One of my favorite memories is sitting on the beach with my husband and my 8-week-old son, praying the Rosary together. Joseph, even while so tiny, cooed along with the words, sensing the rhythm of the prayers as we repeated them.
Fast forward almost three years to another favorite memory involving the family Rosary — this time on a live broadcast for OSV’s Simply Catholic Facebook page. The pandemic was new, people were scared and at home, and so we did the only thing we knew to do: pray, and invite others to join us.
I can’t say that this time was quite as peaceful. Joseph, now almost 3, was joined by his 10-month-old sister and partner-in-crime. We made it maybe a decade all together before the 3-year-old ended up behind the couch and the baby was making it clear she wanted to be “anywhere but here.” It might not have been Pinterest-perfect, but we persevered and made it through.
Despite the kids’ occasional (regular?) antics, praying the Rosary frequently as a family has helped them to know the prayers (Joseph surprised us the other day by reciting the Hail, Holy Queen along with us), and also understand it to be a regular, important part of life. In our family, we pray the Rosary. It’s just what is done. Father Patrick Peyton, who founded Holy Cross Family Ministries and was also known as the “Rosary priest,” became famous for the saying, “The family that prays together, stays together.” I hope that’s true, because we’re banking on it.
What makes the Rosary so ideal for families, you might wonder. Clocking in at around 20 minutes, it’s not exactly brief, and it takes commitment and effort to keep everyone together. But I would argue that the Rosary, because of its simple, repetitive prayers, is captivating for children. Even if they’re too young to participate, they can listen and follow. Eventually they will be able to recite the prayers, and even lead a decade.
The tactile nature of the Rosary is also a huge benefit. Our kids love to hold their own rosaries as we pray. The “Chews Life” teething Rosary has been a favorite for both kids, and now Joseph enjoys holding, and occasionally swinging, more delicate plastic ones. He likes to look at the crucifix and asks constantly what bead we are on. It might be somewhat disruptive, but he is engaged, so we count it as a win.
Finally, because the Rosary is centered around stories, kids immediately can be drawn in — especially when they realize parts of the story are events they are familiar with: Christmas, Easter, baptism, the Eucharist. Every member of the family, no matter how small, can understand to some extent the events and relationships illustrated by the four sets of mysteries. The stories reflected upon while praying the Rosary can teach all members of the family about the life of Jesus, thereby bringing each person into closer relationship with him.
The Rosary, therefore, is an ideal prayer for children and families. But there is one final piece that is critical if kids are to solidify the importance of the prayer in their minds: witnessing their parents praying it and taking it seriously. Like everything else, if mom and dad do it, kids will take note. Prayer is no exception, especially when it comes to a prayer as significant as the Rosary. We’re not perfect, but we’re trying, and the kids accept it as part of the routine.
October is traditionally the month that the Church dedicates to the Rosary. As such, there is never a better time than now to recommit to a daily Rosary. If you need somewhere to start, check out osvcatholicbookstore.com.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Gretchen R. Crowe is editorial director for periodicals at OSV. Follow her on Twitter @GretchenOSV.