Tag Archives: story

My Humble Rosary

Years ago I bought my first rosary. This is it:

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It’s about as simple and plain as one can get. I think it was about $7.00. I now have more than one rosary, but that first rosary is in my pocket with me every day, even as I write this. I typically use this rosary to pray every morning too.

I lived more than forty seven years as a Protestant before becoming a Catholic. The last seven of those years I began searching, researching, and praying. I was being drawn to the Church and, in a sense, I think I knew it. I looked at a lot of choices, including the “emergent church” and Eastern Orthodoxy. But it was the Catholic Church that won my heart and mind.

At some point during those final seven years before entering the Church I purchased the rosary above. I did it secretly, from an online vendor. I cannot express the mix of emotions I felt, having come from a significantly anti-Catholic background. Once it arrived I kept it hidden. I had feelings of carrying contraband when it was in my pocket. I searched online for resources on how to pray the rosary. I printed a one-page guide and kept it folded in my pocket. The guide got so beat up that the creases were taped and retaped to hold it together. I guess I could have just printed a new one, but I tend to get sentimental about these things.

On more than one occasion I thought I lost the rosary. Each time I’ve prayed and then found it. I can get a little panicky about it. I’m not superstitious, but I do care a lot about this particular string of beads.

If I could afford to do so, I would have many rosaries. But it’s this one that’s most precious to me. When I got this rosary I had a strange and, frankly, bizarre feeling somewhere deep in my soul that the Catholic Church was an actual possibility for my life, and I was also convinced there was no way I could ever become Catholic. Equally strange, I really wanted to have a rosary. I had never held a rosary. It’s possible I had never even seen a rosary in real life. I had certainly never prayed to Mary. I had never prayed to anyone other than God the Father or Son. I was trained to think praying to Mary was a form of paganism. But I was weirdly compelled to explore.

So, I got the rosary and learned to pray it. And then, eventually, I began to ask Mary to solve my dilemma. Looking back this seems funny, but I wondered if Mary could get me into the Church — assuming it was God’s will, of course.

Of course she could, and she did.

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Filed under Mary, Prayer, Remembering

a mobius-like meditation on stories and life

Life is a story. Right?

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Perhaps, but a story is not life.

We love personal testimonies. We love when someone tells us the story of their life, all the twists and turns, ups and downs, and final “success” or happy ending. We love the “my life was terrible and then I found God and now I’m happy” stories.

Of course we know those stories are, at least in part, spurious. Never completely trust the autobiographer — even if the ending is not so happy. Not merely because life isn’t so neat, and not only because such stories often arise more from some need to believe in a kind of personal mythology, but also because every story is a reduction of reality to a few key, salient, narrative points. Even if true, those points create a false understanding by themselves.

Life is like a story, and stories can tell us a great deal about life, but life is also an infinitude — mysterious, connected to God, an extension of being itself.

All that I wrote above makes a lot of sense to me, but I have issues with it as well.

We rely on the personal testimonies of eye witnesses for much the the knowledge we get about the world — current and historical. Even our entire system of law requires it.

We trust in the Gospel stories of Christ because of eyewitnesses. They told stories and those stories have to be sufficiently accurate and reliable for us to believe with integrity.

But, then God is an infinitude, mysterious, and the source of being itself. Therefore, stories mediate the impossible to us so that we can believe. Stories, by their nature, hide us in the cleft of the rock as God passes by.

The Gospel is a story, but it is also a person: it is the information about Christ and it is Christ in us. Thus the gospel is simultaneously safe and unsafe.

Thus a story can be life itself.

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Filed under Christian Life, Gospel