Five Decades in a Day: A Rosary Challenge

October is here, and every Catholic would surely know what that means: it’s the month of the Rosary!

When Pope St Pius V exhorted all of Christendom to pray the Rosary to beseech the Blessed Virgin Mary for her protection, the victory it secured caused the Pope to institute a feast in its honour – and with that the month has been inextricably linked to the Rosary ever since. It has come a long way since being an imitation by the laity of the Divine Office – and also being endorsed by our Lady to St Dominic to combat the heretical Albigensians. Even with its shining track record, how many of us actually heed the call of our Lady at Fatima to pray the Rosary daily? Sure, most would think that they should really pray it more often – but think that it requires a great deal of effort to slot it in their busy schedules. However, is it really a Herculean task to undertake?

To put that to the test, a few friends and I decided to pray the Rosary every day for the month of May (another month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary!). Since we were across time zones, and were sheltering at home due to the global pandemic, we decided to do it over Zoom at 7:00 AM British Summer Time.

At first, the technical challenges were daunting. We couldn’t respond simultaneously as the delay would result in a cacophony of confused words. Unstable Internet connections and crashing laptops would forcibly disconnect someone from the call. Most frequently, the 40-minute cap on calls made on the free plan would have us either rush the Rosary to ensure we beat the timer, or we’d have to interrupt the Rosary to end the call and then re-enter the call!

Despite all that, somehow, we made it to the end of May – and five months later, we would still be praying weekly over Zoom! Surely, our Blessed Mother has been instrumental in keeping us together as we grew in devotion to our Lady! Every week, I would look forward to those calls to pray and catch up with them, and pretty soon five decades only felt like 5 minutes.

Indeed, we could definitely attest to the efficacy of Our Lady’s intercession, as the prayers of some of my friends were answered! God does work in mysterious ways, as it is oft-quoted – but we have a strong inkling that Mother Mary might have a role in it!

What I’ve learnt from the experience is that where there is a will, there is a way! Despite a global pandemic forcing us to retreat into our homes, we could still gather virtually and pray – for did not Our Lord say ‘For where two or three are gathered together unto My name, there am I in the midst of them.’? It reminds me a lot of how the first Christians, in the face of violent persecutions, gather in secret in the catacombs of Rome!

It is also very heartening to share one’s devotion to Our Lady with friends, as we all beseech our Blessed Mother and meditate upon her life and that of her Son – offering many ‘Hail Mary’s to her like a brilliant bouquet of roses. We even shared some of our intentions with each other, and that helped us bear it better – for a burden shared is a burden halved.

Last but not least, (for me at least) it has helped me inculcate a habit of saying a Rosary every day. With previous attempts, I’ve muttered away ‘Hail Mary’s under my breath on the bus – or as I walked to lectures, but more often than not I end up cramming in seven on Sundays during Mass to ‘anticipate’ any Rosaries that were forgotten in the week. However, by saying the Rosary with friends, it has reminded me to not rush it, but instead savour the Mystery as I contemplate it when saying a decade. Every time it is different, a treasure trove of contemplative delights as one lifts one’s mind and heart to God!

With that, why not say a Rosary every day for the month of October? Say it with friends over Skype, or Zoom, or Discord – or whatever telecommunication application suits your fancy. I am sure you would be surprised how easily five decades can fit in 30 minutes, and yet accomplish so much!

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