Day 18

I'm betting I'm going to be sorry I wrote this one

I started a "This is what I've learned in six months" post that turned into "The things I couldn't possibly have lived without" type of post which then turned into drooling over the Moby wrap and Cetaphil cream and then I got REALLY BORED. And I can only imagine what that kind of post would do to you, my beloved readers. I mean, Cetaphil cream? Really?


(But still.)


So. Now I am sitting here twiddling my thumbs (or the typing version of it, at least) and listening to my inlaws try and figure out why the baby is fussing downstairs. Can you detect my detachment? My disinterest? My willingness to let someone else decipher the fussing? No? BECAUSE IT IS NOT THERE.


I am just going to tell you what I am thinking about. It is: The Rosary.


Not really. Well, sort of. I had this post brewing for later, in which I tell you all the things I find annoying* about Catholicism, the biggest fattest one being READING PRAYERS ALOUD. IN UNISON. IN MONOTONE. Ugh, I am shuddering just thinking about it.**

I just finished a series of discussions in a small group where we had read to everything aloud. Every. Thing. I thought I would die. It just goes soooo sloooow. And I read ahead. And I miss where I am supposed to pick up. And when you are reading prayers aloud, and in unison, it often feels like the meaning and feeling behind the words got left out somewhere around line two.

But today someone was talking to me about anxiety and how I should write things down, as an anchor. So when my brain goes off on what I call Broken Record Disorder, where I get completely fixated on one little thing no matter how untrue or ridiculous it is, I can refer to a piece of paper and bring myself back to my senses. So I am listening to this and trying to apply it, but all I can think about is: THAT'S why we pray like that. DUH! A foundation! Something to refer to! So yeah, while I much prefer my prayer to have a non-denominational flavor to it, I confess my mind often flutters off to, "Did Landry's dad seriously set that car on fire? What are the Friday Night Lights writers smoking?" and "how much pain will I be in if I buy those three inch heels recommended by my sadistic friend Maureen?" If I am reading a prayer aloud, my mind isn't going anywhere. Well, maybe it goes into, "Gee, I hate reading prayers out loud", but that's not that far away from what I should be thinking about.

It all made so much sense!

And so I am wondering about the Rosary***. Its potential as an anchor. Thoughts? Anyone?

*"annoying" does not mean "wrong" or "not useful" or "people should do this differently". In this context it means, "Your trusty blogger friend would rather be watching television."

**If you love reading your prayers out loud, MORE POWER TO YOU. I like reading and I like out loud, just not at the same time. Let's agree to disagree.

***I am not lumping the Rosary into "annoying". Although it certainly was the summer I took a bus ride to Paris with a ten-year-old who recited her Hail Marys over the loudspeaker so we could all pray along. Just that it is a Catholic prayer, that is rote, but in a good anchoring way, which is possibly the point, and I am considering it. As something I do more than once every five or six years.



I agree with you on the reading aloud. I was in the low reading group when I was in elementary school because I hated reading aloud but I could read anything at all silently.

blog nerd

HOLY COW! It's like my standard Catholic Nerd Advice to use the Rosary for anxiety.

There are some great Rosary downloads for your iPod.


I love these entries reflecting on your faith. Its hard to do in America and its definitely not cool if you don't live in Texas or Georgia. I was telling a friend the other day about marcus and his hell anxiety and they immediately said "you aren't religious are you?" like I just announced I had large open sores on my face. I wasn't sure how to respond other than "kind of not really"
Anyway loving your entries! especially that you found yourself closer to God during college at a time I was running the other way. Very interesting.


You are so funny. I hate, too, the reading aloud, especially when it's looooong, made-up "prayers" that don't end up sounding anything like prayer at all. I always wonder if any Protestants are visiting on those days, and get embarrassed. Hee. But yeah, your point about it being an 'anchor' is a good way to look at it.

I like the Rosary. Yes, my mind wanders pretty good during those 50 Hail Marys, but it's usually to things that I need to be thinking/praying about, anyway, and I determine that God's letting it wander that way *on purpose.* When I get to the next Mystery, I always have to concentrate again, so yeah, it's for sure an anchor-prayer. :) Will be interested to hear what others think.


I'm with el-e-e on the Rosary. I think of it as "white noise" so that I can relax or concentrate on important thoughts. Also, my mom always said it made her feel connected to others since its a common experience with so many other people around the world.


The baby is sleeping through the night. I honestly don't know what we did to deserve such a miracle, but it makes being stranded in a hotel somewhat bearable.

I have a hard time focusing on the Rosary when I pray it by myself, but I enjoy praying it in groups (like, before Mass) or to a CD with music. There's something very meditative for me about a sung rosary. It takes twice as long, but I am on the road a lot, so sometimes it helps with that useless car time.


