to be Catholic and even more attentive to the needs of others. Praying the Rosary with sincerity will certainly change you, and it will help you change the world. 
Sean McPherson is a sophomore at the University of Notre Dame, where he is studying chemical engineering and theology.

* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.


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