Editor's Note: This challenge was intended to be a very brief post (5 bullet points, 200 words)... but as you can see, I get pretty fired up about not only Challenges but the Rosary! Happy Challenge-Accepting!!!
As Saturday was the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary & First Saturday (so Marian!!), it seems fitting to make this week’s Weekly Challenge a Rosary Challenge!! So dust off those beads and find a quiet place, it's prayer time.
There will be 5 Challenge Options in honor of the 5 decades--if your heart is crying "Je Choisis Tout!" you can try a different challenge each Week Day! I concede, 7 challenges it is:
(1) Just Pray the Rosary. This challenge is for those of us who avoid the Rosary at all costs. We sometimes treat the Rosary like flossing--we know we should but we only really do it because we don't want the dentist to fuss. The Rosary is an incredible gift and opportunity that can open us up to a greater love for Mary, Jesus, the Father, the Spirit, St. Joseph, not to mention the Wedding attendees at Cana, the people hearing Jesus preach about the Kingdom of God for the first time, and even the other people who must have been looking for Jesus in the caravan... The Rosary isn't just repetition, it's a meditation on the Mysteries of the life of Jesus and Mary. No shame if you can't remember them. I've included a link here.
(2) Get Intentional. Or Reeeally Intentional. We are often better at doing things that are good for us when we do them "for" someone else... I'm more likely to skip the last piece of chocolate cake if I know someone else is going to enjoy it. But if it is just me and the cake alone in the house--I wait for no man. Pray a rosary this week for someone--or 50 someones (50 gets difficult, I would limit it to 5.) One of my dearest friends had a birthday on Friday. Anticipating this challenge, I prayed my whole rosary for her (Checks Off Challenge #2). It was a very moving experience for me. With each decade I really thought about her life and the gift her friendship is to me. I thought about some intentions I know that she has and others that I can guess she has. One thing that came up in prayer was realizing that Mary must have prayed for her friends too--she must have contemplated what a gift they were in her life. She must have smiled to herself when remembering their fits of giggles from working too late in the carpentry shop. She must have gotten a little emotional thinking about how her friends were there in times of heartbreak and loss. She must have smiled that full-of-grace smile as she contemplated the Resurrection and the joy her friends would know when all would be reunited in eternity.
(3) Joyful Mysteries Challenge: These mysteries are so cute. Whittle Baby Jesus asleep in the hay, unsanitary birthing conditions, and the terror of losing your child in a crowd. Pray the Joyful Mysteries this week in preparation for Christmas--I know what you're thinking... you haven't even had your first PSL of the season. Aunt Katie, it's too soon! Hobby Lobby doesn't think so. Christmas decor is out in the stores--why not take 20 minutes to ask ourselves "What needs to change in my life now so I can be better prepared for Advent?" If our nieces and nephews have already started making Christmas lists, so should we. What do we want this year? Peace? More quiet time? Balance? We have less than 2 months until our mini-Lent kicks off. The Joyful Mysteries remind us the Reason for the Season and that it's time to start asking Mary and Jesus for what we want.
(4) Luminous Mysteries Challenge: These mysteries are often forgotten about because we literally forget them... What's the Third Mystery? Is that when Jesus heals someone? Or when He pulls that coin for his taxes out of a fish's mouth (still my favorite Bible passage)? I give away no answers here--it's the Weekly Challenge post! You look up the answer! These mysteries are some of my favorite because they connect the whole story together--what a beautiful gift St. JPII provided when he added these mysteries in 2002!
(5) Sorrowful Mysteries Challenge: These Mysteries make us uncomfortable. Pray them anyway. Dedicate each decade to one of the heavy, heavy burdens of your life. Don't have 5 heavy burdens? Save the extra mysteries for thanksgiving that you can't think of any burdens!
(6) Glorious Mysteries Challenge: These Mysteries are, well, mysterious. And often the ones we understand the least about theologically. Pray these mysteries with this request of God: "This faith you have gifted us with is so beautiful and so complex... I know you want me to know more about it... and I want to know more about it, but I get overwhelmed with where to start. Help me to grow in not only relationship but knowledge of you, Lord."
(7) Say Thanks: At each Hail Mary say THANK YOU to Jesus for something in your life... that's 53 Thank yous. You're going to love this one.
BONUS CHALLENGE: Disregard the above challenges and pray all 4 sets of mysteries in one sitting. Meditating on the Life of Mary and Jesus from conception to heavenly glorification is a life-changing practice. It takes about an hour, but it makes for one very holy hour. [You can read about my own experience of this here: Through a Mother's Eyes.] Think about it--we love to sit down and talk with our friends and family, reminiscing about good times and bad, retelling the same stories over and over and over again. This practice of praying the whole rosary is like that--like sitting with your grandmother and having her retell the stories of her childhood, and then how she grew up to meet your grandfather, and the life they began together, and when your mom or dad came into the picture and the hijinx of their youth... then hearing about high school stories and college life--where everything inextricably cost a quarter and they had something called a "phone booth"... then tragedies happen, people die, people move, things change, but then you remember your reunions, the birthday parties, the weddings, the funerals, the road trips, the late nights. The infinite inside jokes. When we sit with Mary and Jesus and contemplate the Mysteries of the Rosary we are hearing our family history--and not just the fun stuff like the Old Testament--the beauty of our family coming together. We hear the story of our own adoption, redemption, salvation. We learn more and more about who our Mother truly is. We sit at the foot of that Cross and get to know our brother Jesus. We get to be reminded about who we are and what we are worth--not the person we keep trying to be. We sit and listen instead of talking. We sit and wait instead of grasping. We sit and we are all those words we've ever wanted to be--strong, docile, gentle, sweet, humble. We sit and we learn who our Father is. We learn His Love for us. We learn who the Spirit is, and that He's still with us today--keeping us company until we get to be part of that embrace. Forever. And it only takes about an hour.
Even now as I'm typing this I'm amazed at how easy it is to just shrug off the gift of the rosary--even the gift of prayer. Because I'm "busy" or I'm "too tired" or "I'll think about that tomorrow." And the truth is I AM busy, and tired, and plan on doing it tomorrow... but when we do this (and I do it much more often than I like to admit to you and to myself) we are robbing ourselves of peace, robbing ourselves of joy, robbing ourselves of grace. God loves us whether we talk to Him or not. So talk to Him. Mary was kind enough to give us the words when we don't have them.
Humbled as usual,