John Monczunski was my editor for many years at Notre Dame Magazine. On a cross-country trip in 2007, I stopped by South Bend, and he gave me a tour of the campus, treated me to a classy dinner, and told me of the own lovely way he’d developed of praying the Rosary. I’ve kept it all these years.
With his permission, here it is:
JOHN’S VERSION OF THE ROSARY:
The way I look at it the whole thing I think is a kind of meditation on the Mystical Body, starting from God Who is Love and going full circle (eternity) around the beads back to God Who is Love.
So the first thing I do is rub the cross with my fingers, caressing it and as I do that I think/say to myself, “This is Love incarnate. This is what it means sometimes to be Love. This is what created and sustains the universe.” And then I pause (a nanosecond or more) and think about that a little.
Then I move to the first single bead (and for me all the single beads signify me) and then I finger/caress this bead and think/say to myself “Help me to be this Love incarnate today. Help me to be Love.”
Then I move to the three beads. And these for me are for the three people closest to me now. In my case they are my two daughters and my mother. And one by one I caress the bead which symbolizes the person, and in my mind as I caress the bead I caress the person. I think about the person, what they may be doing as I hold the bead and I hold them in my heart and I wish God’s love for them, God’s help in whatever challenge they may be confronted with, and I thank God for them in my life, and I sort of just hold them symbolically for a second, and I pray that whomever they may come in contact with that day, whomever they love, will be touched by God’s love as well.
Then I move to the next single bead—and although I said earlier that all the single beads are me, I was wrong. This one I guess is the “exes bead.” As I hold this bead I think about my ex-wife, Diane, and her friend, Brien, and I pray (I guess I don’t caress them exactly) that they are happy and safe and well. At this bead I also think about the other women I have been close too since my divorce. My dear, sweet friend Lori, who is completing treatment for breast cancer, and a woman I care about deeply with whom I will probably never have a relationship.
At the little medal that joins the circle of beads, I think about and caress my father and other relatives and friends who have died. I hold them close to my heart and thank God for them in my lives.
Then I move to the decades. Each bead is another person. I hold/caress each bead think about someone (I usually start with my closest family members and then work my way out through all the decades to friends, casual acquaintances, people I may have glanced at on the street in an ever widening circle). In each case, I sort of think about the person, hold him or her to my heart, wish them well, pray for their welfare and the welfare of those with whom they may come in contact).
Each decade is interrupted with the single bead, which brings me back to myself. And I think about myself, thank God for everything/everyone in my life. Remind myself that I am to be, like Jesus, love incarnate in the world today. (That is the whole point of Christianity in my opinion, the whole point of the Eucharist. What we eat is to become us!)
So I go through the whole circle of beads and whatever person happens to come to my mind at that instant gets assigned to that particular bead and I symbolically hold them to my heart and thank God for them in my life. And I go full circle, back to the little medal thingy where I think one last time about my Dad. And then the “ex loves” bead, then the three, my daughters and mom, and then one last time the Me bead, thinking about what I’m all about, up against, needy for etc. and my need to be like Jesus, love incarnate today.
And then, finally, fingering/caressing the Cross, “This is Love. This, giving yourself freely, is what it means to love sometimes (always?). This is what created and sustains the universe.”
The whole thing is pretty flexible. I change it a little here and there. Whatever works I keep. What doesn’t, toss out.
It’s sort of funny how I started doing this. It was actually when I took my bus trip pilgrimage around the country when I met you the first time. Any how, I was on the road for 30 days and during that time I got homesick. And somehow or other I stumbled on this notion that even if I couldn’t hold my daughters physically I could call them to mind and caress them symbolically while I caressed the bead. And that really helped.
And I got to thinking about the relationship between God, Jesus, Me and Love and it sort of just evolved. Later this notion was of some comfort to me after my Dad died a couple of years ago. In a sense I could still touch him. It was a way to continue to be close to all the people I loved even though they were distant.