by Father Alex McCullough
About 15 years ago, my dad sent me a letter which I share with you here. It is a better summary of what prayer is for all of my parishioners than I could ever write myself. God bless you all, and know that I bring all of you in prayer to the Blessed Mother every day.
What invaluable piece of advice would I pass along to my moderately normal son, if I were restricted to only one? Pray the Rosary!
You see, so many things people think are important are really of little value in the grand scheme of things. Your home, your occupation, your income, your clothes, your car. They serve a purpose, but in the final analysis, they are just things. In time, they turn to ashes. Even your impressively sculpted, taller-than-me body will turn to ashes. What is important, above all else, is your immortal soul. The state of your immortal soul matters more than any of the trivial items listed above.
Whether you’re aware of it or not, a great battle rages all around you. It is heaven’s intention that you love and serve God with all your heart, mind, and soul. It is with all your heart, mind, and soul, and that you spend eternity with him in unspeakable happiness.
It is Satan’s intention that you be dragged into hell to suffer for all eternity. What’s it going to be?
Since you are in a war, you have to arm yourself for battle, and a great weapon is the Rosary. Know that Mother Mary is fighting on your side. If anyone ever says, “Your mother wears combat boots!,” they are correct. Your Mother is with you in battle.
Remember what Jesus said to Mary as he was hanging on the cross, “Woman, behold, your son.” He said to John, “Behold, your mother” (see John 19). Your mother Mary desires your presence in heaven as much as her son does, and everything she does is designed to increase your appreciation and love for him. Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary is done with the intention of bringing you closer to Jesus.
Some people believe that the Rosary is just mindless “Hail Mary” repetition. These people miss the point of the devotion.
I cannot remember the name of the saint who sat down one day at a desk with the intention of composing a new prayer to Mary. She appeared to him and thanked him for his thoughtfulness, but advised him that no prayer brought more joy to her heart than the Hail Mary.
But more to the point, the key to the Rosary is the meditation on the mysteries. The Hail Marys are really just a timing device. By spending 15 or 20 minutes meditating on the mysteries, you join with Jesus and his mother in the most meaningful events of their lives. And doing so brings you closer to Jesus. There are so many lessons to be learned about faith, humility, obedience, and trust in God. The grace that flows from this meditation is invaluable.
The key to the Rosary is the meditation on the mysteries.
And a side benefit: While immersed in the Rosary, you escape for a while the problems of this world. You lose yourself in the mysteries. And you spend some time contemplating higher matters.
If you never pay attention to anything else that I ever say to you, at least grasp this, and hang on to it. It will lead you to heaven.
FR. ALEX MCCULLOUGH is a priest of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and the pastor of the Winton Wyoming Pastoral Region in Cincinnati.
Editor’s Note: This essay was adapted from an article featured in Catholic Digest on October 3, 2019 and used with permission by Fr. McCullough.