I did not grow up praying the rosary.
For the first half of my life, my rosary hung on the wall, draped over the framed guardian angel prayer that was also never prayed.
By the time I got to high school, I tried to fumble my way through praying the rosary from a little blue pamphlet. My few failed attempts did not exactly foster a deep desire to pray the rosary.
The Creed at the beginning intimidated me, the Fatima prayer was totally foreign to me, I didn’t understand how to meditate on the mysteries, and quite frankly, I didn’t see the point.
When I entered college, I started hearing bits and pieces about “the power of praying the rosary.”
Though I still didn’t quite get the purpose, I tried praying it a little more - because if it had helped so many people, and so many Catholics did it, there must be something to it.
I still have ups and downs. I’ve felt peace fall upon me in the midst of intense anxiety after praying the rosary, and there are many more times I’ve fallen asleep gripping it tightly in my hand because I was too exhausted to actually pray. I’ve heaved out Hail Marys as I dragged my body along a path I was hiking. I’ve turned to the rosary turing times of distress.
Yet still, I struggle to pray it.
Despite learning about how the rosary has helped people, and even experiencing help in my own life through praying it, I still cringe internally whenever someone brings up praying a rosary.
My husband had the idea that we pray the rosary every night; I thought it was a little much. My rosary still sits mostly unused in my purse - on the off chance that I suddenly felt the urge to pray it.
Ladies, I suck at praying the rosary. I get distracted too easily, I don’t get how to meditate, I’m selfish about my time, and I’m a little spiritually lazy.
Then along came the chance to read Praying the Rosary like Never Before by Dr. Edward Sri. (Quick disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for my honest review).
The book’s title has some pretty big promises, and I am happy to report that Sri’s book lived up to them. This book is all about meeting people where they’re at when it comes to praying the rosary.
The first portion of the book explains why we pray the rosary and has some quick Marian apologetics. It is a blend of history, apologetics, and real-life applications. This was a solid start to an excellent book, but what really made me love this book was the second section.
The second section (and the bulk of the book) was focused on digging into the mysteries we’re supposed to meditate on. It started almost like a guided Ignatian meditation - drawing you into the moment. Sri then provides some key context for the mysteries regarding their place in culture, Scripture as a whole, and Christ's salvific plan. These beautiful chapters truly brought these mysteries to life.
The book is intelligently written - but in an approachable way. Sri provides some excellent analogies, and the advice given in the book to pray the rosary better is very realistic. The reflection questions at the end of each chapter challenge us to go deeper, and they would work well for both a personal meditation or a group setting.
My only criticism is the rosary graphic at the end of the book is of really poor quality, but rating this amazing book any lower for that would be ridiculous.
Though this book would obviously be best for a Catholic, I truly believe that any Christian could benefit from reading this book. Even if the Christian is adamantly against the rosary and believes that any devotion to Mary is idolatry, I think they would love the chapters of the mysteries (then they can go back to the beginning and understand the truth about the rosary and Marian devotion).
Honestly, if you are only going to read one book this year, it should be this one.
I’d love to say that this book completely changed my prayer life and I now pray all 20 mysteries every day. Not only would that be a lie, but it’d also be missing the point. This book isn’t about suddenly developing a JPII-esque devotion to the rosary; it is about praying the rosary better than you are now. And that’s what I’m doing, one decade at a time.