Walking in Circles; Praying in Circles

In a desperate attempt to make my exercise routine less boring, I googled how to make your exercise routine less boring. Don’t tell me I’m not clever.

My exercise of choice right this minute is walking, and the park in which I walk requires that I progress around in a circle (albeit a BIG circle) three times in order to get the distance I desire. I like the predictability of walking in circles, but it can get boring. Thus, the googling.

One of the things that kept coming up is the idea of listening to something engaging while you walk. So often I will listen to music. I like listening to music because I tend to walk in tempo with the music, and this results in me changing my speed regularly, something else exercise web sites tell you to do to fight boredom.

But one google search suggested listening to interesting podcasts. Hmmm. I like podcasts, at least to the extent that I have listened to them. I have enjoyed listening to Dan Patrick yap on and on about sports. And heaven knows I have enjoyed the Serial podcasts. I could listen to Sarah Koenig read me the telephone book.

But after contemplating a number of podcasts, I landed on a podcast called Two Catholic Guys. I know. I know. I’m a big nerd. But I have heard their program occasionally on Syrius radio and I have enjoyed listening to their often funny, but ultimately serious take on Catholicism. These aren’t Catholic haters, but instead, two men who love their Catholic faith with all of its faults. As do I, except the notion of having a podcast called One Lonely Catholic Baby Boomer Lady doesn’t resonate.

The Two Catholic Guys podcast I listened to most recently was on the rosary. That caught my attention as I am a big fan of the rosary. Such a fan, in fact, that I have a rosary by my bed and one by my reading chair here in Mesa, and also one by my bed and another readily accessible in Denver. I carry one in my purse to grab if the need arises. Non-Catholics, and probably many Catholics, find it hard to understand the rosary, and consider it to be one of the so-called “voodoo” worship methods of those darn Papists.

I learned my love of the rosary from my parents. My mother was a firm believer in the rosary as a means of prayer. The rosary she had in her hands when she died – and for countless years prior to her death – had small silver beads that would have driven most people crazy but was perfect for her small hands.

My father, while perhaps not quite as devoted as my mother, also prayed the rosary. In fact, one of my favorite stories about my father was that when he would run for exercise, he would pray the rosary. That’s perhaps even better than listening to podcasts.

According to the Two Catholic Guys, St. Pope John Paul II had a strong devotion to the rosary. In fact, it was St. John Paul who, when he was pope, added a whole new set of what Catholics call the Mysteries to the rosary prayer. While there used to be Joyful Mysteries (which concentrated on Jesus’ life as a child, ending when he was found by his parents in the temple), Sorrowful Mysteries (which focused on Christ’s passion), and Glorious Mysteries (which are dedicated to Christ after his resurrection), he recognized that there was a whole section of Jesus’ life being left out of rosary contemplation, that being his whole public life. Kind of important, I would suggest. So the pope added the Luminous Mysteries.

As a child, I sort of considered that there was something just short of magical about the rosary – not the prayer; the actual set of beads. As such – and as I still do today – I would get my rosary blessed by a priest. As I have reached a more mature age, I recognize that the rosary itself is not magical, but only an implement for counting prayers.

And the prayers of the rosary, at least for me, are soothing and peaceful. I have actually taken my blood pressure before and after saying a rosary and it has dropped 20 points. But I have to continually remind myself that the rosary is a contemplative prayer rather than a race. That’s hard for me, because despite the fact that I’m retired with rarely anyplace I have to be, I’m always in a hurry. While I’m sure my 10-minute rosaries reach God’s ears, the meditative aspect leaves something to be desired.

I’m not trying to convert a single reader into a being a devotee of the rosary. But the words of the Two Catholic Guys just reminded me that there are so many ways to pray. And since I have devoted many rosaries to a friend of mine with pancreatic cancer, the fact that she called me yesterday to tell me her cancer numbers are entirely normal and the results of a PT scan yesterday show the tumor has shrunk to the point that her doctor is scratching her head in amazement indicate that God listens to all sorts of prayer.

4 thoughts on “Walking in Circles; Praying in Circles

  1. That is amazing news about your friend!
    I feel the same way about holding a rosary. I guess because if you are holding it you are praying. If I’m going through an emotional time I feel peace just holding it in my hands. It’s like holding onto God with something you can feel physically.

  2. I love the rosary! I am the same as you — a rosary in every port. My darling friend Rachel’s grandfather (now gone to heaven) made string rosaries and that is my car rosary, and I have my first rosary in my purse for — as you say– emergency situations. I have mom’s at home, one from Toledo Spain, another from a Vietnam shrine (not a lot of Catholic shrines in Buddist land!), and a white bead rosary from Tracy’s son Shane (Godson). Adam Henry has Henry Jacobi’s rosary. I am going to subscribe to the pod cast! With my long drives and traumatic days, I love thinking and listening. I subscribe to On Being. I think as a writer you would love most of the podcasts there. I recommend you begin with the interview with Marie Howe. Thank you for your daily stories, Kris.

  3. p.s. Esther prayed the rosary every day to and from work. She prayed for PEACE every day and was a little resentful that the World noticed Thatcher, Reagan, and Pope John Paul for their triad of peace and did not includ her! p.p.s.s. Our forever best friends and I were going to a Rosary for a former colleague and, I swear, I had to say to Sheila, “For Heaven’s sake, we are not going to cut off the head of chickens!” because she was (a Baptist) so freaked out about what a Rosary “was”.

Comments are closed.