There’s a marvelous relationship that so many Catholics maintain, whether they are active or inactive, in the fold or on the outs. It’s the relationship between them and their rosary beads.
I cannot tell you the number of times I have watched men and women produce rosary beads at wakes, regardless of whether or not they are church-goers. I have seen rosary beads appear during bad flights and in hospital waiting rooms. I don’t doubt that many people who lost or nearly lost their lives on that dreadful day 10 years ago had their beads in hand.
I particularly notice it with women, who move their rosary beads from handbag to handbag. They would no more leave their beads home than they would their money. I do it myself. During the past couple of weeks I attended a family wedding and a formal dinner. I automatically tucked my rosary beads, in their little silk purse, into my tiny evening bag. There was no room for my eyeglasses (I hope I didn’t accidentally snub somebody) but the beads made it. I have to admit mine need some serious attention from the silver polish but they always are with me.
During October, the month of the Rosary – the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was on October 7 – it is worth pondering that lasting relationship between Catholics and their rosary beads.
Perhaps our rosary beads and the Rosary prayer itself connect us to the maternal identity of the Church. No matter where we are – or are not – on our journey of faith, the rosary reminds us that Mary, the Mother of the Church, is our mother, too, since we are the Church. We have the security of knowing that she would no more abandon a wandering, angry or hurting son or daughter than she would her own flesh and blood, Jesus Christ. “Don’t worry, child,” she seems to say each of us, “I am still here for you and, more importantly, so is my Son, your brother.”
Of course, the Rosary is not a replacement for the Sacred Liturgy, nor was it ever intended to be, but pondering our own relationship with the two persons who are intimately connected to the Rosary might nudge us in the direction of the Sacred Liturgy and the sacramental gift of Himself that Jesus wants to give us.
Our rosary beads are a symbol of that connection we have to Jesus and Mary and the Church. It’s a connection that no one can take from us.