Part of the Mary Moment Monday series

I have a love-hate relationship with the rosary. In fact, I consider myself Rosary Challenged.

Maybe this falls under guilty confessions, because I have a tremendous love and devotion for Mary. I feel an obligation to get over the hurdles I find in the rosary and keep struggling through it.

I used to think that being Rosary Challenged was a legitimate reason for not praying the rosary. “It’s just not the devotion for me,” I’d think, after another unsuccessful run at trying to pray it regularly. “I’ll try [insert any other devotion] instead.”

Inevitably, after weeks or months or, in one case, years, I would find myself feeling a loud, unmistakable call to pray the rosary.

“But…,” I’d stammer. “I’m NO GOOD at this!”

The call would get pretty annoying, even to the point of people giving me beautiful rosaries as gifts.

“There’s just NO TIME for a rosary!” I’d protest.

Wouldn’t you know, I’d happen to have a reason to rise at a crazy-early time or be up in the wee hours of the silent night? Maybe I’d find myself with a long drive and no radio.

My response most recently has been rather adolescent, I’ll admit.


Oh, don’t get me wrong. The rosary is, and remains, a powerful part of my prayer life. The reassuring path through Jesus’ life and ministry and the insights it holds for my life and my vocation are never-ending.

What follows are rosary tips from one of the Rosary Challenged.


Sometimes, you’ll have days where praying the rosary seems trumped by other cares and concerns. Other times, I have days where I just…don’t…cooperate.

I have found, though, that viewing the rosary as Not Optional helps me. It has to be something as non-negotiable as dinner or clean underwear or brushing my teeth for me to take it seriously. It’s a promise I make to myself. And to God.

Hard though it is, I never cease to be blessed by it.

One at a time.

This “one decade at a time” mentality is, in fact, how I got hooked on the rosary. Don’t look at it as 59 prayers. See it as a group of ten Hail Marys. That’s it. Start with the first decade in the set of mysteries you’re praying and get that done. Move to the next mystery. And so forth.

Maybe you’ll pray a decade as you make coffee and breakfast and another in the shower. Or maybe it will be part of your commute to work. Use those times when you would otherwise be twiddling your thumbs and use your fingers to keep track of Hail Marys.

There are times in my life when I have to accept less than ten Hail Marys. Though it may mark me as both a super slacker and heretical, I think it’s better to pray a quality rosary than to get it “done.” One decade, prayed from your heart, means more for you and to God than the whole rosary, prayed as a race. (That said, I don’t know that I’ve ever REALLY prayed a quality rosary.

Change it up.

Feel yourself getting stale? There are audio rosaries (many of them available as free downloads), different kinds of rosaries (the Scriptural Rosary, the Franciscan Crown, for example), sung rosaries, and many books of meditations. Try something different when you feel yourself losing focus or feeling tempted to give it up.

Dedicate your efforts to something special.

Is there someone in your life who needs special prayer? Can you think of someone who could use a miracle? Do you have an intention that really needs some attention? Use the rosary and dedicate your prayer efforts to that intention. Maybe each decade gets dedicated to an intention. I know people who use each bead of their rosary for a person in their life.

There’s no limit to what you can do. I find that giving my rosary a purpose gives me different motivation for praying, motivation that I need to use when rosary praying is especially hard.

Ask your guardian angel to help.

If, as my mother-in-law and others in her generation insist, your guardian angel really does finish your rosary if you don’t or can’t, doesn’t that indicate a vested interest in helping you to pray it in the first place? When I do ask my guardian angel to help me, I’m never disappointed (provided I cooperate with the help he gives me, mind you).

Pray with others.

Whether in person or virtually, this can really help. Come Pray the Rosary ( allows you to pray from the comfort of your home with people all over the world. You can also call a friend, or commit to praying at a certain time every day, knowing that the other person is also praying.

Involving others in your rosary praying can give you the inclination you might not otherwise have. It can also bless you far beyond what you expect.

Don’t give up.

If today you fail, try again tomorrow, and know there’s grace in the persevering.

This “Finding Faith in Everyday Life” column originally appeared in The Catholic Times.

image source: Trendy Traditions