7 Ways to Better Engage the Mind and Heart While Praying the Rosary (#5 - 7)
5. Contemplation using the Imagination
St. Ignatius experienced God speaking to him through his imagination, as well as, through his thoughts and memories. This 500-year-old tradition (based on the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola), called contemplation, includes praying with the imagination. A method of contemplation is to place oneself in the bible scene, becoming a character in it. Imagining what the character would say and do, as well as listening for the sounds, and noticing the smells, is an active way of praying that engages the mind and the heart.
During the 3rd Joyful Mystery, the Nativity, I imagine myself at the manger as a shepherd. I am gazing upon the Holy Family, sitting on straws of hay. The air is crisp and I can smell the fresh hay. The Virgin Mary, St. Joseph, and of course baby Jesus, are there.
Then the Mother smiles at me and asks if I want to hold baby Jesus and I reach my arms out to hold Him. I’m always sad at the end of this mystery when I hand baby Jesus back to Mother Mary. One of these days, I will silently ask our Holy Mother if I can carry baby Jesus with me to the next mystery, which is the Presentation of Our Lord, where Simeon and Anna are waiting.
The most popular prayer using rosary beads, aside from the rosary, is the Divine Mercy Chaplet. There is a version of this Chaplet that is sung and it's a beautiful, moving format. With the same idea in mind, sing the rosary; find a version online or use a tune to a familiar song. If you are musical, play an instrument and compose your own tune.
7. Write it Down
It’s gentler to gaze upon distraction, acknowledge it, then move on, than it is to yell, ‘Cut, Cut! Out, Out!” Rather than banishing the distraction, write down the random thought, and then continue. Later, go back and read your list. You never know, your distractions may contain some insights from the Holy Spirit.
Praying the rosary calms me down when I’m anxious or nervous. It helps me feel closer to the Apostles and Saints. It encourages me to carry my cross, especially during the Sorrowful Mysterious; it strengthens my bond with our Lord and develops a desire to keep Him company in His agony.
Through the rosary, I've discovered the tenderness of a Mother who stays with us during this life’s journey, as she did her Son’s. Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!
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