October is the month of the Rosary, and while this prayer of the Church is beautiful, it can also be daunting for families.
A Quick History of the Rosary
The Rosary, as we know it today, came together slowly throughout the life of the Church. While most of us are used to the Rosary as a cornerstone of faith, something that we can’t imagine the Church without, it’s important to note that its history is a dynamic one.
Monks have prayed using beads for centuries, though the prayers they prayed on them changed over time. Legend says that Mary appeared to St. Dominic in the 13th century and handed him the Rosary.
The central prayer of the Rosary, the Hail Mary, also came together slowly in the life of the Church. While most of its language comes directly from the Gospel, it wasn’t all put together until the Middle Ages. The version we pray today was officially approved for use by the Church in 1568. An earlier version of the Hail Mary was promoted by St. Gregory the Great in the late 6th century.
Typically, during a Rosary, the faithful meditate on a mystery, a moment in the life of Mary or Christ. Even those have changed over time with Pope John Paul II adding the Luminous Mysteries to the list in 2002.
How to Make It Work for Your Family
Don’t be daunted by the Rosary, use these three simple tips to make it work for you.
Learn the Prayers First
To successfully pray a Rosary, your children need to know the prayers. I recommend starting tiny—learning one of the prayers at a time until your family has all of the pieces you need to pray the rosary.
Tips for practicing:
- Use visual cues: Print out the prayers for the kids who can read and hang them on the fridge or bathroom mirrors where they will be regularly seen.
- Add them to your routine: Say the prayer you’re working on when you get in the car or add it to your family’s grace. Making it part of the routine will increase the likelihood that it will stick in your kids’ brains more quickly.
Even after your family has learned all of the prayers, I wouldn’t recommend jumping into praying a full Rosary right away. By starting small, one decade at a time, you’ll lessen the risk of overwhelming your kids and making them dislike prayer time. Easing in sometimes works best.
Make the Rosary Meaningful
Sometimes the Rosary, with its repetition of rote prayers, can seem boring to children. You can increase their engagement by making the practice meaningful. One way to do this is by diving into the meditations of the Rosary and praying with the mysteries. Another way is to allow your children to choose who they are praying for. Let them pick a new person per decade or even per prayer, and they’ll be more likely to pay attention.
I hope these simple tips for making the Rosary more accessible work for you. Happy October!
Colleen Pressprich is a homeschooling mom of five and the author of Marian Consecration for Families with Young Children, The Women Doctors of the Church, and The Jesse Tree For Families. You can learn more about her, order her books, and read more of her writing at elevatortoheaven.com.