Most of this blog’s readers won’t be surprised to hear that the rosary is designed to be a contemplative prayer. Non Catholics, young Catholics, and Catholics who only pray only rarely often consider it a chore of redundant prayers that one must endure. To them, the redundant and boring prayer is broken only by some other redundant prayers, and a brief announcement of some mysteries.
If this sounds like you, with respect, you’re doing it wrong.
There’s a reason the prayers are redundant, and that reason is not to make it very boring so that it’s a sacrifice. The prayers set a rhythm that is intended to help the soul enter more deeply into prayer, while focusing on the events that played out during specific portions of Our Lord’s life.
Simply considering the mysteries respectfully while praying is called “meditative prayer.” But, when one enters into the mysteries and lets them play like a movie in one’s head – all while giving Our Lord the reverence and worship that He is due, then the rosary becomes contemplative prayer.
When one enters into this sort of contemplative prayer in a real way, one progresses quickly in what St. Theresa of Avila called “The Unitive Way.”
I’m unaware of any valid mystic of the Church who did not practice daily contemplative prayer.
In any event, there are people far more qualified than I to teach these things. There are (literally) books, wonderful, wonderful, books written only on contemplative prayer. If you’re interested in learning more, I strongly recommend that you read one of those worthy authors – but avoid everything after the 1950s. Authors started injecting leaven into the mental prayer “dough” very quickly, after that.
I gave that brief background simply to explain a little project I’m working on, and I could use your help. While attempting to teach a (very) young 15 year old boy some of these concepts while praying the rosary, it occurred to me that this sort of prayer is much more challenging for our constantly visually stimulated and entertained youth.
I considered introducing a scriptural rosary to our nightly routine, but I have always felt that a scriptural rosary interferes with my ability to enter contemplation. Don’t get me wrong, scriptural rosaries are fantastic – for training. They’re great for people who aren’t very familiar with the verses. But, in my humble opinion, once one knows the verses, he should stop interrupting the rosary to read them, and simply contemplate them. So, I ruled that out.
Then, I remembered the way things used to be in our beautiful churches and cathedrals. True, the artwork was often commissioned to honor God, but also to teach, and to help the faithful contemplate the life of Our Lord.
So, I decided to re-create that effect. Lord knows the kid isn’t going to get it looking at the bare Freemasonic walls at a Cranmer meal.
What I plan to do is screencast a slide show on the t.v. during the rosary of a few select images per mystery. I’m sure I’ll add to them over time. So far, I owe all of the Sorrowful Mystery images to Mel Gibson. Here’s what I currently have:
Agony in the garden:
Scourging at the pillar:
Crowning with thorns:
Carrying the cross:
Crucifixion (I need to get more – including one with the thieves):
It’s a start. Over the years, I’ve noticed that some of you are aware of some gorgeous artwork that I had never seen. So, I’m soliciting your help on this project, if you don’t mind.
What are your favorite images depicting relevant scenes from the Joyful and Glorious mysteries?
To some extent, the other mysteries are at a disadvantage in this project, as the sorrowful images are actual photos of humans and a bit overwhelming in detail. I also have to keep in mind the audience. Icons are not going to suffice. We need images that grab the attention of our attention-addled youth, while telling the story.
Will you help? If so, please feel free to post a link to the image below, or reply to me (if you know where to find me …) or email me at JonahofNinevah@icloud.com.
Thanks in advance – and remember – if you’re not quietly offering up your discomfort, praying, and worshiping our Lord while fasting, you’re not really fasting – you’re just dieting.