Summary of Rediscover the Rosary by Matthew Kelly

Rediscover the Rosary: The Modern Power of an Ancient Prayer by Matthew Kelly, 2017.

The Rosary, like Catholicism, is an ancient treasure map.

Although many, due to blind ignorance, dismiss Catholicism and its practices, it still leads to treasure – and the treasure is immeasurable and inexhaustible.

“The Rosary is not just a prayer for gray-haired old ladies with too much time on their hands. It is a rich practice of prayer we can all benefit from. This is the dissenting opinion, the truth ignored. We probably need the Rosary more today than at any other time in history, but we are less able to embrace it than at any other time in history because of our misplaced values, our warped worldview, and our brash exaggerated confidence in our own intellect” (33).

The Rosary works!

The Rosary just works. When prayed in the way intended, the Rosary calms our minds and hearts so we can better hear God’s voice, opens up our hearts to more readily recognize Him at work in our lives, reorders our priority list.

“It just works. When I pray the Rosary, I am a better person. It makes me a better son, brother, husband, father, employer, neighbor, citizen, and a better member of the human family. It brings an incredible peace; it teaches us to slow down, calm down, let go, surrender, and listen. The Rosary teaches us how to just be, and that is not a small or insignificant lesson. In some ways it is the perfect prayer for busy people in a busy, noisy, confused world” (10-12)… “Embrace the Rosary, and Mary will teach you how to order your heart, mind, and soul with the genius of simplicity” (33).

In order to experience the efficacy of the Rosary, don’t rush! It’s not a race: “I’d rather that you prayed three decades slowly and thoughtfully than fifteen decades at warp speed” (46).

Reject the shallow, superficial, thoughtless, and unthinking. Instead, learn to ponder, find that deep place within you, think deeply, meditate.

The Rosary is a dynamic prayer. It is ever fresh, always new.

The Rosary is a dynamic prayer because it meets us where we are and is constantly at work in our lives to transform us into the best version of ourselves. By inviting us to reflect on how the prayers and mysteries relate to our lives, the ever-ancient method of the rosary is ever-new in speaking to our changing situation.

“How does the Rosary accomplish all this? It doesn’t change every time we pray it. It was the same last year as it is today, yet we can have a completely different experience of it today than we did yesterday or last week. It doesn’t change, but we do. Our questions change. Our struggles and concerns change. Our faith and doubts change. Where we are in our journey with God changes. The Rosary provides the context, the format, and the process for God to speak to us about all these things” (36).

Why Pray to Mary?

Since Mary is Jesus’ mother, she has a unique perspective on His life. Mary can teach us things about Jesus that nobody else can. In the Rosary, we ponder the life of Jesus through the eyes of his mother and ask Mary for prayers in the same way we ask others to pray for us: “Mary, we have problems down here. You know what it is like, because you have been here. Please, help us out!” Since she is in heaven, her prayers are even more powerful.

“Who are your heroes? If the mother of one of your heroes invited you to lunch, how excited would you be? What would you talk about? Would you give her a message to pass along to her son? Too often we squeeze the humanity out of our spiritual perspectives and exercises. Mary was a woman, a wife, a mother, a human—and the mother of Jesus. She laughed and cried, made dinner, changed diapers, and suffered anguish we will never know. If Mary invited you to lunch, what would you ask her?” (19)

How often should I pray the Rosary?

Underlying this question is a deep-seated mentality of minimalism:

What is the least I can do?

But the lover doesn’t ask this question. This question is offensive to the lover. We need to uproot the desire to do what we want and still fulfill God’s requirements. The better question to ask:

How do I become so enchanted with the Rosary that I yearn to pray it constantly?

Our love should be constant and our prayer life should be dynamic in expressing that love. Allow the Spirit to guide you in the types of prayer that are most fruitful.

The Rosary is not magic.

“There is no deal making with God. So many Rosaries mindlessly rattled off don’t equal a prayer answered by God” (42).

“The disposition of your heart is what matters most. Place your heart in the loving presence of Mary. Allow her to comfort you, to love you. Your mind will follow your heart. It is possible to be too much like Martha when praying the Rosary (see Luke 10:38–42). It is easy to fall into the trap of trying so hard to do it all right and then miss out on the peace that Jesus and Mary want to flood our hearts with during the Rosary” (44).

Why pray with beads?

“So praying with beads certainly wasn’t an original idea, but it serves powerfully to remind us that everything before the coming of Jesus was preparing for that moment, and that God yearns to transform everything into something holy, even something as ordinary as a small rope with some beads on it. The purpose of prayer beads is almost universally to allow the person to keep track of the number of prayers that have been said, while at the same time focusing on the deeper meaning of the prayers themselves” (22).

See distractions as opportunities to strengthen your spiritual muscle.

Distractions are inevitable and neutral. How we respond to distractions is crucial. Once you realize you’re distracted, use it as an opportunity to strengthen your spiritual muscle by choosing God over the distraction.

“Which is better for you, ten push-ups or one hundred? One hundred. Why? Every push-up strengthens your muscles. Every distraction is an opportunity to strengthen your spiritual muscles. You realize you are distracted, you return to your prayer, and in that moment what happens? You choose God over the distraction, you pull your mind and likely your heart away from the distraction, and you align your heart and mind with God. That’s a spiritual push-up” (46).

Tip: Focus on a specific word or phrase OR focus on the mystery.

Since every word, every phrase, and every mystery is so rich with meaning, focusing on one of these words, phrases, or mysteries helps to minimize distractions.

“For example, you may choose to focus on the phrase full of grace today. Tomorrow you may find yourself especially in need of forgiveness, so you may choose to focus on pray for us sinners. On another day you may focus simply on the single word with from the phrase the Lord is with you, and ponder what it means to be with the Lord. It’s amazing how deeply we can meditate just on the word with. What does it mean to be with the Lord? (43).

How to focus on the mystery.

Just allow the words to float by subconsciously. Get lost in the scene. Imagine yourself there, at Jesus’ side. Place yourself in the scene, not as a fly on the wall, but as a very specific person, so you can fully immerse yourself in the situation and explore what you would have been thinking and feeling if you were there” (44).

“Don’t try to do two things at once! Either focus on the words or focus on the mystery. Discouragement happens when you try to “pray the words and meditate on the mystery at the same time. Impossible! We must decide between the two. Your mind was created to focus on one thing at a time” (44).

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