Friday, October 07, 2005

"Meditate on the Meaning of the Rosary"

This was an instruction I received for a recent penance. Today is the Feast of our Lady of the Holy Rosary, so I thought that this would be a good opportunity to put something out there.

My first rosary was mailed to me by my girlfriend (now wife) shortly after I decided to become Catholic. It was one she had made with simple plastic beads and nylon string. It didn't survive the trip; my guess is Canada Post accidentally ran over the envelope with a steam roller.

From then on, my rosaries have come from many different sources. I received some from priests, bought some from Catholic stores, made a few, and my current one was made by a co-worker who makes them for the express purpose of giving them away. He doesn't scrimp on his quality either; he uses semi-precious material like hematite and mother-of-pearl. I put a crucifix on this one that has the Stations of the Cross on the back, and I keep it in my pocket in a rosary pouch (really just a sanctified change purse) to prevent tangling.

But what's the purpose of it? I know prayer is good, and I know it's good to meditate on the mysteries of our faith. But why?

We all know that Adam and Eve were created for perfect communion with God. But they rejected him for the lies of the wicked one, and were unable to face God without shame.

Jesus and Mary, by contrast, were created to be Adam and Eve 2.0, so to speak. The Bible calls Jesus the New Adam; the Church calls Mary the New Eve. Both were conceived without the stain of original sin (if you're a Protestant who objects to that, read this, this, and then submit to this).

And yet while they were created without sin, they could have fallen just as Adam and Eve did. Perfection is thus a fragile yet secure state; it can be easily shattered, but with due vigilance it can remain totally impregnable. Their free will was just as present as mine is. So while it seems on the surface that I, a sinner, could never relate to the lives of Jesus and Mary, they are in truth an absolutely perfect model to live by; an examplary, attainable standard.

What then, is the benefit of meditating on them? We are commanded by St. Paul (see verse 8) to think about whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, excellent, and praiseworthy. The definition of meditate means "to focus one's thoughts on."

So when I meditate on the lives of Jesus and Mary, it requires focus. Focus is hard. My job doesn't allow me to focus on something; it requires "multi-tasking" which means that my mind has been trained to focus on a lot of things. But that's an oxymoron; if you're focusing on a lot of things, you're really focusing on none.

In fact, I think the last time I focused on anything was when I put a 1000 piece puzzle together a few months ago. Hobbies, when properly practiced, obtain all of your focus because they are activities that you are genuinely interested in... which implies that a lack of focus on my rosary is due to a lack of genuine interest in it.

That somewhat alarms me.

So how do I generate interest in it? I'm sure that keeping on praying it won't do it, although I don't plan to stop.

Maybe if I look at the things that I do think on, and then apply my problem-fixing-formula...

  1. Find the absolute... focus on the holy
  2. Where am I in relation to it?... focus is on about 10% holy, 85% neutral, 5% unholy
  3. Get to the absolute... I think I'll work on the unholy stuff first.
What is the source of my unholy meditation? TV, and my imagination. Specifically, improper utilization of the procreative gift. Someone once told me the best way to remove bad imagery from your mind is to memorize Scripture; it's seriously the only thing that's been demonstrated to erase the part of the brain that records pornography.

Been a while since I've memorized some Scripture.

It's true what they say about Catholics vs. Protestants: Catholics don't read the Bible near as much. It's partly because Holy Scripture isn't the core "meat and potatoes" of the faith; that's the Sacraments. But meat and potatoes are no good without some veggies... and I'm a big believer in consuming all the spiritual food groups.

So it's settled... to help me delve more eagerly into the Rosary, I will memorize more Scripture.

Who have thought I'd ever utter words like that?

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