By Fr. Edward Looney
Every Lent people want to acquire a deeper prayer life. For many, this includes the desire to pray the rosary daily. Now that we are several days into Lent, how is that Lenten resolution going? Have you prayed it faithfully every day since Ash Wednesday? After you finish praying, do you feel like you really prayed it? Or did you find that you were distracted and didn’t focus on the mysteries being prayed?
What if I told you I might be able to help you pray the rosary more faithfully and want to pray it every day. What if I told you there is a way of praying the rosary to curb distractions and focus more on the mystery.
Both Bl. Pope Paul VI in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus and St. John Paul II in Rosarium Virginis Mariae reference a custom of praying the rosary in which a person inserts a phrase after the name of Jesus in the Hail Mary prayer with reference to the mystery being contemplated.
When I learned this custom, I immediately began to practice in my life. Whenever I prayed the rosary I inserted a phrase to focus my meditation. To my amazement, it worked!
Then I read a classic work by St. Louis de Montfort called The Secret of the Rosary and at the end of the book he proposed two methods of praying the rosary, a longer and shorter form. The longer form included an intentional offering, a prayer that he had written to pray for a specific grace. The shorter form he recommended was exactly what Bl. Paul VI and St. John Paul II wrote about.
Since we are in Lent, here are the phrases he proposed for the sorrowful mysteries: thy womb Jesus in His agony; thy womb Jesus scourged; thy womb Jesus crowned with thorns; thy womb Jesus carrying His cross; thy womb Jesus crucified.
Since I found this method of praying the rosary helpful, I developed it further, beyond just the one phrase per mystery that St. Louis de Montfort recommended, extending it to each bead of the rosary. The phrases were inspired by praying with the scriptures at each site of the rosary mystery while I was in the Holy Land. The phrases for insertion are contained within A Rosary Litany which is available for purchase from arosarylitany.com.
People who have used A Rosary Litany say it has transformed how they pray the rosary one bead at a time. Inspired by our faith’s saintly tradition, they have found it to be a way of renewing the rosary devotion in their life.
Just as I renewed that pious custom of the rosary, I pray and hope that this Lent, you too might find renewal in your love for Jesus and Mary, especially as you pray the rosary!