Nothing openly wrong with Martha, we are told, and we agree. However, it is clear that Mary, not Martha, was the one who had her priorities straight; and we might add that there might have been in good, hard-working Martha a hint of “look at me” attitude; something also in line with yours truly’s politically incorrect, but strongly held belief that women tend to compete for the attention of (manly) men; and he who has eyes to see notices it all the time.
However, yours truly couldn’t avoid thinking that a small Martha abides in him, too; trying, at least, and sometimes succeeding in causing him not to give to the things of God the attention they deserve.
The best remedy to this is, I think, something I have stressed out many times: habit.
If I did not have the habit of praying the Rosary every day, you can be sure my inner Martha would find plenty of things to do in preference to it; things of which I would easily persuade myself that they are – like writing for this blog, of course – just as important as praying the rosary. No, they aren’t. Like Mary, we must get our priorities straight first, and apportion our time according to them as a consequence of this. And this act of giving priority to what is most important, so beautifully spontaneous in Mary, is something that requires for most of us – and certainly for yours truly – a conscious effort.
It is only when I have recognised, when I have lucidly made the decision that praying the Rosary every day is more important than my sleep, that things fall into place. The habit comes out of a willed resolution, not out of there “being time” for it. We have to make time, not wait that there is time.
Time is what we have for what is important to us. Conversely, the way we employ our time says where our priorities lie. Even the act of not thinking this little truth to the end shows, in fact, that one’s first priority does not lie in deciding what is one’s first priority.
First things first.
Pray the rosary every day.
Sleep in the time that is left.
I know this has been said very often already, but as we are at the beginning of the year it might be fitting to say it again: after Mass, the Rosary is very probably the most important individual salvation tool at our disposal.
I have already written about the promises of Our Lady to those who pray the Rosary faithfully and devoutly and I will not go back on the details. What is particularly worth insisting on, though, is that the Rosary allows us to factually secure our biggest venture on this earth (salvation, compared to which every other aim simply disappears) at the very affordable price of…. twenty minutes of serious application a day.
It has been rightly said that our time tells everything about our priorities, exposing the inner logic of the usual “I haven’t the time” we so often use to avoid an issue. As there are 24 hours in a day and I sleep seven and work eight of them, there are nine hours a day on which to arrange my priorities. If, therefore, I do not find the twenty minutes a day to seriously pray the rosary (in the bus, say, or on the train, or in the car, or during lunch time, or whenever it is) it simply means that I have found things things which, together, take 540 minutes of my time a day and I consider, both collectively and singularly, a more pressing instance than reasonable security about my salvation.
I maintain, on the other hand, that once the priorities are clear enough one will not need more than some minutes of reflection to find the time to say the rosary every day, which will be even easier considering the decades can be split and prayed singularly. Now you might call me scrupulous (or a wretched sinner, that I undoubtedly am) but I can’t imagine the Catholic who is so confident of his salvation that he considers a 20 minutes investment a day an unreasonable price to pay.
Cela va sans dire, to pray the rosary every day does not, in itself, guarantee salvation; you can’t be Goebbels and think you are certainly going to make it because you invest the 20 minutes. But if you pray the Rosary faithfully and devoutly every day, you’ll know that Mary will powerfully intercede for your salvation, and that you will rather not become a Goebbels in the first place. The idea is that as long as you pray the Rosary faithfully and devoutly to the end of your days you will be saved in the end, but if you choose to be evil (perhaps thinking you pray the Rosary so you’ll be fine) you are very probably going to stop praying it devoutly every day before your day comes. A corollary of this is that as long as you pray the Rosary devoutly every day, you know you are on the right path to avoiding Hell (there’s no guarantee, of course, about the length and hardness of our permanence in Purgatory).
Is, therefore, twenty minutes of our time a day too heavy a price to pay? How important are all the activities which daily occupy the above mentioned 540 minutes (or how many they are in your case)? Where do our priorities lie? I do not know you, but I am a wretched sinner and a worrier, and this is the only thing in life I can really, really not afford to get wrong.
I’ll gladly spend my twenty minutes with the Rosary, then. It used to be a bit of a chore, you see, but it isn’t any more. It’s a handful of years now I have started to recite it everyday. Never skipped a day, or looked back.
You may want to consider making of 2013 the year you start to devoutly pray the rosary every day. it’s not a great price to pay.
Take it from me, you will not regret it.
