by Gloria Hutchinson
(americancatholic.org) - Three centuries ago St. Louis de Montfort wrote a devotional guide called The Secret of the Rosary. In it he advises readers that "each mystery reminds us of [Christ's] goodness to us in some specific way and it is by these mysteries that He has shown us His overwhelming love and desire for our salvation."
St. Louis knew from experience that when we pray the rosary in a contemplative way, Christ's goodness to us in each of the mysteries will come home to us. It is only when we are "out to lunch" via mental distraction that the mysteries march by without increasing our intimacy with him.
Like the Jesus Prayer and other ancient forms of meditation, the rosary is, as John Paul II says, "a path of contemplation." When the fingering of the beads is not accompanied by reflection on the mysteries, the rosary may readily slip into the realm of "babbling many words" against which Jesus warned us (Matthew 6:7).
How do we avoid the mindless repetition that sometimes gives the rosary a bad name? How can we learn from Mary the art of pondering all these things in our hearts? Why do we have such trouble entering into the quiet mulling of contemplative prayer?
Probably nobody put it better than Meister Eckhart. The 14th-century Dominican mystic wrote: "God is always ready but we are not ready. God is near to us but we are far from him. God is within; we are without. God is at home; we are abroad."