For decades, I’ve collected rosaries. My favorite types are vintage and made with faceted glass beads of all colors and shapes. I would get them at flea markets, thrift shops, garage sales, and online auction sites. Once in hand, I would carefully wash and dry my “new” rosary and place it with the others. Sometimes, I would hang several in my window or in my garden so the sun would hit and make them glisten. I knew very little about these splendid adornments other than they were called rosaries and they were Catholic. The only reason I gave for collecting them is that I found them to be remarkably beautiful.
After my Paw died (see my first blog post), it’s as if my rosaries started to speak to me, “hold me, learn about me, find out my history and purpose,” they’d whisper. Not coincidently, a RCIA director at a Church that I sometimes attended Mass gave me a one sheet paper on how to pray the rosary. You can see and print it out here: http://www.newadvent.org/images/rosary.pdf.
I was enthralled! If you look at it, you can see that from an “outsiders” perspective, it’s rather involved and complicated. Still, I loved it, saved it, and made a commitment to myself to one day learn how to pray the rosary. Yet, other than study it, I didn’t take action.
One cool October day, I went to Mass at the church in my local parish. Not knowing the Mass and not yet even thinking about becoming Catholic, I sat in a pew with no others—in the back. When the faithful went up for communion, I stayed, knelt, and prayed the best I knew how. As I was praying, the kneeling rail next to me gently went down! My friends, there was no mortal near! I knew a supernatural being was next to me. Then, I heard, “My daughter, pray one ‘Hail Mary’ everyday for me. No matter what, pray it.” Shaken, I put my kneeler back up and took a seat. When I looked down at the kneeler next to me, it too was back up!
From that day on, I started to pray at least one “Hail Mary” everyday. I grabbed my “How to Recite the Holy Rosary” and read the prayer out loud. Quickly, I memorized it and prayed it kneeling, sitting or standing at home, in bed, and while driving. There were times that I prayed it while I was angry, happy, sad, or joyful. Praying it “correctly” wasn’t my concern. Being “correct” can stop people from starting. In the beginning, the important thing was that I prayed it daily. Perhaps I was putting the cart before the horse. It didn’t matter. What mattered most was that I prayed at least one Hail Mary every single day.
The Rosary Opens the Gates of Heaven
It didn’t take long before one Hail Mary turned into two and three and four. My thirst led me to learn the first five prayers of the Holy Rosary, which I grew to pray faithfully daily. Then, I learned to pray the five decades and concluding prayers, and lastly I layered in the mysteries. It was and remains a beautiful process of unfolding, just like a blooming rose (each bead represents a rose; e.g., the Rosary). I continue to learn more about this glorious gift from our Blessed Mother, Queen of the Holy Rosary. A small act of faith literally cracked open, ever so slightly, the gates of Heaven and led me to full Baptism into the Body of Christ by the Holy Catholic Church.
Did I learn to pray the rosary the “right way”? Eventually, yes, I did and I am ever fine-tuning and perfecting it. Are there other ways of learning it? Yes, your way!
Readers, I invite you to learn and say one Hail Mary everyday. I can guarantee that no harm will be done to you. And, perhaps, the gates of Heaven will open for you as well.
Hail Mary, full of grace
The Lord is with you
Blessed art thou among women
And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus
Holy Mary, mother of God
Pray for us sinners
Now and in the hour of our death
In my next blog post, I’ll recount my upbringing so you will get a sense of why all of this is so remarkable.
© 2017 Anne Manyak
Image by Anne Manyak