In the last couple of weeks, hubby and I have finally started something new and wonderful: our family rosary.
We used to both try to squeeze in separate rosaries during our commutes to work, sometimes successfully and sometimes…not so successfully. Well, his was pretty much always successful. It’s mine that seemed kind of hit or miss. Sometimes I’d just be so tired that I’d wind up praying so slowly that I’d barely get in a decade during a half hour commute. Ridiculous, I know. I’d lose track of what Hail Mary I was on and pray the same one over and over and over. I’d tried doing other times of day too, but what I discovered is that I’m just the sort of person who needs to move in order to focus my mind enough to pray a rosary. I make it through Mass with minimal twitching, but apparently for me, stillness of heart does not completely equal stillness of body.
In all honesty, it got to the point where I was beyond frustrated and beginning to feel resentful of the time it was taking me to get it done. Which is NOT how I want my prayer life to feel. During a really great heart-to-heart one night while we were driving home, I confessed my frustrations to him and he said he’d been feeling a lot of the same pressure to “hurry up and pray” during his commute.
One of our guardian angels must have whispered in my ear, because out of nowhere, I got the sudden urge to suggest that we try to do our rosary together before bed. We were both very hesitant. In fact, almost as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I was cringing with regret.
You have to understand: we have very different bedtime needs. My husband gets tired all of a sudden and then wants to go to bed RIGHT. NOW. I, however, need a very deliberate wind down. Then he tends to get maddening second winds while I’m doing my wind down and then just as soon as I’ve gotten myself pulled into the second wind because I feel guilty watching him clean all by himself, BAM. He’s done. Time to crash. And I’m left more wound up than a jack-in-the-box.
Clearly planned bedtime anything did not sound like a good idea to either of us. But we decided to try it. The worst that could happen was that it would be an epic blundering fail and we’d wind up miserable and exhausted for a couple of nights before we gave it up, right?
The very first night we were set to try it out we were already far, far behind (I blame getting out of work late and sheer laziness.) So I asked if he wouldn’t mind if we started our rosary while we did the dishes, thinking we were cheating ourselves into a little extra sleep time afterwards. He agreed, and as we began something miraculous happened: it all fell into place.
As we prayed, we did all of the dishes. And tidied the kitchen. And the living room. And made sandwiches for the next day’s lunch. And folded and put away the laundry. And set out our clothes for the next day and got changed into to pajamas. And I mindlessly filed away the paperwork for our paid bills.
All of those (stupid) mind-numbing household chores that were stressing us out and there was never time to do got done. But we didn’t feel like we’d done them–we felt like we’d prayed a rosary. Because we had. Our minds and hearts had been focused on the mysteries of Our Lady’s rosary, but our bodies had just gone along doing other parts of our vocation by taking care of our house. We couldn’t believe how peaceful and refreshed we felt, both from the graces of praying our daily rosary together and from the side perk of having finally got caught up.
Needless to say, praying the rosary this way together has changed. our. life. After a few weeks of our new prayer routine, our house is actually under control, our laundry stays (mostly) caught up, our dishes are done and the sink is almost always empty when we go to bed (gasp!), and –drumroll please– I have a really clear idea of when we’ll be done with our tidying and therefore of when it’ll be time to sleep. So I can wind down appropriately and settle my mind to sleep. And he has a clear idea of when it’ll be time to stop all cleaning.
After seeing how well this was working, we made the deal that all cleaning would stop when our rosary was finished, regardless of what was left, and that it would be bedtime once we were done too. I wasn’t watching him run around the house anymore and he wasn’t watching me desperately trying to calm myself down and mentally prepare for bedtime (clearly I’m a night person and have to fight the adrenaline rush that kicks in around 10:30 pm. )
Our Lady and her beautiful rosary saved our peace of mind, our bedtime routine, and our ability to do housework (I won’t get all dramatic and tell you it saved our marriage–this was definitely a major point of tension, but our marriage was not in trouble by any means.) It was truly amazing what she was able to do for us once we just decided to make a shared commitment to our prayer life. We’re no longer stressed throughout our day, wondering whether we’ll get our individual rosaries finished, or get anything else done. I know we’ll pray a focused rosary and that we’ll fulfill our vocation with the work of our hands as we do.
We are so blessed to have found this way of making our family rosary work for us. I’d love to hear how other families do things differently, especially ones that have been blessed with children. If we are given children, I’m sure we’ll have to re-evaluate at some point whether our “active rosary” communicates the right message to them or not, but for now, this is part of our path to Heaven.