Ok...question. I've been a non-denominational christian all my life, but a couple of times i attended mass with my aunt (my mom grew up catholic). I have a question about some catholic practices. Why do you have to repeat the Hail Mary so many times? Is there a purpose or a symbolism to the number of times its said? Also, you know when you see the statue of the virgin or whatever, why do you have to do the cross thing? Is this just a form of respect or does it mean something? Just curious. Oh, I just thought of one more....since you attended both Mass and ND services, what do you think are the major differences between the two branches(they are both christianity but i think you know what i mean, right)? Just have 10 more days of NaPoBlo or whatever...thought i'd provide some material. :o)

Megan Elizabeth

Reading out loud: Can't. Stand. It.
I've known how to read since I was about 4, but nobody found out until I was 8 or so and they made me do it out loud. Hated it.

Rosary: I am bad with this. I use it as an insomnia remedy. Here's an idea: if a whole Rosary seems intimidating, try just a decade. Even I can pay attention for a decade.

Kate P

My mom can't stand it but I drive home most weeknights with a rosary tape in the stereo. Nothing fancy--it sounds like a bunch of people in a basement praying together. I'm still not perfectly understanding in traffic but it has definitely eased certain anxieties. Also sometimes I pray the rosary during Adoration, because I know when I say the Hail Mary, Mary immediately turns and honors the Lord (so I've been told).


Yes, the rosary is surprising in its ability to focus my mind, while also letting it wander. I usually don't have beads with me, so I end up saying extras to be sure I got them all.

Also, where did I recommend 3 inch heels, I ask you? I did no such thing. 2.25 is the highest heel on the list of shoes I sent you. I would never start you off on 3 inch heels! Harumph.


READING PRAYERS ALOUD. IN UNISON. IN MONOTONE is bad because actually, we're supposed to be singing the prayers in unison in plainchant. :) Spoken Mass is basically an aberration.

The Rosary is great as an anchor...and I use it to fall asleep too. :) But don't forget that the "important thoughts" you should probably be concentrating on is the Mystery of the given decade you are reciting.

"Why do you have to repeat the Hail Mary so many times? Is there a purpose or a symbolism to the number of times its said?"

A full rosary has 150 Hail Mary's (most people who pray the rosary regularly do 50 a day). The rosary developed as a substitute (for the illiterate) for praying all the psalms, which is the main reason why 150. There are also 3 preliminary Hail Mary’s…and some people have linked this to the 153 fish Peter caught in the net after the Resurrection – but this is just speculation, nothing official.

“Also, you know when you see the statue of the virgin or whatever, why do you have to do the cross thing?”

You don’t have to. I don’t. But I do make the sign of the Cross on a lot of other occasions. It’s the physical part of a prayer: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.


Oh, and most Catholic habitually start and end prayers with the sign of the Cross, and sometimes we do pray in front of statues. Is that what you mean by "when you see the statue of the virgin or whatever"?


I get very distracted when praying the rosary with people who do so in that extremely monotone fashion. Or the Creed. I, myself, am NOT a monotone person and always seem to help myself pay attention when I emphasize certain words or fluctuate my voice. It makes me feel like my prayer is actually part of a conversation rather than just this wrote memorization. so, of course, my mind wanders and all I can think about is why can't so and so put some inflection into their voice. I find so much beauty in the Tradition of the Church, especially through our memorized prayers....especially in the fact that so many of us, while praying the exact same thing, pray so differently. Our unity of faith is magnificent. Now I just need to be more disciplined to actually PRAY MY ROSARY! Loving your Catholic Month, by the way. :-)


Thanks Atlantic. Its nice to know the reasoning behind things. I also really didn't realize that when you prayed the Rosary you did the Hail Marys. I thought that was separate. If you happen to see this question, just curious, but is there any other prayer that is said with the Rosary or is it always the Hail Mary?


There are lots of different ways, but here is the most common one I know.

The basic unit of the rosary is the decade - this is one Our Father, ten Hail Marys, one Gloria Patri (“Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, amen”), and many people now add the Fatima prayer, “Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell and lead all souls to heaven, especially those most in need of your mercy.”

What most people mean by “saying the rosary” is five decades, with certain introductory and concluding prayers. The sequence is usually: the Sign of the Cross, the Apostles Creed, one Our Father and three Hail Marys (often associated with faith, hope and love), the Gloria Patri, then five decades as described above, then Hail Holy Queen, and the Sign of the Cross to finish.

One really important part of the rosary is associating each decade with a mystery. There are three traditional sets of five mysteries, and people often pray one set per day:

The Five Joyful Mysteries: The Annunciation, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, the Nativity, the Presentation of Jesus in the Temple, the Finding of Jesus in the Temple

The Five Sorrowful Mysteries: The Agony in the Garden, The Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross, the Crucifixion

The Five Joyful Mysteries: The Resurrection, the Ascension, the Sending of the Holy Spirit, The Assumption of Mary, The Coronation of Mary

Each mystery is announced before its decade, and then you can meditate on the mystery while saying the Hail Marys; there are lots of different ways to do this. There’s a saying that the vocal prayers are the body of the Rosary, but the meditations are its soul.


I just popped back in and realised that the third set above should be Glorious, not Joyful. :)


I was looking for a website that recites the Hail Mary out loud in French, so I could learn it in French, and say it out loud in public, and no one would no what I was saying. I ran across your site that way. I say Hail Mary over and over while I am driving. I'm always learning something new.


When you say the Glory it was in the without end, do you cross yourself while saying to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit at the beginning of the prayer?

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