“Another article on the ‘Rosary?’”, I am quite certain a dear friend would quip. Actually, I had decided not to write one this year, for two good reasons: one, several have read my articles ‘A Rosary in Your Car!’ (2015) and ‘My Rosary by My Pillow’ (2016) besides an earlier one ‘Is the Rosary in My Pocket?’ (2011). All are personal reflections and my views on the Rosary remain unchanged; secondly, I had blocked this weekend to complete some long overdue assignments – so I needed to remain focused without any other ‘distractions’. But then, here am I actually putting down some of my reflections, with no particular or compelling reason! Or perhaps there is!
A couple of weeks ago I was interviewed by Lebanon’s leading Arabic daily newspaper and portal ‘AN-NAHAR’. The subject was on ‘yoga’ because some of the Christians here had gone all out of the way to demonize it. My experience with yoga is very positive. During the interview with Hala Homsi, the daily’s Associate Editor, I very spontaneously took out the rosary from my pocket and asked her if she knew the origins of it? To drive home a point, I shared with her the following:
The earliest evidence of ‘prayer beads’ is found in Greece as early as the 17th Century BC, and its actual use in prayer is traced back to Hinduism (3 BC). The followers of several major world religions including Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and the Baha’i faith, use prayer beads today. In several parts of the Middle East, it is not uncommon to see a Muslim fingering on a misbaha (even in the midst of doing business) or a misbaha dangling from the front rear-view mirror of one’s vehicle.(Christians in this part of the world do the very same)
It is understood that the Christian practice of saying the Rosary became a devotion several centuries after the birth of Christ. The Marian Rosary as a daily family prayer, gained prominence since 1917 after the Fatima apparitions, exactly one hundred years ago. The Christian Rosary of today was adopted from already existing Indic and other eastern religions and contextualized in the life of Mary and Jesus. Over the centuries, Christianity (and so have other religions) has constantly accepted and adopted practices, which have roots in other traditions and practices. A similar argument can be applied to yoga too! Besides, as Christianity spread, it had the openness to embrace other cultures provided these were not contradictory to the core values of the Gospel.
In 2011 in my reflection, ‘Is the Rosary in My Pocket?’ I wrote, “the Rosary for me is surely a bouquet of roses! It is a time for recollection, repentance, rejoicing, renewal and reaffirmation. Several times a day, I need to check if my Rosary is in my pocket…. It does not matter if it is entangled with my many keys… It’s still there, a great reminder that I should not miss praying my Rosary for the day…!”
In 2015, in ‘A Rosary In Your Car!’ after that meaningful experience with Rhianna and Andre, I shared, “I see the rosary dangling in the inside of their car in front of them. They surely need not have put it up there; but once again, they have made a choice! Was that rosary a sign of their motivation; of them wanting to help others! A reminder of Mary: that all-embracing woman, the Mother of Jesus – who reached out to her relative Elizabeth and ultimately reached out to all? Is it a reminder to them – and to all of us – that little selfless acts of kindness help in making our world a better place?”
Last year in 2016 in ‘My Rosary by My Pillow’ I reflected, “over the years, my Rosary became an ‘essential’ in my ‘carry-ons’ I have found it difficult to go anywhere without the Rosary in my pocket! I have oftentimes wondered if it is just a ‘superstition’ like the charms or amulets that people wear for ‘ good luck ‘ or to ward off evil. No, for me, it is much deeper: a sign of my faith! The fact that Mary my mother accompanies me in this journey of life; in the very same way she accompanied her son Jesus in the joyous, luminous, sorrowful and glorious stages of his life on earth”.
In 2015, I concluded my article with, “October 7th is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary in a month which has been dedicated to the rosary. Many of our families seem to have done away with the time-tested practice of the daily recitation of the rosary in the family; however, there are still some who faithfully carry it in their pockets, wear it around their necks and even hang it out on their inside rearview mirror of their car. I am not one who is easily given into ritual or religious props. Today, after that memorable experience with Rhianna and Andre, I ask myself, “do I see a rosary in your car? or if you don’t have a car, is there one in your pocket? And if so, does the rosary motivate you to reach out to others?”
The Rosary has rhythm indeed; it has movement and motivation; it has sounds and silence; it has prose and poetry; it has context and contemplation. Each of us is invited today to gear our lives to the rhythms of the rosary!
The Author: Fr Cedric Prakash sj, is a human rights activist. This is a Personal Reflection on the FEAST OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY October 7th, 2017.