A Protestant Praying The Rosary
I'm Ed The Protestant. In the fall of 2021 Greg Smith (creator of Considering Catholicism) invited me to not only consider the Catholic faith, but to record our (already ongoing) conversations for his podcast. If you're a Protestant considering Catholicism, I invite you to listen and consider.
I bought a set of Rosary beads. I've been a Protestant all my life, but...now I own a set of Rosary beads. This is the first thing I've done that has felt really, you know, Catholic. Greg taught me how to use them, which prayers to pray, etc., and I wrote it all down, made a little cheat sheet, and then there was nothing left to do but either pray the Rosary or don't pray the Rosary. Compared to the rest of the world, this is a tiny, tiny thing--some guy in the Midwest praying the Rosary. But this is my tiny, tiny world, and in it, this is a big, big thing.
It's just so Catholic, holding those Catholic beads, and the Rosary is such a Catholic prayer. Like if I do this, I really can't call myself a Protestant anymore. Like it will change everything in a way that will not be easy to undo.
The first time I prayed it I was sitting in my Jeep. It was a day to meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries, so the first one was Jesus' agony in the garden. There was a tree out in front of me about 50 feet, so as I moved through the first set of ten Hail Mary's, I pictured Jesus kneeling by that tree, praying. I found myself thinking, "Mary was a real woman who had a real son, and he was praying during an agonizing night." I don't know if she was actually there, but she would have been around and aware of the circumstances.
This made it all so much more immediate to me, much more human. What was Mary feeling during this, and the scourging, the crown of thorns, and all the rest that came after? How could it be anything other than agony for her as well? This was a way I'd never seen all these things, and seeing it that way, it all became connected to time and place and real people.
When I finished, I looked up and thought, "Well...here we go."
A few days later when I meditated on Mary's Assumption, I found myself cheering her on. I wanted to say, "You did it! Well done!" I also found myself wanting to hear those same words, and I felt inspired to run my own race well.
I've prayed it every day but one for the last week or more, and the experience hasn't changed. I feel far more connected, humanly, to Jesus' story. Also, I feel kinda...Catholic.
The picture below is my own set of prayer beads, a crude stringing together of dime store beads on a guitar string. I bought beads of all sizes and shapes so I could feel the difference, and then assigned each bead to something or someone I wanted to pray about. Family, friends, etc. I have loved the tactile-ness of this approach, associating various beads with various people, and the same thing is happening with the Rosary. Taking the beads in my hand is a new experience, and I find myself looking forward to it every time.