Monday, January 31, 2011

The Rosary: Staying Focused

There are several obstacles that someone who has committed to pray the Rosary will face. Since the Rosary is a long prayer one of the biggest challenges I face is staying focused. If you have read my other posts or if you are just familiar with the prayer, you know that the mental contemplation of the Mysteries is the main focus of the prayer. So getting distracted really detracts from the prayer.

Even if I am only praying 1 chaplet of the Rosary, it still takes about 20 minutes. In that amount of time your mind is bound to wander some. I have found several different things to help me when my mind begins to drift off to the worries of everyday life.

The first is to understand that this is going to happen and be watching for it. If I am not vigilant I can get through a whole decade and realize I have not thought one single time about the Mystery that I should have been contemplating. So before I begin the prayer I make a conscious determination to be watchful of my wandering mind. One tactic that I employ is to try to refocus my mind at the beginning of every Hail Mary.

Another helpful strategy for staying focused is actually a very old one and uses an addition to the "blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus" part of the Hail Mary depending on what Mystery you are contemplating. For instance, if you are on the 3rd Joyful Mystery you might add "who took on human flesh" or "who was born in Bethlehem". There is no right or wrong addition, but the addition should remind you of the Mystery.

Another strategy is very similar. Find a phrase or idea from each mystery that strikes you and repeat it and visualize it. For instance if I am contemplating the 1st Luminous Mystery I may repeat and visualize John proclaiming "Behold, the Lamb of GOD who takes away the sin of the world". Sometimes when I am having a very hard time focusing I may rely on this method very heavily.

The very, very best method that I have found to keep my mind from wandering is being familiar with Sacred Scripture. First and foremost, you should be familiar with the specific passages that describe the Mysteries of the Rosary. There are any number of resources to help you find the book, chapter, and verses related to each Mystery. The Scriptural Rosary that can be found at Rosary Army is a good place to start. If you are very familiar with these verses you can call them to mind at the beginning of each Hail Mary.

Although I never make it through an entire chaplet or Rosary without my mind wandering some the tactics above help me to stay as focused as possible and refocus when necessary. The Rosary is a long prayer and my mind will wander to some degree. Still, since the Rosary is a prayer of contemplation I need to fight as hard as I can any distraction so that I might benefit as much as possible from my time contemplating the life of Christ with the Blessed Virgin.


togh said...

It is hard to stay focused on the rosary, but then it is hard for me to stay focused on much of anything!
When I say the rosary because I am troubled or "scared" I find that my mind may wander to my problems but that in praying the rosary my answer is revealed or my nerves calmed. This is one of the beauties of the rosary - it is a prayer in which we can let ourselves go and let our minds take over the praying.
Even if your mind wanders while you are praying the rosary your soul is still benefiting from the experience and grace is still coming your way:)

Christian J High said...

I agree with that 100%. Much like going and sitting with Christ in the Blessed Sacrament when you are very troubled, scared, or confused. Then your troubles are your prayer and the wandering mind is part of that.

My desire to stay focused on the mysteries on a day to day basis with the Rosary though is important. Generally, I am not extremely troubled or scared or confused. Then my wandering mind might go to "Oh, I wonder how the Colts will do this weekend" or "Boy, I am really hungry, I can't wait to eat breakfast" This is not helpful to my prayer at all and I need to focus on the lessons that the mysteries have to teach. This kind of wandering mind is a sign of inattentiveness.

Robert said...

Thanks for the post. Marian Devotion is important. just the other day I was telling someone (who asked why pray to Mary, why not just pray to Jesus) That at the wedding of Cana Jesus told Mary It was not yet his time to perform miracles, but because she insisted He listened to her. I know I could use that kind of intercession.
I show my support of Mary by wearing Catholic Tee's. You can get some cool ones dedicated to Mary at this site.
Check out this website, cool Marian stuff!