The Most Holy Rosary is, after the Most Sacred Liturgy (the Holy Mass and the Divine Office) and Mental prayer, the most important of all prayers not least of which because it prepares and leads us into those two other higher forms of prayer. And thus it is of the greatest importance that families pray the Rosary together each and every day. This is a teaching that has been particularly dear to the hearts of the Popes and Holy people of recent times.
I would like to begin with a very wise and fitting recommendation for families to live out their vocation of imitation of the Holy Family I once read and which struck me most profoundly and has never left me. I came across this advice in the wonderful book: The World’s First Love – Mary Mother of God, by the late great Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen…
“…(T)o all young married couples: here is your model, your prototype, you Divine Imaginal. From these two spouses, who loved as no couple on earth has ever loved, learn that it takes not two to love, but three: you and you and Jesus. Do you not speak of “our love” as something distinct from the love of each one of you? That love, outside of both of you, and which is more than the addition of your two loves, is the love of God.
“Married couples ought to say the Rosary together each night, for their common prayer is more than the separate prayers of each. When the child comes, they should say it before the crib, as Joseph and Mary prayed there. In this earthly trinity of Child, mother, and foster father, there were not two hearts with but a single thought but one great Heart into which the other two poured themselves out as confluent streams…”
This is a most beautiful practice and indeed one, as I have said, which as been promoted by the Holy Fathers…
“The fathers and mothers of families particularly must give an example to their children, especially when, at sunset, they gather together after the day’s work, within the domestic walls, and recite the Holy Rosary on bended knees before the image of the Virgin, together fusing voice, faith and sentiment. This is a beautiful and salutary custom, from which certainly there cannot but be derived tranquility and abundance of heavenly gifts for the household.” -Pope Pius XI, Ingravescentibus malis, #28
“But it is above all in the bosom of the family that We desire the custom of the Holy Rosary to be everywhere adopted, religiously preserved, and ever more intensely practiced. In vain is a remedy sought for the wavering fate of civil life, if the family, the principle and foundation of the human community, is not fashioned after the pattern of the Gospel. To undertake such a difficult duty, We affirm that the custom of the family recitation of the Holy Rosary is a most efficacious means. What a sweet sight — most pleasing tO God — when, at eventide, the Christian home resounds with the frequent repetition of praises in honor of the august Queen of Heaven! Then the Rosary, recited in common, assembles before the image of the Virgin, in an admirable union of hearts, the parents and their children, who come back from their daily work. It unites them piously with those absent and those dead. It links all more tightly in a sweet bond of love, with the most Holy Virgin, who, like a loving mother, in the circle of her children, will be there bestowing upon them an abundance of the gifts of concord and family peace. ” -Ven. Pope Pius XII, Ingruentium malorum
“There is no doubt that, after the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, the high point which family prayer can reach, the Rosary should be considered as one of the best and most efficacious prayers in common that the Christian family is invited to recite. We like to think, and sincerely hope, that when the family gathering becomes a time of prayer, the Rosary is a frequent and favored manner of praying. We are well aware that the changed conditions of life today do not make family gatherings easy, and that even when such a gathering is possible many circumstances make it difficult to turn it into an occasion of prayer. There is no doubt of the difficulty. But it is characteristic of the Christian in his manner of life not to give in to circumstances but to overcome them, not to succumb but to make an effort. Families which want to live in full measure the vocation and spirituality proper to the Christian family must therefore devote all their energies to overcoming the pressures that hinder family gatherings and prayer in common. In concluding these observations, which give proof of the concern and esteem which the Apostolic See has for the Rosary of the Blessed Virgin, we desire at the same time to recommend that this very worthy devotion should not be propagated in a way that is too one-sided or exclusive. The Rosary is an excellent prayer, but the faithful should feel serenely free in its regard. They should be drawn to its calm recitation by its intrinsic appeal.” -Pope Paul VI, Marialis cultus, #54-55
“The family that prays together stays together. The Holy Rosary, by age-old tradition, has shown itself particularly effective as a prayer which brings the family together. Individual family members, in turning their eyes towards Jesus, also regain the ability to look one another in the eye, to communicate, to show solidarity, to forgive one another and to see their covenant of love renewed in the Spirit of God. Many of the problems facing contemporary families, especially in economically developed societies, result from their increasing difficulty in communicating. Families seldom manage to come together, and the rare occasions when they do are often taken up with watching television. To return to the recitation of the family Rosary means filling daily life with very different images, images of the mystery of salvation: the image of the Redeemer, the image of his most Blessed Mother. The family that recites the Rosary together reproduces something of the atmosphere of the household of Nazareth: its members place Jesus at the centre, they share his joys and sorrows, they place their needs and their plans in his hands, they draw from him the hope and the strength to go on.” -Saint Pope John Paul II, Rosarium virginis mariae
“I invite you to pray the Rosary personally, in the family and in the community, learning at the school of Mary, which leads us to Christ, the living center of our faith.” -Pope Benedict XVI, Sunday Angelus, 7 October 2012
O! That you married couples and your children may be an image of the Holy Family. That is my prayer for you.