A few days ago, I began mulling the need to pray extra hard for a particular prayer intention. This special intention would be a long-term prayer commitment, and I thought that a daily rosary would be the best way to do it. It's a serious matter, and really needs the weight of many many rosaries to be offered up.
I don't pray the rosary daily. I have tried many times to commit to this. I know that world peace (and the liberation of Russia!) hangs on my daily rosary, and I am ready to have the whole war in Afghanistan and Iraq blamed on my failure to do it. It's all my fault - and yours too, if you don't pray the rosary daily. If only we all prayed the rosary daily, there would be no war, right? As my husband once said when pondering all the many chaplets and prayers that one could say daily plus daily Mass and other sacrifices one could make for the salvation of one's own soul: if you spend that much time in prayer, you would most certainly go straight to Heaven, since you would have no time to commit any sin. But I digress. And my particular intention is not world peace, although that is certainly a lofty goal and does happen to be in my daily prayers as a matter of routine.
In the back of my head is this desire to pray the rosary daily and an internal argument with myself about the practicality of this commitment. And so I sat while I ate my lunch and happened across this discussion at Danielle Bean's website about making time for prayer. I'm not too happy with some attitudes in some of the comments: some people seem to condemn those of us who aren't spending hours a day in formal prayer, and some people seem very willing to forgo formal prayer as impossible. Neither attitude is particularly helpful to those of us struggling with this issue and seeking ideas on how to improve.
And then I read one comment: who doesn't have the time to offer up a 15 minute rosary? Holy cow, I thought, a 15 minute rosary? How do you say a rosary in 15 minutes? I try hard to be reverent, to really meditate on the mysteries and imagine the sights and sounds, to conjure the emotions I would have felt had I been there and the significance of the event. It takes me 20 to 25 minutes to say a rosary! I rarely have that much time to myself, except when the kids are sleeping. And if the kids are sleeping, and I sit quietly for a few minutes, I am at serious risk of falling asleep myself!
And then I realized my mistake: I'm trying to say the perfect rosary. Without practice. Even after 10 months of running, I can't run a mile in 9 minutes (or 2 miles in under 19 minutes), but I don't expect to do so. In running, I seek daily improvements, always challenging myself, but never setting unrealistic goals. Why would I expect my prayer life to be any different? How can I expect to achieve 30 minutes of serious meditation if I haven't tried to do 10?
And so, I finished my sandwich and went to my room. It was a good day to start a rosary for my special intention. Pete was napping, and Jenny had also fallen asleep on our way back from voting. The other kids were getting their daily dose of TV, and I had 15 minutes until the show was over and we'd be back to the school grindstone. I quickly lisped out a rosary in the quiet of my bedroom. I prayed fast and it only took me 11 minutes. No, it wasn't perfect. But I was able to focus better on the mysteries (since I only spent 90 seconds on each one), and I did complete the entire thing without dozing off - a miracle in and of itself.
Is perfectionism holding you back from a more fulfilled prayer life? Consider joining me in a daily rosary if you don't already. World peace (and the liberation of Russia!) depends on it.