It’s October, the month of the Rosary, and Catholics everywhere are honoring the incredible power of the sacred beads. Even the secular media is getting into the game lately, acknowledging the rosary as a weapon. That’s nothing new to those of us devoted to Our Lady’s Rosary, who pray it faithfully, know its graces, and have lived its power. As for me, I’m spending October contemplating the role of the rosary in my life, starting at the very beginning.
When I was a little girl, about eight or nine years old, my maternal grandmother taught me to pray the rosary. She has long since passed into eternity, where I hope and pray she smiles down on all of us.
When Grandmother taught me the rosary, and modeled fidelity to it, she gave me the eternal gift of her love and Mary’s. That gift unites us, even though we have been separated by her death for over 30 years.
I was the first of her grandchildren, named for her. I always felt a special closeness to her, but in truth, she loved each of us with all of her love. My family lived a few hours away during my childhood, but we visited frequently.
My grandmother was sweet, gentle, and affectionate, with such a mild and meek nature. To be in her presence was to feel an immense love that defied words.
The Beauty of the Beads
I still remember learning from her in the pre-bedtime darkness, as she gave me her beads to finger. Ah! The beads! They glimmered with an iridescent, faceted, aurora borealis glow. They were a shimmer of color and light, in the very palest green you could imagine. Or perhaps they were clear crystal, but so captured the light that they became the light, glowing golden-green within it.
The findings were silver; the caps, gorgeous and delicate filigree; the Crucifix, baroque and ornate. My Uncle Tony made the rosary for Grandmother when he was in the seminary, and it was precious to her.
Grandmother prayed the rosary every night, and frequently carried the beautiful beads. They captivated me with their sinuous sparkle. I loved to touch them, jingle them, and admire them.
Even the sound they made, clinking gently as she prayed, was beautiful to me. When we prayed the rosary together, I felt blanketed in such peace and security, against the background of the ringing of the beads, the whispered prayers.
Sharing Mary's Prayer
One night, when I asked if she could teach me her prayer, she told me the rosary was Mary’s prayer. To pray it, she explained, was to love and honor her, and to ask her to take care of me.
Grandmother taught me the rosary patiently, with the quiet joy characteristic of her loving nature. We prayed the rosary together before bedtime, bead by bead, prayer by beautiful prayer - a woman whose life had been filled with joyful and sorrowful mysteries all her own, and a little child whose life had only just begun.
I did not understand what I was doing. I was merely imitating someone I loved deeply. But understanding wasn’t necessary. The graces Our Lady lavishes upon us are timeless, and one day, I will come to know how they unfolded as I joined my prayers to Grandmother’s. Even today, I can only scratch the surface of the incredible mystery of Our Lady and her love for us.
Precious Link to the Past
I did not have my own rosary beads back then, but Uncle Tony made me a one-decade rosary bracelet. I wore it constantly, and I treasured it. It glistened with the same iridescent loveliness as Grandmother’s, in the most magnificent, barely-colored, golden-green crystal, sparkling with beauty.
A single filigree bead crowns the decade. There is no Crucifix or centerpiece on my bracelet. Perhaps those are long gone, lost during the grand adventures of childhood. I wish I could remember, but those details have been eclipsed by time.
For many years the bracelet has been nestled in a pouch in my jewelry box, unopened - safely protected. I took it out this month, in October, the Month of the Rosary, and decided to wear it in celebration of Grandmother's gift. I held my breath as I draped it over my wrist and tried it on.
To my amazement, it still fit. I haven't worn it in almost 50 years. I fastened the clasp, fingering the lacy filigree cap on the Our Father bead. I was moved to tears of gratitude, joy, and longing, recalling the security, warmth, and love the rosary brought when I prayed it with my grandmother.
After clasping the bracelet, I closed my eyes. For just a moment, I was with her once again. I heard the beads jingling like little crystal bells. I recalled the sound of Grandmother’s voice, quiet, gentle, and sweet, as she whispered the prayers with me. Enveloped in the love of the Blessed Mother, I realized the magnitude of the precious gift Grandmother gave me, and again, I felt her love.
Do you have a rosary story to share? Can you tell us how the rosary became a part of your life, or how it has helped you in your faith? Has it brought special graces to you in a time of need? Please share with us here, in this month of Mary’s Rosary, in thanksgiving for the gift of her motherly love.