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A Rosary Story: Prayers Change Us

By: Lindsey Mitzel on April 22nd, 2023

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A Rosary Story: Prayers Change Us

family prayer  |  praying the Rosary

In the past few weeks, multiple family members have been diagnosed with chronic illnesses. During these same weeks, our family life has often felt chaotic and isolating as well. Support systems have been difficult to reach, and some friends are in the midst of their own struggles, busyness, and illness. 

To top it all off, we are raising four very young children, and our two youngest, a newly-minted toddler and an infant, have been struggling with a lot of sleep issues. During one of their many wake-ups, my husband in one room with the baby, and my cradling the toddler in another, I began to pray yet another Rosary. It has become my go-to prayer these days.

My husband and I pray it together, we pray it while our kids play nearby, rarely joining in, but usually quieting at least a little. We pray it in the car. I pray it in pieces throughout the day when I can’t seem to sit still for long enough, or one or several kids pull me away from my thoughts or my seat. I pray it while taking a walk, jogging, or in the shower.

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Sometimes I forget to pray the Rosary, or my day is so full that there haven’t seemed to been enough uninterrupted moments anywhere. I try to pray after bedtime, and sometimes I fall asleep. If I can’t sleep, I often pray the Rosary and usually fall asleep mid-prayer, or if not, will proceed to pray another mystery.

Last night, as I prayed through the Mystery of Jesus’ Ascension, I remembered that Jesus told us He must go to the Father so that we can receive the Holy Spirit. He tells us in fact, that if He doesn’t return to the Father, He can’t send us the Holy Spirit (the Advocate) (John 16:7). Jesus says, “It is better for you that I go.” This phrase was totally lost upon me until a homily I heard some time ago. In it, the priest pointed out that the disciples (and we) probably couldn’t imagine what could be better than Jesus living in their midst. They ate with Jesus, spent time with him daily, and watched as He performed miracles. They loved to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to Him teach.

Yet as the priest pointed out in his homily, Jesus incarnate was only with the disciples sometimes. Martha tells Jesus, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). Mary says the same to Jesus a few verses later. Jesus is constantly coming to the disciples, where he had not been with them previously (Matthew 14:22-33, Luke 4:38-44 just to name a few). Jesus leaves the synagogue and enters Peter’s house. People are brought to Him to be healed. He leaves to go to a deserted place and crowds come to Him and actually try to prevent Him from leaving there (Luke 4:42). Jesus tells them that He must leave. His purpose is to proclaim the Kingdom of God, and He needs to do that in other towns as well (Luke 4:43).

But when the Holy Spirit is given to us, He will dwell in us and be with us always, no matter where we go. I considered that Mary, Spouse of the Holy Spirit, was one heart with the Holy Spirit the whole of Jesus’ life, and in that way, not just merely a spectator to all the events of His ministry, but also a participant.

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While praying through the Sorrowful Mysteries recently, I reflected that they are my least favorite. When I thought more about it, I realized I had a similar aversion to the chaplet of Our Lady of Sorrows until a friend sent me a card explaining the devotion after our first baby died. I struggled with a lot of things then, but for the first time, I could relate to each of Mary’s seven sorrows in an intimate way. Just so, the Sorrowful Mysteries offer my mother’s heart a blueprint for seeing my children suffer, knowing they will suffer in this life, and grieving all the same that it must be so. As a mother, I finally understand just perhaps a fraction of Mary’s heartache as she watched and endured her son’s horrifying agony.

The word “suffer” has its origins in “bearing, carrying” and even in “bearing children” (thank you Romans, for understanding that!) (Online Etymology Dictionary). The word “Rosary” means garden of roses. Just as Thérèse of Lisieux would offer sacrifices to make her “spiritual bouquets,” each bead and decade and Rosary I pray can become just one in a whole garden throughout my life. Imagine the garden of all our Rosary prayers gathered from all over the world and throughout all time!

At Fatima, Mary asked us to pray the Rosary and to fulfill our duties in life, offering aspects of our duty for the conversion of souls (among other things). The Lord recalled a verse for me recently.

In the morning let me hear of your mercy, for in you I trust. Show me the path I should walk, for I entrust my life to you. ... Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your kind spirit guide me on ground that is level.” (Psalm 143:8,10)

I believe the path for me, in part, is to do my duty and keep praying Rosaries. It usually doesn’t seem like enough, and I also have plenty of moments of wanting less to do, but it’s what I have to give right now, and I think God wants me to try to humbly accept that. It’s so easy to think that I need to do more, especially when confronted with so many things around me that beg for change. But the beauty of Our Lady’s message, I think, is that our prayers do change.

Prayers change us, and they change the world. Yet our humble acceptance of living out our duty in life to the fullest extent, also means that peace begins at home (for most of us), as St. Mother Teresa said, and transforming the world looks a lot like everyone conforming their lives to the Lord’s will and humbly accepting His desire for their current state in life.

About Lindsey Mitzel

Lindsey Mitzel is a nurse practitioner and mom to four littles. When not wrangling with or reading to her kids, she can usually be found doing something outdoors. She appreciates dry humor, a good pun, and strong coffee. You can read more about her at Eight and a Half Months. Lindsey also occasionally writes for Be Love Revolution's Tiny Thoughts blog.