It’s actually pretty ridiculous that I pray the rosary daily. After all, when was the last time you saw a Protestant pastor’s kid meditating on a string of well-varnished beads?
Like so many others, I was absolutely convinced that praying to Our Lady would punch my one-way ticket to eternal damnation, so I avoided her (and anything to do with her) like the plague.
After 20 plus years as a Catholic, I’m more firmly convinced than ever that deep Marian devotion is an intrinsic part of our salvation process. We need her.
After all, she’s not just the Mother of God, she’s our mother, the matriarch, so to speak, of the Divine Family for which we are made! (And just in case you’re a Protestant brother or sister reading this…no, we don’t believe her to be divine. But as the Mother of God, she’s the highest and greatest of all creatures.)
She’s also the perfect example of what you and I are made to be – an exquisitely beautiful saint empowered by God’s grace. In fact, one of her many titles is “More Beautiful Than Beauty.”
Of course, as a Protestant, I didn’t think much about beauty. My church literally congregated in a gymnasium with an orange shag carpet platform and felt banners covering basketball hoops.
Functional? I guess. Beautiful? Not even close.
We didn’t understand what Catholics intuitively know. Namely, that beauty matters…a lot! After all, God is truth, beauty, and goodness. So beauty is meant to permeate our lives, particularly our prayer lives.
As you can imagine, my gym church didn’t inspire anyone to converse with God. But walk into an old cathedral with soaring ceilings and gorgeous stained glass and your soul practically leaps out of your body. Why?
Because beauty matters.
As human beings with five God-given senses, we relate to God through the physical universe. That’s why our faith is full of wonderful smells and bells, as well as beautiful beads and books.
As a reflection of God himself, true beauty silently shouts “sacred,” “holy,” “divine!”
In fact, that’s one of the reasons I stopped using cheap, plastic rosaries when praying to Our Lady. I’ve discovered that a beautiful set of finely crafted beads helps me “touch” the transcendent beauty of God far more easily than the “run of the mill” rosaries that lie in a tangled mess in a basket on the shelf under the tv.
Seriously, we often take more pride in our iPhone cover than in the quality and beauty of one of the most powerful spiritual weapons in our arsenal.
But just like reading a leather covered Bible edged in gold foil feels different than a cheap paperback version, a gorgeously crafted, hand-made rosary changes everything.
Of course, it took me a while to realize this. For many years, I would just pray with whatever beads I could find.
But then a couple of years ago, a man in my Science of Sainthood community, Jonathan Conrad (aka the Catholic Woodworker), sent me two, absolutely stunning rosaries. I’m talking ridiculously beautiful, rock-solid, and just the right size (i.e. substantial, but not big enough to be used as a rope ladder or be mistaken for the belt of a barefoot friar).
Now they’re all I use.
I’ve got one in my briefcase for travel and one on my desk. In my opinion, they perfectly reflect the beauty and transcendence that’s essential to a life of prayer, particularly the rosary.
And not only does Jonathan create gorgeous Catholic rosaries, home altars, and such, he’s got a great story and I’m very happy to give him a “shout out” and send people his way.
So if you’ve already got a gorgeous, “go-to” rosary, wonderful. If not, I’d highly encourage you to head over to CatholicWoodworker.com and grab one or two.
In fact, because of our relationship, he’ll give you a 10% discount if you enter SOS into the coupon box at checkout. (And guys…this is not a paid advertisement. I’m just telling you about a friend who makes truly beautiful rosaries as a family business.)
Regardless, I’d encourage you to make a serious effort to beautify your prayer life.
After all, if we are made for the undreamed of beauty of the Beatific Vision, doesn’t it make sense to begin striving for that kind of prayerful beauty in our communion with God now?
God bless you and may he fill you with all his truth, beauty, and goodness!
P.S. New Art of Catholic coming shortly!