By David Cooley, Associate Editor, Covington Diocese Messenger
May is a month in which Catholics honor Mary in a special way. This time of year it’s common in both parishes and homes for a statue of Mary or a picture of Mary to get a prominent spot where she won’t be easily missed. May altars and Mary gardens are also known to make an appearance — sure signs that the cold dark days of winter are over and the longer, warmer, more colorful days of spring are here. In May it’s also a long-standing tradition to crown the statue of Mary — a custom commonly referred to as May Crowning. Often, the crown is made of flowers representing Mary’s beauty and virtue. The tradition serves as a reminder to the faithful to strive to imitate the virtue of the Blessed Mother in their own lives. But, of course, one of the most basic and popular practices for honoring Mary, especially in May, is praying the rosary.
A contemplative form of prayer, the rosary presents an opportunity for the faithful to enter more deeply into the mystery of the lives of Mary and Jesus.
A couple of years ago Ruah Woods Press, Cincinnati, released a book entitled “Theology of the Body Rosary Meditations,” written by Debbie Staresinic, member of the Board of Directors for Ruah Woods. The book was designed to bring fresh insights and reflections on the mysteries of the rosary through the lens of Pope St. John Paul II’s teachings on the human person in light of the Incarnation.
The book was well received and successful. However, it wasn’t long after it was published that Mrs. Staresinic began thinking about how praying the rosary was, or at least could be, a family activity and she was often asked if there was anything available a little more tailored for young people. Now there is. Last August she published her second book, “On a Mission to Love: Rosary Meditations for Children and Families.”
The premise for “On a Mission to Love” is to present the rosary in a way that is engaging for the typical family. The book encourages praying one decade a day. The rosary meditations, rather than appearing in the traditional paragraph form before a decade, are instead woven throughout. The book presents a one-sentence meditation before each Hail Mary, designed to keep active minds engaged.
“I have heard that many people are using it, including adults, because they like the simple format,” said Mrs. Staresinic. “Writing it mostly with Catholic schools and families in mind — trying to encourage people to cultivate praying the daily rosary — I wanted to make it accessible.”
Mrs. Staresinic explained that if a family or a class prays a decade a day and follows a weekday plan by the end of the week they will have prayed one set of mysteries and by the end of the month they will have prayed all the mysteries of the rosary.
“That might seem little at first, but when you think about it for many that is what’s engaging them in beginning to form the habit of praying the rosary,” she said. “Of course you can pray the full rosary too, if you’d like.”
Mrs. Staresinic said the feedback for the book has been very positive and she has heard of many families, including families with very young children, using it.
“It has been quite humbling and really exciting to hear how popular it has been,” she said.
The artwork in the book is by Brady Barth, a Swiss artist who before she passed away established a foundation for her artwork, whereby all the proceeds from use of her art are donated to charity.
“I thought that idea was beautiful, and her artwork is very clean looking — there is a lot of white space that leaves room for the children’s imaginations. That’s what I was looking for in the whole design of the book; I wanted it to be clean,” Mrs. Staresinic said. “We are all bombarded with a lot of clutter and noise all the time and I wanted this book to be more peaceful, something you could enter into.”
To compliment both books — “On a Mission to Love” and “Theology of the Body Rosary Meditations” — Ruah Woods Press has custom rosaries available.
“For the ‘Theology of the Body Rosary Meditations’ gift set, we hired Ghirelli Rosaries in Italy to design a stunning, custom TOB Rosary. They are all handmade with Bohemian glass beads and the crucifix is the Schoenstatt Cross — or Unity Cross — which is a beautiful depiction of Christ on the Cross with Mary standing below him,” Mrs. Staresinic said. “We also have a rosary that complements ‘On a Mission to Love,’ which is very suitable for children with very bright-colored beads and the unity cross representing the theology of the body.”
Additionally, there is also going to be a new rosary app for ‘On a Mission to Love’ that will feature voices of children from Royalmont Academy in Mason, Ohio. Mrs. Staresinic said that, among other things, the app will enable families to pray together while riding in the car. The target release date for the app is May 13, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.
“I am so excited for this whole thing to come together,” she said. “To hear the children reciting the rosary, using these meditations and to hear their little voices — so pure and innocent — it is just beautiful.”
Mrs. Staresinic said that all of these products are designed to spread the joy of praying the rosary.
“My hope is that it stirs in people a deeper love for Our Lady and for her Son, Jesus, and that, if they haven’t already, begin to find the joy of praying the rosary and share that joy with others,” she said.
For more information or to purchase the rosaries and books visit www.ruahwoodspress.com. You can also follow Debbie Staresinic’s Instagram accounts @tobrosary and @onamissiontolove.