Welcome to the wonderful season of Advent! My wife and I were so happy about the start of this blessed season that we tore into our closet, took out all our Christmas supplies, and got busy decorating. I hope that everyone feels energized and excited about the best four weeks of the year.
This year Advent feels like it is one week longer. In the past week I’ve gone to a 50th wedding anniversary, a wedding, and had a great time with my wife’s family for Thanksgiving. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to friends and family at the various events. At the anniversary, my cousin and I talked about prayer and the rosary. We touched on many ideas and I can’t go into detail on all of them in this post (but I will probably bring them up in the future). However, there was one rosary prayer of her’s that I found particularly interesting that seemed relevant to Advent and preparing our souls for the Lord.
The prayer is simple. On each bead of the rosary you remember someone who needs prayers, something you are thankful for, something you are sorry for, or any other situation that you feel needs remembering. You don’t need to say a long prayer on each bead. Just saying someone’s name will suffice. So that is sixty thoughts total (counting the small beads at the start and the crucifix). The point is to just think about people and situations so that they go to the front of your mind, heart, and hopefully your actions. I think this helps prevent us from making our prayers too general. When we say someone’s name, we attach a face and a real soul to our prayers. It gives our prayers, sacrifices, and offerings a real, human dimension that we sometimes miss when we just pray generally.
What do you think is more effective? Saying, “Lord please help those in need” or, “Lord, please look over my aunt during her surgery?” Now, God knows everyone’s needs whether we voice them our not. But we don’t need to be specific for God’s sake, but for ours. Suppose you really do have a family member going in for surgery. Perhaps actually thinking and voicing his/her name will remind you to give that person a phone call or visit in the hospital. Or maybe you can fast specifically for that person. In other words, by thinking of specific people you focus your prayers and spiritual energy towards their specific needs.
Sounds easy? That’s what I thought until I gave it a try. Sure, the first twenty or thirty beads are simple enough since I can rattle off friends and family members. However, I found it quite challenging to think of sixty people and circumstances that are in need of prayer. That is a little disappointing considering the millions of things to be thankful for, people to pray for, and sins to feel genuine remorse for. So that will be my challenge for this Advent — to say my sixty small prayers after praying the rosary so that I may remember the needs of those for whom I haven’t prayed enough. In doing so, in making room for others in my prayers, I will also be making room for Jesus when Christmas arrives.
Give this a try and let me know what you think. Have a great Advent!