The woods

Hello Rosary lovers. In this post I would like to describe what my personal experience has been walking and praying the Rosary. Perhaps you might relate and/or find it useful.

My natural disposition

I am a very energetic person by nature. I never sat still when I was a child, and used to make things hard for my mum. I was a VERY active child.

Even to this day, I am active. It is unnatural for me to sit still, and I often prefer to pace around when thinking about something or when praying.

I generally struggle a lot to pray when I am static, unless I am lying in bed. If I am sitting on a sofa, or a chair, I struggle to pray, because the stillness of my body is unnatural for me.

As for standing still whilst praying, I find this also hard. In fact, I never do it, because I constantly feel like I want to be moving.

As for my mind, since my teens I have had trouble with a very over-active brain. Constantly I have been tormented by thoughts I don’t want, by things I struggle to stop thinking about, and just generally finding constant peace and stillness in my mind.

Part of my life’s pursuit has been to try to find some way to cope with these struggles in my mind, or better, to overcome it all. Becoming a Christian in 2008 helped a great deal.

I am who I am. A good saint to pray to if you struggle with similar issues is St Alphonsus Ligouri. He struggled a lot with scrupulosity but overcame it by God’s grace.

Anyway, I say all that to say this. One of my favourite ways to find peace in my mind is to pray the Rosary whilst going for a walk.

I can think of few things in this world that are as utterly beautiful and peaceful for my soul and mind as going for a walking in the woods or by the sea and listening to the recitation of the Rosary. Or praying it myself with my own lips.

The peace this practice gives to my soul and mind I cannot describe to you. I suppose it is really only known by those who try it and taste the results.

The Preciousness of Prayer

A lady in red praying in a field

Prayer is one of the most precious and beautiful of all the gifts God has given us. It is a very powerful means of grace, and is the other major means of grace given to us besides the holy Sacraments.

Prayer is necessary for salvation. We cannot reach heaven or become saints if we do not pray.

One of the main results of prayer is to reduce anxiety and to fill the soul with a sense of divine peace. So many of us can testify to this that it is basically proverbial.

Paul talks about this in Philippians 4:6-7, when he tells us not to be worried about anything but in thanksgiving and prayer to make our requests known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, will guard our minds and hearts in Christ.

The Glory of the Rosary

Praying the Rosary is one of the greatest ways to pray and thus to find peace. It is a very powerful way for us to bring our anxieties to God and to worship/thank him by praying the Our Father, glorifying his greatest Daughter by grace (Mary) and meditating on the Holy Gospel of his Divine Son, Jesus.

Plus, in asking Mary so many times to pray for us, we can and should be assured that we can absolutely rely on the prayers of God’s very own Mother to support us and help us in anyway she thinks is best. She knows and loves us FAR more than we know and love ourselves.

The Glory of the Natural World and Walking

But alongside prayer, going for a walk is also an extremely good way to relax and find a sense of peace.

I especially love going to the woods, because I feel a strong connection with tall trees, shade, and the quietness and solitude. I can see why people of a bygone era would deify elements like trees and rivers because there is something almost magical about it all.

I sense the presence of God strongly when I walk in the woods. I sense him in the surroundings, in the sounds, in the smells, in the colours and just in the entire atmosphere. I would probably rather pray in the woods that anywhere else.

But I am always happy to pray whilst walking anywhere. Because I’m such an active person, when I walk I feel in a sense like I am ‘getting somewhere’.

I don’t really know why, but it is much easier for me to pray and walk at the same time. Sometimes I find praying indoors too dull, boring or a bit stifling.

Know Yourself

It’s helpful to try different things in prayer and it’s important to know what works for you and what doesn’t. God doesn’t call us to pray in ways that don’t work for us, and what works for many might well not work so well for you.

This is why the Catholic Church contains so many various forms of devotion, and so many different avenues for finding God in our own lives.

God has called YOU to be the person that HE has planned carefully from all eternity.

God has called each of us to pray in the way that works best for each of us. In fact, methods of prayer with worked for me in the past surprisingly no longer work for me.

‘Know thyself’ is still immensely relevant for religious people. If we don’t know who God has made us to be, how can we be authentic to who we really are and what really works for us in our spiritual lives?

Let us pray for wisdom about all of this. The person God wants you and I to be is not the person God wants someone else to be. And it is our job to seek God for the wisdom to be our own authentic self in Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit.

Thomas Merton, a possible candidate for sainthood someday, used to say that becoming a saint has a lot to do with being true to ourselves, to authentically BE who we really are.

I believe that if you do this, you will find it much easier to become a saint and to get to heaven.

Absolutely we should look at the lives of the saints and learn from them and try to imitate their virtues. But it is also vital that we be the infinitely unique individual God has called each of us to be.

I am not a St Francis, or a St Paul. I am Matthew. And if I begin here, I am on the right track.

I hope this post has been useful to read, and as always if you have any questions, let me know 🙂

God bless, through Mary, Queen of the most holy Rosary.

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