Hello there my Rosary-loving friends! There is a lot being said today about meditation as a great means of self-improvement. In this post, we will look at the question: is praying the Rosary a form of meditation?
What the Rosary is Designed to Do to the Mind
The short answer is, yes, the daily recitation of the most holy Rosary is a form of Christian and Catholic meditation.
The reason for this is because the constant repetition of the Hail Mary prayer within the Rosary is designed, at least in part, to calm the mind and heart before God.
The mind then enters, at least partially, a meditative state and by the grace of God, seeks to contemplate Jesus Christ.
Such is the ideal, anyhow.
Contemplative prayer is the very highest form of prayer. It involves silently gazing upon God in Christ, in the mystery of who/what God is. This is the ultimate goal of reciting the Rosary.
Or, simply, it is resting in God through Christ.
To Christ through Mary
This is the end purpose of the Rosary devotion: to gaze upon Christ through the eyes of Mary. To do what Mary did: ‘Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart.’
No-one ever contemplated Divinity like Mary. As the greatest Christian who has, or ever will, live Mary is the supreme example of Christian prayer and meditation. As she often meditated on divine truth, Mary silently beheld the glory of God in her soul.
Of course, Mary had a great advantage over all of us because she actually conceived and nurtured the Divine Being in her body, in her womb: Jesus Christ. So this was an amazing impetus to spend the rest of her life in close meditation and contemplation on the divine being, since he is her Offspring and flesh of her own flesh.
In the most holy Rosary, we are called by Mary to enter something of this experience of her contemplation of God and of her divine Son, Jesus. Through the Rosary Mary helps us. The constant repetition of the Hail Mary, particularly the holy name of Jesus, helps us to focus on Christ.
The Jesus Prayer
In this, the Rosary has been compared to the great Eastern Orthodox ‘Jesus Prayer’. This is an extremely popular and ancient practice, particularly by Orthodox monks and nuns, of reciting the following words hundreds or even thousands of times a day:
‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of [the living] God, have mercy on me [a sinner].’
This prayer comes in a variety of forms, but the essence of it is always the same: calling upon Jesus to have mercy on us.
In the Jesus Prayer, the constant repetition of the holy name of Jesus serves as a sort of sacrament that leads the soul to union with God. The person praying moves beyond mere vocal recitation of the prayer to mental repetition, until the heart and mind itself is praying the prayer by itself. Even during sleep!
The Rosary is similar to the Jesus prayer, and both are intended for the same end: to bring an individual to union with God through contemplation on the mystery of divinity.
The Rosary Mysteries
Let us also remember that the Rosary is a series of meditations. The Rosary traditionally contains 15 mysteries on the life of Christ and of his blessed Mother Mary: the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Crucifixion, and so on.
These mysteries are meditations: we are called to meditate on each mystery for every 10 Hail Marys we pray.
Meditation on each mystery can be done in a variety of ways: using images/pictures, using words, imagining a scene in one’s head, or using Scripture.
But the mystery must be meditated on in some way, or else the Rosary is not being prayed.
The fact that meditation on an aspect of Jesus’ life is required indicates that the Rosary is essential a meditative prayer: a meditation.
Benefits of the Rosary
Catholics sometimes report that praying the Rosary daily improves their mental health. Check out this study on this.
You can also watch this video for evidence of this. Various people on YouTube in the comments on this video, and other videos on the Rosary, testify that praying the Rosary helps them with their mental health and/or other problems they’ve been struggling with, such as addiction to pornography.
I for one can testify that praying the Rosary daily has had an immensely positive impact on my life and on my mental health and well-being. In many ways, it is the most important thing I do everyday.
At present I pray 3 Rosaries a day, but for over a year I did 4 Rosaries a day. It seems that my outlook on life and my overall mental health was better when I prayed 4 rosaries a day. Hopefully Mary will lead me back to this practice sometime.
So yes, the Rosary seems very much to be a form of meditation. Whereas other forms of meditation may well be questionable from a Catholic perspective, the Rosary is a meditation that is centuries old and has the strongest possible roots in Christianity: with deep devotion to Jesus and Mary and the Christian Gospel.