The Rosary as Contemplative Prayer

The Rosary as Contemplative Prayer

Prayer styles and practices that lead to contemplation help us get out of the way of ourselves. They help silence our minds, so that we can listen to God. In this series, the Benedictine Sisters and Oblates share their favorite contemplative practices in the hope that they may help you listen, too. 

Legend sets the origination of the rosary in 1214, when the Blessed Mother was said to have given it to St. Dominic.

For Sister Sheila McGrath, praying the rosary creates a contemplative stance that nourishes her all day.

She combines it with an early morning walk.  

“I walk with the rosary every morning," Sr. Sheila says.

"I state my intentions as I walk down the stairs and out the door, then just pray the rosary as I walk around the lake. It helps me live in the present moment each day."

Praying the rosary, bead by bead, helps quiet and rest her mind, Sr. Sheila says. It leaves her free to be open and present to all she experiences on her walk. 

Learnings often come later, perhaps in chapel, perhaps at her desk. 

"God’s gifts are so evident at the beginning of each new day," she says of the flora and fauna that greet her. Light and dark offer their own lessons.

"The moon and stars, on some days, illumine the streets," she says. "Other days, it can be quite dark. And that’s how life can be."

Other days, a doe and her fawns might be the source of awe and wisdom.

"The frolicking fawns become still and curious as I walk by, while their mother remains watchful," she says. "I trust I will have some of that curiosity and energy as I meet various ministries and people during the day."

Contemplative practices quiet us so that we can listen with the ear of our heart, as St. Benedict wrote in his Holy Rule

What we gain is peace, wisdom, hope.

"These morning walks help me to meet each step of the day spiritually, physically and mentally," Sr. Sheila says. "They help keep me from getting caught up in past or future worries.”

The benefits are apparent all day long.

"I feel God with me in grief when a sad phone call is received, with me in joy when someone reports being given good results from a medical test, with me in gratitude when a meeting has moved along well," Sr. Sheila says.

Many contemplative practices can help quiet our minds and enliven our souls. Here are more to explore! 

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