A friend of mine related this story to me on Friday, and I thought I'd share. here is a bit of background.
My friend is the teacher of a primary class in a local Catholic school. Despite the school being Catholic, many, if not most of the children in it are not well formed in their faith at home.
A couple of months back and through a rather intricate series of events involving a Christopher West marriage prep kit, catechists from up the Valley, and a deacon from further down the Valley, I ended up with what seemed like a lot of mission rosaries that I didn't know what to do with.
These rosaries were of the very inexpensive variety. When I offered them to my RCIA group, one of the gals said "No thanks. I have a real one at home."
I was talking about my rosaries to my teacher friend who said she'd always wanted a class set of rosaries for her classroom.
I asked her how many she needed and she said twenty-three. We sat down to untangle the knotty pile of rosaries and counted them. There were exactly twenty-three. I gave them to her.
Last Friday, she was relating the effect these rosaries are having on her class.
Each child has a rosary to keep in his or her desk. They take them out as a class and start with the very basics. The first day, the children wanted to do an entire Rosary.
My friend said to them that they would only get the 'tail' done that day. She told them that to do a whole Rosary would take at least half an hour or maybe 45 minutes! I should also tell you that my friend was herself learning the Rosary along with the children!
As time progressed, the children had learned the Hail Mary, the Glory Be, the Our Father and were learning the other prayers associated with the Rosary. The children became very upset if they forgot their rosaries at home.
The few children in the class who are not Roman Catholic are learning the prayers along with the rest of the class. One little fellow whose father is actually a minister in another faith was seen to turn around and teach a new child in the class how it was done.
They are also learning the Mysteries associated with the Rosary. One day, shortly after they'd begun their instruction, my friend was speculating as to which mysteries they were to do on that day. To her surprise one little boy piped up "Well Miss, if it's Tuesday it must be the Sorrowful Mysteries!"
Children who wish to lead a decade are invited to do so and are pleased to participate in this way.
And they are still champing at the bit to finish an entire Rosary. My friend has now learned that it will not take 45 minutes to finish, but more like 20 or 25 mintutes.
My hat is off to my friend for taking on what would seem like an onerous task to many, especially when it means she admits to her class that she is learning right along with them. She is definitely one of the better examples of the quality of religious education in our Catholic schools.
The Rosary is a prayer that I am relatively new to and am only now really beginning to feel like I am at home with it. What is rather sad about this is that I spent three of my highschool years in a Catholic school and was in Catechism class from grade 1 to grade 7 or 8. And I never learned the Rosary. I do not even recall it being discussed.
Many people seem under the impression that devotions were done away with, or at least discouraged by the Second Vatican Council. This is certainly not true. I think that that Catholic world is beginning to feel the loss of these devotional practices, including the Rosary, and more and more people are taking up these practices again. In both of the years I have worked with RCIA (that would be the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults...or the formal way adults from other faiths or no faiths enter the Catholic Church) we instructors were specifically asked when we would be teaching the Rosary! This year one of our candidates had already taught himself long before we did it.