As I begin to look back on 2012, I’ve noticed two important habits that I’ve added to my life: praying the Rosary every day and daily Mass.
In college I went to daily Mass more frequently, partially because the wonderful monks of Belmont Abbey moved Mass to 5pm so students could attend, but partially because there were some pretty fine looking gentlemen that attended daily Mass. My motives for going to Mass as often as I did were not necessarily the best, however still God used them to teach me and soften my heart. If those cute Catholic guys got me to Mass, you can bet that God used it (and He did, but that’s another story).
After college I pretty much stopped going to daily Mass. Every now and then I would go before a staff meeting, but it was pretty rare. For a little while I started going twice a week or so, but that faded after a couple of months.
Then came along another young man. He was tall and cute and played guitar and I was quite smitten. I found out that he went to daily Mass every single day. At 6:30AM. Are you serious? He mostly worked nights at the time and I was taken aback by this young guy going to Mass as often as he did, as early as he did. I thought to myself, “I surely must be holier than he is, so I must get my butt to Mass more often! Perhaps that will impress him!” Again, not the greatest motivations. God used it still. Eventually we began dating and started going to daily Mass together (hooray!). Then, we got lazy. We stopped going to daily Mass together and we stopped going to daily Mass at all. That’s pretty much where I was at in May.
Nearly every single time I went to confession in college (weekly), my penance was to pray a Rosary (thank you, Father Kieran). Since I always went to confession on Tuesdays, I learned the Sorrowful Mysteries inside out. I’d confess my sins and Father would always ask, “Have you prayed your Rosary yet today?” “No, Father, not yet…” “Good. That’s your penance. Go pray it.” I’m fairly sure that Father Kieran prays at least 10 rosaries a day. If he’s not talking or eating then he’s praying the Rosary. He always tried to get me to pray the Rosary every day, but unless it was Tuesday and I’d just been given my normal penance, then I wasn’t praying the Rosary.
After college I don’t think I ever prayed the Rosary unless it was penance or I thought I was going to die. Then, along came that same young man and I found out that in addition to his daily Mass attendance, he prayed the Rosary every day. When he asked me to pray about a relationship with him, he confessed to me that he had been praying the Rosary for me every day since his last confession and would continue to do so. Call me floored! When we began dating we started praying the Rosary together every day, even if we were across town we would pray it at the same time. It was wonderful, but in time, that habit faded too. We eventually got back to praying it once a week together, but that was it. And unless we were praying it together, I wasn’t praying the Rosary at all. That’s where I was in May.
The Sudden Change
In May the relationship ended. I was at a loss, so I committed myself to attending daily Mass at least twice a week. Then it became three times a week, and then four. Before I knew it, I was attending Mass every day but Saturday (a girl’s gotta sleep in sometime!). This is a habit I’ve kept up since May. I think that I’ve been going to Mass five days a week (plus Sundays, so six days a week) since sometime late July or early August. It has been a source of great strength and comfort for me.
In August I went to a party, and the events of that night are as fresh in my mind as though they happened yesterday. It was August 4th – that date I can remember. At the end of the night I found that my heart was torn, full of more emotions than I knew what to do with. I found my way to an adoration chapel at 11:30 at night and cried my eyes out, when slowly I felt a gentle nudge to pray the Rosary and pray it for a very specific person. I committed myself to pray for this person for three weeks, until August 25th. Then, I figured, I would be done with this Rosary business once again.
I was wrong. Mary grabbed hold of my heart and she hasn’t let go. I’ve been praying the Rosary every day since August 4th. I offer it up for different intentions and different people, but Mary hasn’t let go. She calms me and brings my petitions to her Son. The Rosary has been a great source of peace and reflection for me.
And that really is the trick, isn’t it? I’m not going to daily Mass for some cute guy now, nor am I going to “one-up” someone else. I’m not praying the Rosary to impress anybody, I’m praying it because it calms me down, focuses me and keeps me centered. I’m doing these things for me because that is where God has been calling me all along. He planted these seeds long ago and they are finally taking root and growing. And the growth is beautiful.