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- PRAYER & DEVOTION
Editor’s Note: Presented here is an unusual reflection on the recitation of the Rosary that we present for our readers’ consideration. In the Scriptures, Our Lord tells us to "pray always" and the following contains helpful reflections for us if we wish to pray when surrounded by distracting circumstances. However, Our Lord also commanded "go into your room, close the door and pray". Hence, the following advice is not meant to take us away from those prayerful times when we are silent and alone in church or in our own room. Our Lord tells us through the Psalmist, "Be still! and know that I am God."
Most people who are saying the Rosary are looking for quiet places to recite it: a solitary garden on a sunny day, the privacy of their homes, the church or a chapel. I had the idea of praying the Rosary in noisy places: at first it seemed insane, but it quickly turned into an extraordinary experience.
It first started at a bus station: lots of people, plenty of chatting and an impossible environment to pray in; or so it seemed. As I started the Rosary I detached from my environment, imagining the surrounding voices as voices surrounding Christ in His lifetime. It was a miracle: I noticed not only that I was NOT losing my concentration, but that in fact the WHOLE life of Christ had resurrected back into our times.
Thus, the gossipy voices of the people waiting for the bus were now Elizabeth’s neighbors during Mary’s "Visitation"; later, the excited children’s voices at the Toy Store became the Cherubim who had accompanied the Archangel Gabriel during the "Annunciation"; another time, people nearby engaging in conversation were now the shepherds talking before angels guided them to the Sacred Barn where Christ was born; children in classrooms were "Jesus in the Temple"; and the christening of a child echoed the voices of the "Presentation". The variety of voices that we can pray amongst is endless.
There are plenty of occasions where to pray the other Mysteries also. For the "Sorrowful Mysteries", what other voices can better serve as background than the drone of people in hospitals, prisons, or of people who are victims of and fighting against grave injustices? All the vocal background in Christ’s Passion time is there: hurt, anger, disdain, crying. Indeed all the voices from Christ’s tribulation time are here and with the same longing for love.
Conversely, being in the middle of a harmonious vacation, listening to people who are exchanging loving words toward each other, or listening to choral music with its sublime sounds, are just the right kind of echo to pray the "Glorious Mysteries" in. It dawned on me that Christ’s life repeats itself every day in our lives (as St. Paul said, "I live not now but Christ lives in me."), down to the same voices and intensity that surrounded Him in His historic time, 2,000 years ago.
It is true that all the great Catholic spiritual writers have warned to avoid voluntary distractions in prayer. However, our imagination is not necessarily "attacked" by the noisy voices of our world when we are praying in public, but in fact they can transport us to different stages in Our Lord’s very life, if we place ourselves in the proper disposition. Thanks to these voices, His life can be more real to us than we ever expected.