A Mother’s Devotion

(CNS photo/Isaac Brekken, EPA)

What’s repetitive, long and boring?

If you answered the Rosary, you wouldn’t be alone.

The Rosary is perhaps the most popular of Catholic devotions. Though many speak of its wonders and its power, others are less than enthusiastic, viewing the Rosary as dry, time-consuming, ineffective. Yes, we’ll pray the Rosary for a funeral, or a holy day, or a special gathering. But taking the Rosary into our own hands is another story.

This is mine.

Like for so many other Latino Catholics, the Rosary was central to my family life growing up. As my mother summoned us, there was a silence that filled our otherwise noisy apartment. We’d gather around my parents’ bed, on our knees and go around expressing our intentions for the Rosary. The most popular among my brothers and me were that there be no more earthquakes (we had experienced the 1994 Northridge quake) and that we might always have food in our home (we liked to eat).

Then my mom would lead us on the mystical journey with Mary and Jesus. Besides the standard Our Fathers, Hail Marys and Glory bes, from her tongue would flow a seemingly endless train of poetic supplications. We knew we were reaching the end when we got to the litany, which my mom would recite by heart.

Time would pass, and as the kids got older and left home, our family tradition began to fade. Even when I started taking my faith life seriously as a young adult, it took me a while to truly make this tradition my own. My resistance came not only from the notion that it was long and boring, but also from those nagging questions like “Why do we need Mary?” “Why pray the Rosary?”

This all changed during an eight-day silent retreat. Having no one to talk to and no cell phone, TV, or radio to distract you really leaves you with a lot of free time—time that’s intended to be filled with prayer. Walking down the halls of the retreat house, I found a rosary and an instructional pamphlet, went to my room, and started praying. It was love, an instant connection with my family, with my mother. This is precisely what the Rosary is about: connection, community.

The Rosary connects me to my mother’s devotion. By this I mean the devotion of my mother here on earth and also the devotion of my mother in heaven. It shows me Mary’s devotion, her  boundless love for Jesus, a love so pure that I am moved not only to imitate it, but also to relish in it. Its mysteries bring me closer to her motherly joys and sorrows, making the presence of Jesus in our world and in my life that much more human and real. And because that love she has for her son extends to all the members of his Body, I learned I could confidently share my own joys and sorrows with she who is both cause of our joy and comforter of the afflicted.

This month of October, month of the Rosary,  is a good time to look at this age-old devotion with new eyes. Perhaps, like me, you grew up with the Rosary. Perhaps it’s something entirely new. Whatever the case, praying the Rosary can be a way of connecting with our Mother, and all the other mother figures in our lives and throughout history who, with devotion, have lived, loved and struggled to bring Jesus to us.

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