The rosary is a powerful spiritual tool for meditation. While meditation grows in popularity as a means to better mental, physical, and spiritual health, many people, including many Catholics, overlook the rosary as a meditative tool. It is sometimes seen as too simple and therefore as superficial. The rosary is simple, but the gentle repetition of its prayers makes it an excellent means to moving into deeper meditation. It gives us an opportunity to open ourselves to God’s word, to refine our interior gaze by turning our minds to the life of Christ.
By focusing on the lives of Christ and Mary through meditation on the mysteries, we learn about ourselves in relation to God. Mary herself is an excellent model for the daily practice of meditation. She received the word of God through Gabriel. She pondered God’s word in her heart. She took in the events around her, capturing them internally and carrying them within her like a treasure. This is the essence of meditation—receiving God’s word and making it our treasure.
And our choice. As Richard Foster notes, “in meditative prayer God is always addressing our will. Christ confronts us and asks us to choose. Having heard his voice . . . we are called to life-transforming obedience.” Meditation gives us the option to be transformed. We must choose it.
You may have objections. “I’m not a monk living in seclusion. I don’t know a thing about meditation. How can someone like me meditate?” But meditation is for all believers, not just for monks like Thomas Merton. As Merton himself reminds us, “We must not imagine the early monks applying themselves to a very intellectual and analytical ‘meditation’ of the Bible. Meditation for them consisted in making the words of the Bible their own by memorizing them and repeating them, with deep and simple concentration.” We don’t have to make meditation complicated to make it meaningful. The rosary contains the necessary elements for simple meditation. Praying it with “deep and simple concentration,” recalling the events of the mysteries and pausing to think about them for a moment, can draw us into a deeper relationship with God—the goal of meditation.
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Elizabeth M. Kelly is an award-winning speaker and the author of six books, including Reasons I Love Being Catholic, which won the Catholic Press Association award in 2007 for Best Popular Presentation of the Faith.
With thanks to Loyola Press and Elizabeth M. Kelly, where this article originally appeared.