by Karen Mahoney
For Roman Catholics, May is the month we celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary. Since the 18th century, we begin our month with the annual May Crowning. Young children often dressed in First Holy Communion dresses and suits carry roses, placing them in vases at the foot of the Mary statue in their parishes.
May Crowning is a tradition in which the faithful of the Roman Catholic Church honor the life of Mary for her role as the mother of Jesus and Queen of Heaven. The faithful place a crown of flowers on a statue dedicated to her and often a rosary is recited in honor of her sacrifice.
Similar to First Fridays, the month of June is a time to consecrate ourselves to honoring Our Savior�s Sacred Heart. We can honor Jesus by attending daily Mass, with a novena to the Sacred Heart and by praying a daily rosary.
For modern Catholics it may seem odd to pray a rosary once a year, let alone every day. Many have not grown up in households where vocal prayer was commonplace.
In my home, we prayed grace aloud before meals, but never a family rosary or alone on our knees before bed as we often see in old movies. We prayed silently in our heads or whispers at church, our prayers hushed so as not to call attention to ourselves.
“Say your prayers,” my Dad occasionally reminded me as I climbed the stairs to bed. But he never prayed with me, and neither did my mother. They never stayed to hear my “God blesses” or to pray with me. In all the years of my life, I never heard my parents pray at home.
We had a crucifix in the living room, and a dusty Bible on the bookshelf. We attended Sunday Mass with our Dad, and my mom, the reluctant convert, remained home. As if to make up for it, she often sent money to Catholic organizations and would sometimes receive rosaries as a gift for her donations.
“What do we do with this?” I would ask her.
She had no idea, and my Dad was too busy to show us, so the rosaries were tossed in a drawer. Forgotten.
It wasn�t until I was in my thirties that I began to embrace my faith and learn what those precious beads meant. In the beginning, I stowed away about once a month in the corner of my bedroom, silently fingering the beads and whispering the prayers.
I began the prayers in desperation, to help me through a difficult time in my life. Through my fingers traveling over the little bumps, God was working at smoothing the bumps in my life.
I began to heal.
As I began feeling the power of the rosary bringing peace to my life, I began praying more often, in the car, aloud with my children, before Mass, and with prayer groups. It became a source of comfort and identity and a link to Our Heavenly Father and to the Blessed Mother.
The Rosary is powerful and life changing. For those just beginning, take it slow, pray a decade a day and try to complete a rosary in five days. After you become comfortable with the prayers, try to pray two rosaries a week until you pray one each day.
Remember that the Blessed Virgin Mary herself instituted the rosary. In the 13th century, she appeared to St. Dominic, gave him a rosary, and asked that Christians pray the Hail Mary, Our Father and Glory Be prayers.
The rosary is a meditative form of prayer. Through the mysteries, we meditate on the great episodes that brought about our salvation by Christ with Mary as co-redemptrix.
Regular praying of the rosary is an excellent source of strength, especially in times of crisis. Somehow, we are delivered from adversities in a way we don’t know how it happened. Take time out to pray the rosary, especially in this month of Mary and the Sacred Heart and see how your life will change.
I promise, it will.