What the Karate Kid Taught Me About The Rosary
If you’re like me you’ve struggled at times to pray the Rosary. My love for Mary has been steadily growing since my college reversion, but I just haven’t been able to get on board with the Rosary. Despite ardent attempts to become a devoted to it, it puts me to sleep or, at best, causes my mind to wander. As life has grown busier, praying the rosary has not gotten easier. On most days I’m up before 6 AM and I often don’t get home until 9 PM. On my commute I’m usually scurrying to return phone calls and just trying to keep my head above water. But something about the Rosary keeps drawing me in, a tiny tug that I just can’t seem to ignore. So I decided to embark on a little journey to discover what it is that makes it so special.
The first place I turned was to the Saints. Countless Popes, Bishops, and Blesseds made the Rosary a priority for nearly a millennium. I’d say all had lives far busier than mine. They made some pretty sweeping statements endorsing its value. For example, Pope Pius IX said, "Among all the devotions approved by the Church none has been so favored by so many miracles as the devotion of the Most Holy Rosary." St. Francis de Sales said "the greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” (EWTN- The Holy Rosary)
The Rosary must be valuable if all these holy folks seem to think so, but why does it seem to be boring and fruitless?
As I continued my journey to discover the value of the Rosary I turned to some friends who have struggled with it, too. We all wondered why we had an aversion to a proven and loved weapon of the Church and decided to turn to our favorite Rosary devotee, Blessed John Paul II. We began reading his Apostolic Letter, On the Most Holy Rosary. In it, he seems to gush about the Rosary’s power and value, making statements like, “against the background of the words Ave Maria the principal events of the life of Jesus Christ pass before the eyes of the soul.” Through the guidance of Bl. JPII my friends and I began to understand that the beauty of the Rosary is found in its focus on Christ. This new understanding cleared a few things up for me, but I still couldn’t understand why it’s considered the best way to encounter Christ? What about reading sacred scripture or mental prayer? We continued to ponder as we read Bl. JPII’s letter, and the question still remained, why couldn’t we experience the joy and connection with Christ that other forms of prayer seem to bring?
The Karate Kid
As time went on I became more open to the notion that the Rosary is at least a wonderful idea. After all, it’s a place to ponder, with Mary, the key elements of Christ’s life. Obviously pondering Christ’s life is fruitful so I started praying it more frequently despite my wandering and sleepy mind. But it wasn’t until I slumped down on my couch one Saturday night and watched the old school version of the Karate Kid that I saw the true value of Rosary.
You probably know the story. A kid from Jersey moves to California, falls for a cute girl, is bullied by her ex-boyfriend and his posse, and is trained by the fix-it man, Mr. Miyagi, to defend himself using karate. To teach him, Mr. Miyagi assigns Daniel seemingly pointless monotonous tasks, painting the fence, sanding the bridge, and most famously waxing the car. But as Daniel applies himself and is strengthened by duty, he inadvertently learns the skills needed for karate. So, too, it is with the Rosary. This is the answer to my question. I didn’t see how the Rosary connected with my spiritual life because the connection was subtle at first glance. The prayers are simple and repetitive, yet through them we are strengthened for battle. This is because during each decade of Hail Marys you are pondering a significant event in the life of Jesus Christ, God-made-man. This is why Pope Leo XIII called it an effective spiritual weapon against the evils afflicting society. Those evils of selfishness, utilitarianism, and sin are combated by the contemplation of Jesus’ life.
We live in a world that is cluttered with sights and sounds that prevent us from truly encountering our Lord. My jam-packed schedule makes it difficult to sit quietly and do something that may bear no immediate fruit. But that’s exactly why I must pray the Rosary and why Bl. JPII and so many before him have recommended a devotion to it. Through the hands of the Blessed Mother we have the chance to ponder the life of Christ and, although it may not be natural to us, the Rosary is exactly what we need to be formed into Saints.
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May 1, 2015
What the Karate Kid Taught Me About The Rosary
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