By Father Bill Kneemiller
Recently I was inspired to ask Bishop Thomas Zinkula if he would bless a new lay prayer apostolate, or association. The bishop directed me to diocesan leaders who suggested the name, Marian Family Prayer Association, after I told them its goal was simple: to invite families to pray a decade of the rosary after supper. Then some of my rosary-praying friends introduced me to a graphic artist, Andy Schmalen in Georgia, who had designed a brochure with icons of all the mysteries of the rosary. He gave permission for its use for our family prayer association.
With our current emphasis on cultivating the domestic church, this is a perfect time for everyone to pray a decade of the rosary after supper. This idea came from couples who have been trying to pray a daily rosary and say they can pray a decade on a consistent basis.
For anyone becoming more familiar with the rosary, the emphasis should be on making this devotion something more than rote prayer. Let me share with you excerpts from a short article on the rosary that helped me to understand the experience of Bernadette of Lourdes, who embraced praying the rosary. The article is titled “The Short Life of Bernadette.”
On Feb. 11, 1858, the Blessed Mother first appeared to Bernadette at the grotto in Lourdes as she beckoned Bernadette to come close to her as “though she were my mother.” The lady from heaven then made a “beautiful Sign of the Cross.” When she disappeared, Bernadette was amazed to “find myself still in this world.” Over the next half-dozen visits, Bernadette continued to pray with the Lady who shown with a bright light, “softer than the sun.” Bernadette received the message of a call to “Repentance, Repentance, Repentance,” from Our Lady.
On March 4, 1858, 8,000 people gathered around the grotto. Bernadette said, “It seemed the Lady had got her procession already. We started the Rosary, and at the second decade the Lady came and lifted me into a world where the language is prayer, and the environment is Heaven.”
Bernadette noticed that Our Blessed Lady would often look over her head to single out individuals in the crowd. She would smile on them as though they “were old familiar friends.” June 3, 1858, was to be Our Lady’s last visit. Bernadette said, “She left Heaven in my heart, and it has been there ever since.” Bernadette added, “The Rosary became my way of prayer, indeed my life. To hold it in one’s hand brought serenity and peace.”
As Bernadette’s mission was ending, she concluded, “The Lady who shared with her Priest and myself her name in the Trinity (Immaculate Conception) before time began, would see her child, serenely through to Eternity.”
Next time you pray the rosary, ask for that grace to pray from the heart and to be lifted up into heaven. If you would like a copy of the short article, or our Marian Family Prayer Association brochure, send an email to kneemiller2@ diodav.org.