When we pray the Rosary, we’re called contemplate Christ’s life and to “pray with the heart” by Our Lady. St. John Paul II told us,
“With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love…The Rosary belongs among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation.” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 1, 5)
How might we pray more deeply with our heart, and more intimately contemplate Christ’s beauty and depth of His love when we pray the Rosary? Other than announcing the mystery of the Rosary as we begin each new one, where might we look for help in contemplating the mystery? So many options exist that it would be impossible to list every one of them. Yet, my wife and I have a few favorites to which we routinely turn in the daily Rosary we pray together.
Contemplate the Rosary with Scripture and with the Saints
Scripture passage represents the primary means available to anyone in contemplating the Rosary. The Dominican Fathers, through the Rosary Center, offer a nice, pocket-sized Scripturally Based Rosary booklet that some may find edifying. The booklet gives brief Scripture passages for each Our Father and Hail Mary, for each of the mysteries of the Rosary. We can never go wrong praying with Scripture and the Rosary together.
Dan Burke and Connie Rossini’s book, The Contemplative Rosary with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila, is a favorite of ours. It provides a scripture passage, together with a full-color art image, and reflections for each mystery for one to meditate on. The authors also suggest clauses to add to each Hail Mary to go along with the mystery. For example, on the first Joyful Mystery, the Annunciation, they suggest adding, “who was conceived in you by the Holy Spirit” after the first half of the Hail Mary, right before we say, “Holy Mary, Mother of God…” If you prefer to use an app on your smartphone to pray the Rosary, you can get the Contemplative Rosary App as well. This sis a great book that addresses prayer, contemplation, distractions, and the Rosary in a straightforward manner.
St. Josemaria Escriva’s Holy Rosary is a wonderful little pocket-sized book. Throughout the book, he combines brief bits of Scripture with poignant reflections on each mystery. Nicely done black-and-white drawings enhance the meditative experience for each mystery. He really draws us into the scene we’re praying about in the mystery. We especially like to use his reflections on the Sorrowful Mysteries when we pray during Lent.
Contemplate the Rosary with Father Peyton
Venerable Patrick Peyton, CSC, “The Rosary Priest” first published his Rosary Prayer Book back in 1953. Since then, his religious order has added the Luminous Mysteries to it. It contains nearly four dozen separate sets of reflections on the Rosary, roughly a dozen per set of mysteries., or about 230 separate reflections. The reflections address different themes or topics. Do you feel a desire to pray about forgiveness? There is a set of meditations for that. Or how about patience? There’s a set for that, and many more topics, as well. We go to this 325-page book quite often. This is one book that we highly recommend to families who want to engage their children in praying the Rosary. His writing is very easy to understand by faithful of all ages from the age of reason on up.
Fr. Romano Guardini’s Meditations
Servant of God Romano Guardini, the Italian-born, German priest wrote The Rosary of Our Lady back in the 1950s as well. This book does not include the Luminous mysteries, but it is a wonderful resource. It includes reflections you can use to contemplate the Rosary when you pray it, written in his erudite, yet very accessible, style. An example, from the fifth Sorrowful Mystery, follows:
“Mary connects us with all these happenings. It is she who causes us not only to look and meditate but also makes us aware that all these happenings concern every one of us, you and me. She is the reason that I do not run away when my faintheartedness becomes unbearable, but that I remain. She herself remained, ‘until all was consummated.’ And so must I.”
Fr. Guardini’s book provides a nice background on the Rosary, together with practical considerations for those who pray the Rosary in addition to the meditations. If you’ve found difficulty in praying the Rosary, Fr. Guardini’s tips may help remove those obstacles.
Contemplate the Rosary for 33 Days Straight
Jeff Klazura spent some time facing and recovering from serious health problems. Over time, he developed his book, 33 Days of Rosary Meditations. It’s exactly what the title says, with reflections on the mysteries of the Rosary for 33 straight days. The book contains a total of 165 meditations that include personal reflections, as well as quotes from Scripture and the saints. We’ve found that this paperback of about 140 pages provides some good spiritual food for thought when contemplating the mysteries of the Rosary. There always seems to be something in each set of mysteries to touch your heart.
Contemplate the Rosary with the Knights
Gary Kunz, a member of the Knights of Columbus, has revised the successful Rosary booklet that he first published in 1991. He and the Knights distributed 10,000 copies of that first edition. The newest edition, A Knight’s Rosary, has two sets of meditations for each set of mysteries. One set is shorter and designed for use in public recitations, for instance, before Mass, where there are tighter time constraints. The other set contains longer reflections for when time is not such an issue. On top of that, this book includes background information on the Rosary. It also includes several accounts of personal spiritual testimonies which are quite interesting, as well as the Divine Mercy Chaplet and some other prayers.
Pray the Rosary—Contemplate the Mysteries of the Rosary
We use all of these books, and others, at our home in the course of a year. We like them all. They all have something to offer. Each is quite different from the others. That’s part of the reason why we have them all—the variety is nice to have. Yes, in the end, simply meditating on the appropriate Scripture passage is all you need, together with an image depicting it if you’re more visually oriented. Still, it’s nice to have these, and other, resources to help lift one’s soul to God in the process. Besides printed or e-books, you can go to the Flame of Love Movement’s website or the Rosary Center’s website and access online Rosary Meditations, for example.
What’s most important is that we actually pray the Rosary. This is true whether you are young or old, man or woman. The Rosary is a powerful prayer. Our Lady continually has asked us to pray it in her apparitions over the years. Aids such as those covered here can help us fulfill her request.
“Seek in reading and you will find in meditation; knock in prayer and it will be opened to you in contemplation.” – St. John of the Cross, Sayings of Light and Love, 158