Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing
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'The rosary marks the rhythm of human life, bringing it into harmony with the rhythm of God's own life.' (Pope John Paul II)
GREENVILLE (Catholic Online) - As a young Anglican priest, from an Evangelical background, I had had no experience in praying the rosary. In fact, I was prejudiced against devotion to Mary of any sort. However, wishing to be open and positive rather than closed and negative, I accepted the gift of a rosary from a woman in the parish who had just returned from Walsingham. The next week I went to Quarr Abbey on retreat, and discovering the rosary in my luggage decided to give it a try. I went to the bookshop and got a booklet on praying the rosary and got started. Suddenly a whole new dimension of prayer began to open up.
A month later my life started to unravel. I had been seeing an older priest for spiritual direction, and my neatly organized, self righteous world began to fall apart. I was supported by friends and received some counseling. A few months later, after I had received real healing and forgiveness, the older priest said kindly, "Our Lady's prayers for you have been so powerful haven't they?" Then the penny dropped. Things fell apart so that God could put me back together in a better way, and it all started when I began to pray the rosary.
This led me to think more and more about how God uses the rosary for our inner healing. Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Rosarium Virginis Mariae writes, "The rosary marks the rhythm of human life, bringing it into harmony with the rhythm of God's own life." When we pray the rosary our life hooks up to the perfect life of Jesus and Mary and their perfection radiates healing into the wounded areas of our own lives. For example, if we have experienced a difficult childhood, when we pray the fourth joyful mystery of Jesus being presented in the temple we offer our childhood to be taken up into his and for his perfect childhood to heal and complete what was lacking in our own.
From conception, through the time of our gestation, birth, childhood and adolescence God was with us. Praying the rosary helps us to put our life into Christ's at every step of the way. This healing really does work. Most often the healing is deep and quiet and long term. Sometimes the healing is sudden and dramatic. I knew a man who was having real problems making any kind of commitment in life. He couldn't keep a job, couldn't commit to his girlfriends, couldn't commit to a move that would have forwarded his career.... It turned out that his birth was very difficult. The labor was very long and traumatic. It was like he was not committed to his own life. By focusing on the mystery of the Nativity in praying the rosary, the bad memories of his difficult birth were healed and he was eventually able to enter into a fuller and more abundant life.
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Praying the rosary for inner healing has real effects in many ways, but most of all it brings an inner peace. In a mysterious way Christ's perfect life and the perfect love he shared with his mother, flow into the wounded places in our lives. This grace empowers us to return to the confessional with a clearer vision. It helps us to be open to the healing Christ brings through the Eucharist, and it gives us the strength to continue the daily hard work of being transformed into Christ's image.
In his encyclical, Pope John Paul says, "It becomes natural [through the Rosary] to bring all the problems, anxieties, labours and endeavors which got to make up our lives...to pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and his mother." At every step of the Rosary journey we encounter another human joy or sorrow. Through the rosary Jesus Christ takes us by the hand and leads us through every part of life, fulfilling his promises that he will never leave us and forsake us, and that we should cast all our burdens on Him, for He cares for us.
Fr. Dwight Longenecker's latest book is "Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing". It is available through Catholic bookstores, and at www.dwightlongenecker.com. Fr. Longenecker is Chaplain to St Joseph's Catholic School in Greenville, South Carolina. You can check out his many articles and books on his website, and from there you can also visit his popular blog, "Standing on My Head" where he comments daily and posts his weekly homilies as podcasts.
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