Of all the many devotions practised by the Catholic Church, there is none so universally popular as the recitation of the Rosary. The reason is obvious - it appeals to all classes and conditions of people. Rich and poor, learned and ignorant alike, find in it one of their greatest consolations and spiritual helps. Wherever we go, East or West; from the humblest country homestead to the fashionable church in Mayfair; from the mysterious gloom of “Notre Dame des Victoires” in Paris to the proud Basilica of Saint Peter at Rome, we see the familiar beads in use. The Church tells us that this devotion originated about seven hundred years ago, and was first made known to Saint Dominic through a vision of our Lady. Whatever its antiquity may be, the fact remains, that over two hundred millions of Christians practice it, and thereby bear witness to its worth. When we Converts “lay aside the old man and put on the new” we are expected, in making a profession of our faith, to make also a general act of acquiescence in the devotions sanctioned by the Church. The latter is far too wise and indulgent a mother to expect us to learn all our lessons in a day. When, through storm and stress, we have at last reached the fold, she allows us at first to rest in her arms, and listens calmly and without reproof to our petulant declaration that we cannot practice what we do not understand. In her infinite wisdom she knows that we cannot dwell long in her fold whilst remaining a stranger to all that she holds sacred and’ dear. So she gently soothes her tired child; and bides her lime. Little by little, sooner or later, however, she has her way, and the once wayward one succumbs to the comfort of fingering the beads. Some Converts tell us that they practiced this devotion in their Anglican days, although they own to having done so in a shamefaced, surreptitious manner, which robbed it of half its charm. To most of us, however, it is at first strange and somewhat alarming. We are bound to retain at the outset some of our Protestant prejudices. The habits of mind of many years are not cast aside in a day. The fear of “vain repetitions” makes itself felt; of a mechanical recitation of prayers by the lips, in which the heart and mind have no part. It is highly probable, indeed, that our first recitations of the Rosary will have exactly the result we fear. The “Our Fathers” and the “Hail Marys” will fall from our lips, the beads will glide through our fingers, while our hearts will remain untouched by the great mysteries we are trying to commemorate. The spirit of the devotion evades us, while we are engaged in studying its outer form. The whole object of the Rosary is to keep before our mind’s eye and meditate upon the chief events in the lives of Our dear Lord and of His Blessed Mother. By the use of the Rosary the Nativity, the Passion and the Death of Christ (instead of being far-off occurrences, which happened nearly two thousand years ago) become the daily actualities of our lives, far more real and tangible to us, than the so-called realities which surround us. But at the beginning it requires study and a determination to triumph over first difficulties. Most Converts who have become used to it can bear witness to the fact that their Rosary has given them a more personal intimate knowledge of Our Lord’s Life and Passion than any amount of sermons, church-going or Bible-reading did in their Protestant days.
Alice M Gardiner, Paperback, ISBN 10: 1530876532, ISBN 13: 9781530876532