Madonna of the Rosary (with Mysteries of the Rosary) - by Lorenzo Lotto
(1539) Oil on canvas. Church of San Nicolo, Cingoli
Some thoughts about why I think the family rosary is vitally important...
I'm not a particularly structured person and have a terrible time sticking to schedules and routines. In fact, the hardest thing about having three of the children enrolled in the Catholic school down the road is the necessity of living by the clock: 7 am, alarm goes off; 7:45, get out the door if we don't want to be late for the 8:00 bell; 3:15 pm, pick up the children; 3:30 pm, make sure the children have changed out of their uniforms and are starting their homework; 8 pm, if I haven't made lunches yet, I'd better get after it; 8:30 pm, get the kids started to bed so they won't be dragging in the morning; midnight, wake up trying to remember what that school-related thing is that I forgot to do...
If I didn't have ten children and a husband to keep track of I'd be a gypsy and sell tie-died shirts out of an RV or something. I wouldn't even own a watch.
I remember from my own childhood the truth of the addage that children learn from what we do more than from what we say. One of our neighbors growing up used to strongly warn her children about smoking, but the mother was a pack-a-day addict; darned if her children didn't end up being smokers. Someone else we knew couldn't understand why his children had such foul mouths, even though he told them they'd sure as *%# not cuss around him! In the same way, I think that some Catholic parents are intent upon their children staying true to the Faith, and they talk the talk, but don't walk the walk. I've seen families build their days around sports events and practices or what television shows come on when and then, when little Johnny and Jane fall away from the Faith as young adults, their parents are dumbfounded. They always took the kids to church on Sundays, and the children had always been raised to know they were Catholic; they may even have gone through twelve years of parochial school. But, they didn't surround their children with the complete framework of their Faith.
If the Mass and the Sacraments are the foundation of a life of real faith, the rosary has to be the nails that hold everything else together. Praying the rosary is the best guarantee we have for personal growth as well as family harmony, and it's vital that it be prayed away from the church, as well as within it. It should be something that every Catholic can remember being part of daily home life from earliest childhood. Because it's shared by a family within the walls of the home, children properly raised will associate comfort, peace, and togetherness with the rosary -- with the prayers themselves, with the intercessor of the prayer, Our Blessed Mother, and with the Faith, in general. And, there's little doubt in a child's mind that religion is an important thing if Mom and Dad make a point to gather the family together every day to practice it. Thre's little doubt that they believe in the power of prayer when the children see their parents committing to Our Lady's hands the worries and troubles of their lives. And our world desperately needs prayers -- especially the prayers of children. A bond of prayer within a family is the strongest, deepest security that parents can give their children; it brings the Holy Family into the very heart of the home. And into the hearts of all the family members.
In short, there can never be harm in putting aside twenty minutes a day for the rosary, but there can be great harm in forgetting it. Our Lady of Fatima stressed to Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco how very important it is to pray the rosary. And the greatest of all mothers always has our best interest at heart. If we love our children and want to help them save their souls, we have a duty as Catholics to lead them to Jesus through Mary through the rosary.
Our Lady, Queen of the Rosary, pray for us!