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Roses for Our Mother

The rosary is perfect for Mother’s Day

By Christopher Menzhuber

Like many Americans, this Mother’s Day I will be reflecting with gratitude on the mothers in my life. I will probably buy some flowers for my wife and some for my mom. Almost certainly I will offer the Mother of God what one of my friends called “a spiritual bouquet of roses,” or simply, the rosary.

I first began praying the rosary in my early teens. My brother and I would kneel around my parents’ bed taking turns leading a decade. We were not always excited to begin, or even able to maintain focus or a prayerful disposition, but the habit was established enough to remain with me throughout high school, college, and into my professional and family life. For the last several months, it has been the foundation – and usually the sum total – of my daily prayer.

Christopher Menzhuber and his wife, Calista, have two young children.

My experience of praying the rosary has evolved over time, but a few things have remained constant. First, I’m not one to whom a lot of supernatural events happen. While I believe the stories people tell me about their guardian angel’s intervention or the feelings of peace they experience on behalf of deceased relatives, I don't have any comparable stories of my own. But the occurrences in my life that come close – the kinds of things that might have perfectly explainable causes but still push the boundaries of the implausible – seem to happen in connection with Mary and the Rosary. For example, I might suddenly be able to relate to a person with whom I was in conflict, or a task becomes easier because someone comes along to help, or something I was dreading simply resolves itself.

Studying the natural sciences helped form the habit of looking for natural causes for these improbable effects in my life, but the rosary has continually opened up a space for the mystical influence of Mary.

Second, I have noticed that when I pray the rosary, objectively speaking, my life seems to get harder. Health troubles and financial struggles do not just vanish; they actually seem to increase. After a break from saying the rosary for several months, I picked it up again last January. For the next few weeks my kids and I were all sick with the flu. After a long run without any problems, suddenly the car needed one repair after another. Challenging people at work came forward with difficult demands. Even occasions of sin seemed to unexpectedly present themselves. These things have perfectly good explanations, so perhaps I’m just noticing them because I unfairly expected difficulties to stop happening to me when I pray the rosary. Or maybe if I had not been praying the rosary something far worse would have befallen me. Or maybe it’s the devil trying to bully me for being a “mama’s boy.” I don’t know, and it doesn’t really matter, because it leads to my third observation:

If I’m praying the rosary daily, I find the way I experience both the good and the bad – subjectively – is with much more strength, gratitude, patience, and self- control. The net effect is that although I might objectively be experiencing more trial, my subjective experience is easier. It helps me to understand what Jesus was saying when he said “My yolk is easy and my burden is light.”

During the times when I’ve stopped praying the rosary regularly I inevitably start to view it with forgetfulness, if not distaste. Apart from the influence of Our Lady, it becomes easy to forget how good and easy it is to live in close relationship with her, and before long those moments lived in “childlike” devotion to Mary suddenly seem “childish.”

St. John Paul II said the rosary is “our daily meeting which neither I nor Blessed Virgin Mary neglect.” A mother’s love – Mary’s in particular – is so important because it loves us as we are, releasing for a moment all the pressure associated with the drama of becoming who we are called to be. If a father’s love calls one to take up arms, a mother’s love invites one to surrender. As we continue to move forward in our families, in the Church and in the world, this Mother’s Day is a fitting time to pause and surrender to the love of our Mother Mary. And perhaps even send her some flowers, too.

Christopher Menzhuber and his wife, Calista, have two children, ages 4 and 3. He is the director of Faith Formation at Holy Spirit Catholic Church in St. Paul, Minnesota, and a contributor to the website Catholic Pulse.