Knowing Mary in the Rosary

North Texas Catholic
(May 1, 2024) Faith-Inspiration

Our Lady of the Apocalypse is above the altar at St. Patrick Cathedral in Fort Worth. (NTC/Juan Guajardo)

By the time I was 30, I think I had prayed a full Rosary maybe 10 times. Outside of Mass, my life of prayer (when I prayed) focused on reading and meditating on the Scriptures, praise and worship music, intercessory prayer, and times of silence. Somehow, the Rosary never made it into my repertoire.

I liked the idea of meditating on the mysteries of the life of Jesus, but I found the rote nature and repetitiveness of the prayers unappealing. Plus, I wasn’t sure how the first few beads worked, and there weren’t yet newfangled websites and apps to help figure it out.

At some point, I started hearing stories of friends who used to be like me, good Catholics who didn’t pray the Rosary, who now prayed the Rosary and were finding much spiritual fruit. Because I trusted these people, I started “dabbling” in this ancient spiritual practice.

Around this time, I started noticing that many of the young Catholics I worked with loved to pray the Rosary, and as the leader of these ministries, I was compelled to pray along. In addition, priests during the sacrament of reconciliation would encourage me to consider praying the Rosary more often.

Suffice it to say that over the last 15-20 years, the Rosary has become more and more a part of my life of prayer, but more than that, my understanding of the role of Mary in my life has blossomed.

Inviting Mary to pray for me, now and at the hour of my death, has opened so much of what she has to teach me about the life of faith: Her “fiat” in the Gospel of Luke has taught me how to deeply surrender to the will of God (Luke 1:38). Equally impactful, her statement to the waiters at the Wedding at Cana where Jesus turns water into wine revealed to me the most important thing to know about prayer: “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5).

These lessons and the many times I have recited the Rosary have impacted me deeply. Especially when it comes to Mary’s role in my life of prayer.

Many non-Catholics think we pray to Mary in the same way we pray to God, but this is nowhere near the truth. The reality is that Mary is our best intercessor — she is not the one answering our prayers. Rather, and more profoundly, she’s next to us when we are praying, and she is praying along with us. 

Whenever we ask God for something, there are three possible answers: yes, no, and not right now

Here is how I see Mary interacting with me in these situations: When the answer is yes, she is high-fiving me in celebration. When the answer is no, she holds me and reminds me this answer is ultimately for my good. When the answer is not right now, she sits and waits alongside me for the perfect will of her Son to come to pass in my life.

Whatever the outcome of my prayer request, Mary has my back. She loves me because her Son loves me. She journeyed with Him in life, through His suffering and death, and is with Him in heaven, and now she is walking this same path with me.

Because Mary was with Jesus for His whole earthly life, she knows Him much more intimately than we could ever imagine, so it makes sense that drawing close to her through the communion of the saints will only bring about the deepest desire of her heart: for us to love Jesus — as much as she does. 

As we begin this long stretch of Ordinary Time, I encourage you to pick up a rosary from time to time and invite Mary to pray along with you, one bead, one mystery, one decade, one prayer at a time.

Jeff Hedglen

Jeff Hedglen has been working in youth, campus, and young adult ministry for the Diocese of Fort Worth since 1986. He is currently the Director of Campus Ministry for the University Catholic Community at the University of Texas at Arlington. Find his regular columns for the North Texas Catholic here

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