13 August 2014

Story of a Rosary

On the 30th of March 2013, I was gifted my Rosary. Anyone who has been around this blog for a while or who is exceptionally good with dates will know that was the day before Easter. Later that evening at the Vigil, I would be confirmed. Those three hourswhile many lament such a duration for Masswould be some of the best three hours of my life.

Before the Vigil, some family and friends joined me at dinner. Less than a year prior, I would have been surprised that anyone wanted to be at the Vigil with me. Sitting at a table surrounded by people who had so influenced my life and faith was gift enough. Still, some brought gifts for me. My aunt gave me a box with a card attached. I opened the box to see...

This Rosary, my aunt explained to me, was made by a woman who crafted and gave away Rosaries for free. As I lifted the Rosary from the box, my aunt continued, telling me she had the Rosary blessed. To anyone else raised in the Church and celebrating their Confirmation, such a gift would be normal, perhaps expected. It was so unexpected that anyone in the family would give me something quite obviously Catholic that I couldn't find any words which seemed proper. "Thank you" tumbled out at some point as I turned beads over in my hand.

I remember the first time I said a Rosary (or at least five decades worth). C and I walked around my campus at night, me trailing behind in the prayers, ruffling through a booklet's pages for the next mystery in streetlamp light. I remember the street corners we turned and the spot where I finally had the Fatima prayer down. After that night I said the Rosary daily. I know it didn't last for any grand stretch of time consistently, but I returned to it in early mornings, fell asleep to it at night or began reciting Hail Marys when faced with some anxious or nervous situation.

The cross of the Rosary surprised me, as it wasn't the usual crucifix. Instead, flowers cover the surface, which remind me of my Confirmation saint, St. Thérèse, who is associated with flowers (Little Flower, anyone?) and especially roses. It also reminds me of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who graces my Rosary with her presence on the centerpiece. In this depiction she is not crowned Queen of Heaven, not stricken with sorrow; rather she looks young, as if at the Annunciation when she says yes, where she obeys God and Christ is made Incarnate. She is ever faithful and abundantly feminine.

On the opposite side is carved Jesus Christ. Again I think of the Incarnation: Christ is made from Mary. On this side, it looks like love shines from His Sacred Heart. Still other times I look at it and I can see Christ instituting the Eucharist: instead of his heart, he holds the chalice. I'm guessing it isn't supposed to be both images, but I think arguments can be made either way from the picture.

As beautiful as the Rosary is, I was surprised to receive it, even on superficial bases. Red isn't really my color, yet burgundy beads abound. The crucifix was absent, which was strange since I had such fascination and adoration for the crucifix at Mass. As time went on, and especially this Summer, I realized how fitting each detail is to my life, not much more than a year later.

When I see the flower-covered cross, I remember St. Thérèse, my dear sister in Heaven whose intercession I rely upon. When I see Mary on the centerpiece, I want to become more like her in every possible way. When I see Christ, Sacred Heart version, I remember the great suffering He endures for us because He loves us, and I long to become holier, to ease His suffering, if only by a small amount. When I see Christ, Institution of the Eucharist version, I pray for priests: for their faith and love of God to increase, for valid Masses to be said, for an increase in the number of priests throughout the world, to one day have a son to give to God in the priesthood. I pray that all Catholics will truly, firmly believe in the Real Presence. I pray that we always reverently receive Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. When I see each red bead, I remember Christ's blood shed on the cross, wine changed into His blood and martyrdom (which each day seems more probable).

Perhaps it is advisable to have only a couple devotions, tops. It makes sense: you have to sacrifice the breadth of possibilities for the depth of understanding which can only be had in a few. Still, there are so many good values I should imitate. There are so many important truths which demand attention. There are so many valuable people who need love and prayers.

When I see my Rosary, I see the person I want to be, the realities I cannot deny and the men who make living as a Catholic possible. A Rosary is not just a collection of beads. It is a story of Christ and His Mother, of redemption, of love without bounds. It is patience and obedience, charity and good will, perseverance and suffering. It is my story linked together with that of Christ.

Already parts of the Rosary are showing signs of use, but I hope this Rosary is part of my life for a long time.