When I began to quarantine in earnest again a week ago, one of the things I promised God (and, really, myself, because I was the one who would benefit most) was that I would pray the Rosary every day. Now, there’s a bit of backstory to this promise. You see, back when I was in the convent, part of our daily prayer routine was to pray at least one set of mysteries of the Rosary each day. It was one of those things that if we missed it for any reason, we had to “confess” it to our directress at the end of the day, and get a penance. And it always seemed to take up time that I secretly wanted to spend doing something else, so I had a bad habit (no pun intended) of rushing through my Rosary so that I could get on to the next thing. And then, of course, I left the convent and, shortly thereafter, the Church, and I didn’t pray the Rosary for many years.
One of the first things I bought for myself when I returned to the Church after more than 45 years away was a Rosary, which I then had blessed. But every time I tried to establish praying the Rosary as part of my daily routine, I kept coming up against the same roadblocks: it was hard to set aside a time to do it, and it was hard to devote the time it took. For awhile, I did fairly well by setting aside the time right after lunch; then when I began having little ones here all day, that schedule did not work and I couldn’t seem to give myself priority time for it in the evenings. And I still struggled with it seeming, somehow, burdensome.
And so, when it came to pass that I was going to have a LOT of time on my hands, the thought came to mind that this was an ideal time to reestablish a daily routine with the Rosary, and when I made this promise to God and our Blessed Mother and myself, I also prayed for the grace to enjoy it.
One of the things that always seemed to get in the way was the perceived need to set aside everything else and simply pray the Rosary. Unfortunately, when I did this I usually ended up having a nap. The rhythm and routine of the prayers simply relaxed me that much. And I know all about the tradition that when we fall asleep praying the Rosary, our guardian angel finished it for us, but I felt like that was really asking a lot and that I wouldn’t be getting the full benefit this way.
Perhaps it would be ideal to simply sit and pray the Rosary, but if that wasn’t working then I needed a different approach. So I begin to explore, and I found a nice app-within-an-app in the Rosary section of the Laudate app where I could use an on-screen representation of a Rosary to follow along, and I could knit on my current project while I prayed. I guess I’m just a multi-tasker at heart; I’ve never been able to just sit and read or watch TV without something in my hands, and it seemed that solitary prayer was much the same.
So I began, this past week, and what a lovely experience it is turning out to be. After lunch, I gather my knitting and set up my app, and away I go. And by some miracle (I really should not be surprised!), it turns out that my Rosary time is done in a flash, and I enjoy exploring some other daily prayers in the Laudate app before I go back to my “regularly scheduled programming.”
Best of all, this open and unhurried time has led to some wonderful moments of meditation and insight. I’ll go out on a limb and say that the simple act of having something for my hands to work on actually opens up my mind, my heart, my soul, and it’s a wonderful time of peace and reflection.
Our Lord really has a marvelous way of using the very surroundings that he gave us as a means of getting grace into our lives.
So now, finally, to the point of today’s title, “The Expectation of Fulfillment.” Most days, I find that my meditations on the mysteries of the Holy Rosary revolve around Mary’s involvement in the particular event, and what she might have thought or might have done in the moment. This feels like a fruitful way to pray the Rosary so that I get to know Mary better, and it helps me remember to turn to her throughout the day.
This past Thursday, while praying the Luminous Mysteries, the thought formed in my mind that in the events reflected by these Mysteries (all the Mysteries, really), we see how Mary and early followers of Jesus lived in an atmosphere of anticipation and expectation of the fulfillment of God’s promises throughout the history of salvation.
Because they lived in this state of anticipation and expectation, God’s promises were often, if not always, foremost in their consciousness and their experience of the world around them. They lived their ordinary day-to-day lives, of course; they did all the mundane things we all must do to live and survive and thrive in the world Our Father has given us.
It seems to me like in our modern world, we’ve strayed from, even lost, to a great extent, that connection with God — that anticipation and expectation of the fulfillment of his promises. The world isn’t any bigger than it was in the time that Jesus walked on it as a man, or when his mother and his disciples and the early Christians went about their daily lives; but we have filled it with more and more things and ideas and inventions and entertainments and distractions, so much so that our focus is drawn to what we’ve filled our world with, and it is drawn away from what God would fill us with.
What a blessed relief, then, to set aside this time each day to pray the Rosary, and to reflect on those events that form the foundation of our beliefs. Perhaps in doing so, we can be led willingly back into the full anticipation and expectation of God’s fulfillment of his promises. Perhaps in renewing our focus on God’s promises, we will be open to their fulfillment in us. And perhaps we will then be open to the fullness of grace he desires to shower on us.
I know this: At this point, so late in my life, I look forward eagerly to my Rosary time every day. I enjoy this time of reflection and prayer, and I learn some new little thing each day that brings me closer to my creating, redeeming, sanctifying God through the Mother he chose for himself and then gave to us. I can’t regret any of my past foibles too much, because God for sure used them to help me grow into this present state.
And I can most certainly live with that.
Mary, beloved mother of Jesus, pray for me that I may fully enter into the mysteries of your Rosary and in doing so, may more and more fully experience the love of your son, Jesus. Amen.
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