Tomorrow we celebrate Our Lady of the Rosary. It is a memorial celebration of the Church and not a major feast of the community; however, it does allow me to take a moment to remember the gift of faith passed down in my family.
The Rosary was the 'go to' prayer of my family. If we arrived at church a bit early, we knelt for the remainder of the Church Ladies leading the Rosary. When we were driving a half-hour or longer, there was time for a Rosary (sometimes I wonder if this was to encourage peace in the backseat filled with 3 little girls). Mom kept an extra set of beads in her purse for use at visits to the hospital, nursing home, or to pass on to the antsy kid at Adoration. I also remember hearing the rhythmic rise and fall of Mom and Dad praying this together at night...a pretty comforting way to fall asleep as a kid.
This family reinforcement didn't stop with Mom and Dad. Grandpa and Grandma made it a nightly requirement when we would stay over at the house on the farm. I remember wondering why they got to stay in their comfy chairs while we were kneeling along the edge of the couch like ducks in a row. Here the Rosary picked up in pace. The German nature of my grandparents didn't dwaddle between Hail Mary's. They had a Mary, Our Lady of Grace statue (bolted to a stand) with some faux pink flowers arranged at her feet and a glow-in-the-dark Rosary draped over the back of the stand. She was passed on to me after Grandma died and Grandpa moved to the nursing home. He wanted his granddaughter the nun (he was a little proud) to have her. Now she hangs on the wall of my cell no pink flowers at her feet but that same glow-in-the-dark Rosary glimmers in the night.
The Rosary continues to be a prayer of comfort for me. Dealing with a rough bout of insomnia, I pray the Rosary from my pillow and search for the beads the next morning (Mom always said my guardian angel would finish it for me). Needing some quiet time to clear my head, I pray a Rosary to focus and let go at the same time. Last Christmas I asked for a Rosary on CD to make the commute home a time of prayer rather than frustrating traffic. I still say a Rosary on long car trips and find peace in the prayer before or after Mass.
However, I think this quote from Pope John Paul II's 2002 Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae says it better:
...Contemplating the scenes of the Rosary in union with Mary is a means of learning from her to "read" Christ, to discover his secrets and to understand his message.
This school of Mary is all the more effective if we consider that she teaches by obtaining for us in abundance the gifts of the Holy Spirit, even as she offers us the incomparable example of her own "pilgrimage of faith." As we contemplate each mystery of her Son's life, she invites us to do as she did at the Annunciation: to ask humbly the questions which open us to the light, in order to end with the obedience of faith: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to your word" (Luke 1: 38).