I have often written about the Rosary and I will continue to do in the future, as I think that the Rosary is the most beautiful weapon (after the Mass) in the armoury of the Catholic and the motorway to salvation even for the, well, more difficult cases.
EWTN has on its website a short-ish but well-made explanation of this devotion with both a short historical excursus and some briefly but convincingly outlined arguments of why we should pray the Rosary.
I’d add to them that the devotion to the Rosary for one’s entire life has been described by the Virgin Mary as a sign of predestination. In short, this means that developing the habit of devoutly reciting the Rosary will have as effect that Mary’s intercession and the work of the Holy Ghost will allow us to die in the state of grace.
I can’t stress enough how important this is in the life and in the economy of salvation of every faithful. The daily recitation of the Rosary – and the many promises attached to it, most importantly the one outlined above – will help the faithful to get some serenity if they tend to have scruples, to look with confidence at moral improvement and at a good death if they are alarmingly sinful – and perhaps tending to desperation – and to give a quiet confidence and a beautiful, serene hope to all the others.
In very simple words, the practice of the devout recitation of the Rosary is the way a Catholic makes his salvation – to express oneself very bluntly – in some way “irrefutable”. If he perseveres in this devotional habit, Mary’s intercession and the Holy Ghost’s work in him will invariably lead him to a point where he improves his ways at least to the extent that the mercy of God does not deny him salvation. It doesn’t mean that one will become a saintly man, nor that this process will be a gradual or a visible one, nor that a long and painful sojourn in Purgatory will in this way be automatically avoided. Similarly, it is not like going to the gym every day, with the results being soon visible in direct proportion to the regularity and earnestness of the effort. Rather, it is like working every day to the building of an invisible shield with the promise that – if we persevere in this work like honest craftsmen – the shield is guaranteed to be, at the moment of death, strong enough to avoid Satan wounding one’s soul to the point of damnation.
It is, in a sense, a minimum guarantee concerning what is, in everyone’s life, the matter of most importance.
For this reason not only the importance of the habit of praying the rosary can never be sufficiently stressed, but at the same time the benefit of transmitting this knowledge within one’s own circle of relatives or acquaintances appears evident. For example, parents could make an effort to instil in their young children the habit of praying the Rosary every day at the same time as they decide to acquire this habit for themselves; even if there is no guarantee that these children, once grown, will keep the habit it is highly probable that one day – when life’s troubles knock at their door, as they invariably do – they’ll remember the experience and perhaps recover a great patrimony for themselves.
The Rosary is truly, truly important. So important that, in my eyes, it should be looked at with the same sense of importance with which mass attendance is observed, but with the notable difference that a daily rosary recitation is easier to achieve than mass attendance and the failure to attend to this devotion is therefore, so to speak, less easily excusable. I mean by this that one can pray the Rosary even on many of those occasion when he is not in a position to attend Mass: say, when ill or travelling.
If one is honest with oneself, he’ll notice that he does have the time to pray during the day, or before going to bed. As always, it is a matter of priorities and if one discovers that he can’t find 20 minutes for prayer in 16-18 hours of waking time, well this is a clear sign that his priorities are in dire need of re-adjustment! Conversely, if one decides that the daily recitation of the rosary does have priority he’ll soon discover that the opportunities to recite it are in a normal day – and if necessary by splitting the rosary in a decade or more at the time, as one is allowed to do – aplenty.
Forgive me, therefore, for coming back to the same argument again and again. If there is an issue worth of being repeated, it is this one. I also allow myself to stress the benefit of daily recitation of the rosary because – at least for me – this is the only way to make it work. It is in my eyes very difficult to take the decision to pray the Rosary, say, “three times a week” and stick to it, as irregularity of practice facilitates forgetfulness and mañana-attitude. Much easier is it, I think, to make of the rosary a daily habit. No forgetfulness, and no mañanas…..
Devout Mass attendance and devout Rosary recitation are God’s and Mary’s double whammy against Satan’s snares. You do these two and the rest will come to you by itself in the same way as if you leave your front door open in winter cold will unavoidably get in. By devoutly attending Mass and reciting the Rosary, you open the door to Heaven moulding you in such a way that Satan won’t win, guaranteed.
There’s no better deal in your life, no investment with a higher yield, no pleasure or joy that can compare with this.
Start taking the habit of praying the rosary every day. One day you’ll be so glad you did it.