My mind likes to wander, keeping my thoughts on a subject for longer than 15 seconds can sometimes be a challenge. My short attention span wreaked havoc on my ability to complete a Rosary until the Holy Spirit inspired a perfect plan for my brain. The beads on one of my favorite rosaries just happen to slide. As I was fingered my way through the prayers, I thought how it sort of resembled a Chinese Abacus. Suddenly, I thought, “What if I use each bead to as a counter – creating a ‘spiritual abacus’?” Now as I pray my Hail Mary's, I recall a particular person or intention as I moved from bead to bead.
Being a very visual person, I actually picture the person or where they live. That often leads to my mind shifting to either another person in the same house or another intention related to the same subject matter. Soon I find myself organizing intentions from decade to decade – praying for 10 women having babies; 10 neighbors from my childhood, or 10 people in need of work or new jobs. Before I know it the Rosary is complete, and I had remained on task the entire time. The best part, much needed prayers had been offered for at least 55 people – though that count is typically much higher as multiple names would sometimes pop into my head half way through the Hail Mary!
The ‘Spiritual Abacus’ mindset worked wonders to keep me focused (most days), however, there were still lots of external forces in my home vying for my attention. One day the Holy Spirit showed me a great way to overcome that obstacle as well. As I sat down to be the first prayer in a 54-Rosary Novena, I had a nudge to head outside to walk and pray. At first I chuckled to myself at the thought – I do not DO outside. There are bugs and air (which can sometimes be very cold or oppressively hot), not to mention walking on the roads near my home can be dangerous. Since I could not shake the nagging desire to get outside; I obeyed and unwittingly launched what is now my (nearly) daily Rosary walk habit.
Quickly I discovered that not only could my rosary walk help me focus but could also help answer my prayer to become a healthier me. I could even use my Rosary to keep track of my exercise time. A Rosary typically takes about 17 minutes to recite, most people aim to move 20 to 30 minutes a day – this equals (roughly) a rosary and a few extra laps. One Priest I know prays all four mysteries on his walk helping him reach his hour a day goal. I’ve never been that ambitious; but I have been known to add a Divine Mercy Chaplet and/or an express novena of 9 consecutive Memorare prayers (recommended by St. Mother Teresa) now and then.
Better than Counting Sheep
One of my sweetest childhood memories was the sleepovers at my grandparent’s house. The only trouble was my bedtime separation anxiety. My father’s parents lived almost an hour away, so bringing me home at 9 p.m. was not an option. My wise and faithful Grandma Perry had the perfect solution. She would hand me her Rosary, and tell me to pray it until I fell asleep. “Great idea Gram! It is really boring and I will be out like a light in minutes.”
Actually, her plan was far more holy and helpful than that. She wasn’t giving me the rosary to bore me, but to empower me to be brave and fill me with the peace I needed to sleep. Grammie knew the power of prayer, especially to our Blessed Mother! To this day when I am struggling to calm my heart or mind to sleep, I will grab my Rosary to pray or sometimes just merely to hold.
There was just ONE problem: I would (and do) pray the Rosary and it would (does) definitely help me sleep; though the next morning there was sometimes this guilty feeling that I fell asleep before finishing all the prayers. Gram had an answer for that as well. It was her belief, and mine now as well, that if we fall asleep praying our dear Guardian Angels finish the remaining prayers for us.
Three unique uses, inspired by the Holy Spirit, transforming a lackluster prayer life into a blessed and fruitful one. Praying this magnificent prayer, that I once consider more tedious than math homework, has blessed me in ways once never imagined.
All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2017