With season of Lent fast approaching, I wanted to spend a couple of days postings ways that I try and pray throughout the day. The first form of prayer that I do everyday now is the Rosary. It usually starts on the drive to work.
As a youth, my drive to work consisted of either listening to a morning show on a local rock station heading into work – i.e. J.C. Corccoran and John the “U-Man” Ulett, the Bob & Tom show – or listening to a station my father always had on while I was growing up (and I still listen to everyday – KMOX – the mighty MOX) and even into my adult years, listening to ESPN with Mike and Mike. Yeah, I know, not much on the spiritual growth side, but hey, I went to Mass on Sunday which fulfilled my obligation for the week (right?).
It wasn’t until about 1999 that I really started using my drive into work as a time for prayer.
The company I worked for at the time – Bodine Electric of Decatur – had asked me to start working from their Champaign office, which was about a 45 minute drive east of Decatur (where we lived). It was at that time I started praying a daily Rosary on my drive into work.
I say it was a daily Rosary but technically it wasn’t. I didn’t remember what the Mysteries of the Rosary where (Joyful, Glorious and Sorrowful), so I would say an intention for each decade and then pray an Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s and the Glory Be.
During that time, Sarah and I attended a Marriage Encounter retreat, and I took some of the free time offered to us that weekend to finally memorize the (3) Mysteries and (15) decades of the Rosary. It payed off, because after that weekend I changed to a true Rosary for those drives to work, and soon after I started hearing the whispering of the Holy Spirit to contemplate the five Sorrowful mysteries.
I did and these mysteries started dominating my thoughts.
The Agony in the Garden, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning of Thorns, Jesus takes up HIS Cross and Jesus DIES ON THE THE CROSS. The impact of these five sorrowful acts started weighing upon my mind (especially on Tuesday’s and Friday’s – the traditional days to contemplate the Sorrowful mysteries). The more I contemplated them, the more the inspiration came to write a song about these mysteries – Cursed Wood, Blessed Wood.
I haven’t written many songs in my life, but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, once I started putting the notes and lyrics onto actual paper – start to finish – it only took the better part of one (1) evening at my (grandmother’s) piano to write this song. Thanks be to God for giving me the ability to put those thoughts and feelings onto paper. I remember well playing it for the first time – for Al Miller (a close friend from St. Thomas the Apostle in Decatur) – after bible study one night. When I saw the expression and emotion on his face after playing it, I knew the feeling I HAD toward Christ’s Passion was the exact feeling Al experienced after hearing the song. After that night and to this day, I only play Cursed Wood, Blessed Wood two times each year – Palm Sunday and for our Tenebrae service on the Wednesday before Holy Thursday.
I am getting off point here though…
Praying the 3 mysteries – 15 decades – brought more whispers from the Spirit. Now my thoughts were “How do we go from the Finding of Christ in the Temple (the 5th Decade of the Joyful Mysteries) to the Agony in the Garden (the first decade of the Sorrowful Mysteries)? If I’m reflecting on the life of Christ (thru the eyes of Mary) while praying the Rosary – what about all the works that Jesus did?”
So I came up with my “Miraculous Mysteries”, where I contemplated (5) miracles that Jesus performed during His mission. I was so proud of what I wrote that I immediately shared these mysteries with (the woman I credit for showing me that it was OK to be “young” and pray) my beautiful wife Sarah.
She wasn’t too impressed.
The tradition of the Church was the (3) mysteries and she wasn’t about to stray from that tradition. Jump ahead about 5 years (after we had moved back to St. Louis) and a big announcement came from the Vatican that Pope John Paul II (now a Saint), who was a devout man of the Blessed Mother, had been inspired to write what he referred to as the “Luminous” mysteries – they weren’t “miraculous” but they did fill in the gap between the finding of Christ in the Temple and the agony in the Garden. Man, how does one compete with a saint? One doesn’t, so I dropped my “Miraculous” and started praying the Pope’s “Luminous”, as did my wife.
I did feel proud of the fact that a Saint of God saw the same gap in the time frame of the Rosary as I did.
I’m praying another Saint comes along soon and fills in what I see as the next “gap”.
What gap am I referring to?
In praying the Glorious mysteries, we reflect on the “Descent of the Holy Spirit” – Christ’s last gift to his Apostles before ascending into heaven. Now, answer the following questions: what type of men were the Apostles before the Holy Spirit descended upon them? Where were they during his Agony (asleep)…where were they during His scourging?…where were they during his Crucifixion? They weren’t there because they were afraid of everything happening. Now ask yourself the question: what type of men were they after receiving the Holy Spirit? They were men of God willing to leave all behind to spread the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. They were men willing to suffer and die to spread that good news. Quite a difference and I felt a need to reflect on that as much as I do the other 4 Mysteries, so I wrote down the following that make up what I call the Apostolic Mysteries:
1. The Acts of the Apostles
2. The Conversion of St. Paul
3. The Chair of St. Peter (where I pray for our current Pope)
4. The Saints of God…I have chosen the following saints; I ask for their intercession before reciting the Hail Mary:
St. Cecilia – the patron saint of music
St. Blaise – my parish growing up
St. Thomas the Apostle – my families parish in Decatur, IL
St. Mary Magdalen – my families current parish
St. Jerome – my first name and my patron saint
St. Francis of Assisi – my middle name and my favorite saint
St. Stephen – my confirmation name and the first martyr for Christ
St. Joseph – my role model as a father and a husband
St. Mary – my mother and the mother of Christ
Sts. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael – our archangels.
and the last mystery
5. All Holy Men and Women. I use this decade to offer intercessory prayer for the following:
My Dorhauer (extended family) and my wife’s family
Ruth & Paul
Richard, Megan, Patrick & Leanne Bauer
Cecilia, Garrett, Kelly and Karen Tripp
Jerome, Megan, Jerome III, David and Sally Starzyck
Grace, Chris, Aiden, Logan, Audrey, Bill and Sandy Johnson
Sarah and me – to remain true to our vows and reflect Christ through our marriage.
I have come to love these mysteries and decades of the Rosary and thank God for the inspiration to right them.
So, with all this done, you’d think I’d be satisfied – right? Not quite.
A few years ago, as a Lenten sacrifice, I wanted to come up with a 7-day Rosary. One that I would have a different mystery, each with their own 5 decades that I could pray as a 7-day devotional…that is how I came to write the Salvation Mysteries. My thought was: what would Mary have taught Jesus as a young child – Salvation History – right? It made sense to me so I tried to think of what 10 events would highlight the old testament, I did some research and came up with the following:
Salvation Mysteries I:
The Fall of Man (the sin of Adam)
God’s Covenant with Noah
God’s Call to Abram (who became our father in faith)
The Establishment of the Twelve Tribes of Israel
Salvation Mysteries II
God’s Call to Moses
The Ten Commandments
God’s Call to Joshua
The kingship of David and Soloman
The Writings of the Prophets
So, to make a long blog longer, it only took about 50 years of my life to come to truly appreciate the gifts of the Rosary. This is a beautiful way of reflecting on the life of Christ (along with a few enhancements) that Saints through the ages have done. I can’t stress enough to pick up your Rosary and begin praying the four mysteries (Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious) on a regular basis this Lent. Most people say it only takes about 15-20 minutes to do this – if it takes longer than that, so be it.
There is no downside to praying the Rosary, but the gifts that come from this devotion are unlimited.
Tomorrow I will continue with other ways that I pray throughout the day.