“When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.’” Luke 1:41-42
When I was little, I associated rosaries with the nuns in “The Sound of Music.” I remember Maria’s abbey full of holy sisters, with their rosaries on their belts, and I thought to myself, “That’s for those who live in the church.” It wasn’t until one Advent when I was in college that I brought home Reflections on the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary (five Gospel accounts that tell of Mary’s pregnancy and Jesus’s infancy and childhood) that I, for the first time, gave the rosary a try – as just a civilian. But even after that, it wasn’t until my third child was a baby that I really began praying the rosary without being self-conscious. For years, I felt unworthy to try. But I realized that I’m not an outsider. I have access to these beautiful prayers, just like Maria and her sisters.
I began praying the rosary on my walks, pushing my baby boy in his stroller, and I was in a whirlwind of postpartum loneliness and exhaustion. I didn’t have any podcasts in my queue, and I thought, “Mother Mary must have understood. She gets this.” I started using my ten fingers as my beads, and my footsteps as my rhythm as I went through the prayers. It was hardly close to perfect, and I’m sure I lost track of my words and lost count of my prayers. But the connection I felt to the greater Gospel story was remarkable. I was looking at the life of Jesus through his mother’s eyes. It isn’t much different than when we were children listening to our grandparents’ stories around the dinner table. Our grandparents brought our family history to life for us with their memories and words. Similarly, when we pray the rosary today we are sitting at Mary’s feet as she lovingly brings us into her family story.
There is currently a national call for Catholics around the Country to pray Rosaries for our nation. The Archdiocese of San Francisco has 12,000 people committed to praying for the conversion of our Catholic politicians, specifically Nancy Pelosi. Roses for Pelosi has become a national mission. Two other movements, Rosary for America and Rosary Coast to Coast, called on Catholic Christians to pray for the salvation of our country during the month of October. There were also two Novenas for our Nation, which called for 54 days of the Rosary. But what exactly are we praying for?
The decades (sets of ten beads) are each beautiful in their own right. But my favorite part of the rosary is the small set of three lone beads. The first three beads on the Rosary (before we begin the 50 Hail Marys) ask God for the three Theological Virtues. “At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face,” Paul says in1 Corinthians 13:12-13. “At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. So faith, hope, love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” On each bead, we pray a Hail Mary prayer asking for each of the virtues.
“There is currently a national call for Catholics around the Country to pray Rosaries for our nation. The Archdiocese of San Francisco has 12,000 people committed to praying for the conversion of our Catholic politicians.”
Faith: We pray for a growing faith and trust in God. He’s in control. He’s got this! We can especially pray for faith in our fellow countrymen and politicians that they look towards God as they vote.
Hope: We pray for hope in the future and hope in a resurrection. We have to have hope in a life better than this. We can find hope in a child, or in kindness, or in conversion. There is something greater out there than the here and now.
Love: “But the greatest of these is love.” It all comes down to love. When we love God first, we simply cannot not love others. And when we love others, we naturally let go of selfishness and isolation. Yes, love comes with heartache and sacrifice. But love also brings joy.
Let us continue to offer prayers for the conversion of politicians’ hearts. May they see that their people deserve better than a choice between life and death. May they know the true power of faith in something bigger than themselves. May they find hope in a future generation. And may they love the truth stronger than they hide in fear.
When I complete my rosary on my walks, I find a new, lighter and deeper breath. My life doesn’t seem as heavy and dark. The rosary helps me to see in a new light, and it shifts my focus out of myself. Leave it to the love of a mother to bring a renewed sense of joy and peace. May she do the same for our nation.
Emily Clary has worked in Catholic education since 2005. She has worked in parish Faith Formation for the Diocese of Providence and the Diocese of Charlotte. She has taught middle school Religion and worked in Catholic School Campus Ministry in Woonsocket, RI and in Raleigh NC.