Catherine Doherty, rosary in hand, walks to join group already praying it.

Our Life is a Rosary

by Catherine Doherty

Much has been written and will yet be written about the rosary, that simple, profound, almost unfathomable prayer to the gracious Mother of God, which takes her children again and again on the pilgrimage of her life and her Son’s, until, through it, their lives and God’s become one.

Still, there is another “rosary” that many of us miss completely.

It is the one that opens up right at our feet, day by day, hour by hour, on the road all of us must travel, the road to God. It is a strange rosary. Its mysteries embrace the life of Christ and his mother, in the Mystical Body of his Church. It is the rosary of our own life. Listen:


The Joyful Mysteries

The Annunciation by the Angel Gabriel to Mary, and Mary’s “yes” to the will of God (Lk 1:26-38):

Consider a woman. A man. A child. Most of us pray this mystery by living it in some fashion, by surrendering to the will of God in our daily life, for it is the mystery of every family.

How different would our homes be, how quickly would many of our social, psychological, financial, and emotional problems be solved, if we blended our whole married life with the first mystery of the rosary.

The Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth (Lk 1:39-56): Again, this is our life. All of us go on “visitations”—to our relations, friends, and neighbors. Our motives are rooted in the same motives that took the slender teenaged girl Mary on her long, hazardous journey to see her cousin Elizabeth.

The Nativity, the birth of Our Lord: Consider the birth of the Child, or of any child anywhere—ours or someone else’s.

The whole concept of children’s welfare, education and environment, would become loving, deeply Christian and filled with understanding if, in each childbirth, we saw Bethlehem and Christ.

The Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple by Joseph and Mary (Lk 2:22-38): Here is the best example of broad, complete obedience to duly constituted authority. It is a mystery, specifically to be meditated on by government officials and their people.

Nations would be freed of fears if, on the high plane of international relationships, they would make and accept laws as the sinless Mary did when, holding the divine Infant, creator of all things, she submitted herself and him, humbly and obediently, to the Law of her people and her God.

The Finding of Jesus in the Temple by Joseph and Mary after they had searched for him as if lost (Lk 2:41-50): Sorrow and death, separation and loss would become bearable, almost sweet, if we remembered this fifth joyful mystery of the rosary.

If we made it our own, faith would become reality and we would know that in God all separation ends, all loss is retrieved, all sorrows are healed.


The Sorrowful Mysteries

The Agony of Jesus in the Garden (Mt 26:36-46): Is there anyone living who has not been in that Garden of Desolation? How many have never come out of it, or have perished because they chose to be alone there instead of to kneel by the side of the Man of Sorrows who sweat blood for love of them?

To pray out our agonies with Christ and to Christ in this mystery is to begin to possess that peace he promised—the peace which surpasses all understanding.

The Flagellation, the scourging of Jesus (Mk 15:15): Who of us has not been “flagellated” by sickness, pain, or incredible and harsh trials? Why waste all this wealth? Why not receive it from the hands of God? Accept it, side by side, with his Son.

Why not immerse oneself with him, be one with him in this second sorrowful mystery that holds the secret of so many unanswered questions? Let us try. The answers will come.

Jesus is Crowned with Thorns (Mt 27:27-29): Lift your hand and touch your head or your neighbor’s, and each will reveal its own “crown of thorns,” invisible but real.

Poverty, personality problems, work difficulties, loneliness, frustrations, doubts—their name is legion. Tightly woven, the crown is there. How to endure it? How to remove it?

The rosary of our own days, which lies ahead at our feet in the dust of our road to God, is there to be prayed with the rosary of beads, which holds the secrets of life, death, and love.

Jesus Carries His Cross: Need anyone even speak of this? The cross lays heavily at times on all weak, lacerated shoulders.

We cannot throw it off. Our life itself is cruciform, whether we wish it to be or not. Yet if we carry it step by step with Christ, who fell under the weight of his cross, we shall be eased of its heaviness.

The Crucifixion: This too is our lot. To be crucified on the cross of life. Of pain. Of circumstances. Of family. Of a thousand, thousand things. Are we going to be like the saved thief on one side of him or the scoffing one on the other? (Lk 23:39-43).

If we pray this darkest mystery of all, we shall know incredible joy and live in the warmth of constant light.


The Glorious Mysteries

The Resurrection: If we bend and pick up the rosary of our days and blend it with the rosary of the lives of Mary and Jesus, we shall experience the resurrection of spirit and of flesh many times on earth. It will be a foretaste of the resurrection to come. Endless are these little resurrections:

Recovery from illness. Insoluble problems solved. Oh so many others—if we pray.

The Ascension of Jesus into heaven (Acts 1:9-11): Hope of the hopeless. No abyss is so deep, no degradation so complete, that there is no hope for ascension from it.

If only those who think all is over and who are tempted to take their lives would pray this mystery well! They would see and touch their own ascension from the depths of despair.

The Descent of the Holy Spirit on Mary and the Apostles on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4): Constantly, daily, hourly, this mystery takes place. For constantly the Holy Spirit descends into the hearts of the faithful. He enlightens and strengthens us with his divine gifts and graces.

Luminous and of beauty unsurpassed is his constant stream of light. Do we use this third glorious mystery in our drab days?

The Assumption of Mary into heaven: Body and soul, she was taken to heaven. So, too, we shall be reunited after the final judgment with our glorified bodies in joy everlasting.

But even now, today, tomorrow, day by day, we live this mystery.

The mere thought that one of us, a creature, is there before the face of the living, uncreated God changes our attitude to our own flesh. What an influence it would be on writers and on all who produce, if all of us prayed, meditated, and made this glorious mystery our own.

Mary is Crowned Queen of Heaven: We are not alone. Our days are not gray, drab, useless. We have a woman of flesh and blood, a queen who was a creature just like us.

Now is the moment to bend into the dust of our spiritual road and to lift the rosary of our whole lives, day by day, into her queenly hands. It will be safe there, as safe as we ourselves will be, if we are her own.

She will transform our days with her love and care and, in turn, give them to God. Then we shall see God, and be one with him.


Yes, much has been written about that simple, profoundly unfathomable prayer, and much will yet be written. But better than all writings is the praying of it. It leads us into the book of eternal life.

From Bogodoritza, (2001), pp. 32-36, available from MH Publications