Rosary or meditation?

I have a choice to make. I don’t have much time to pray, a little before I go to bed. Currently, I am saying the rosary. In the past, when I had more time, I would also do a little meditation/just talking to God. Now I find myself wanting to do this again, but I don’t have the time since I say the rosary. I love saying the rosary, but it is limited. I think personally, I would make more progress with meditation, but then I get scruples, i.e., I remember how de Montfort said that any inclination to not say the rosary is from the devil, and how many saints and the Church have praised it. The funny thing is, none of my favorite saints prayed the rosary, except Padre Pio, and they all attained great virtue. To sum up what I’m saying, I would rather just meditate because I enjoy the simple quiet time with God (I can just talk and listen, not so with the rosary), and I can meditate on so many more subjects, and I don’t have the time for both.

I used to worry about the same thing. You see I would recommend the rosary by far is the best plus it can act if done correctly as a form of mental prayer. If you say the rosary devoutly that’s about 30 mins of mental prayer. What I do is to apply the mysteries to my life and make resolutions. For example I try to pray the 15 decades everyday and I usually pray the sorrowful mysteries in the morning for like 35 mins as devoutly as possible. Then after a mystery I spend maybe 30 secs recalling the mind what I have just meditated on and then I make a resolution to overcome some fault and offer it to God. Don’t worry, unless you have lot’s of free time then maybe I would recommend practicing discursive meditation but to be honest the rosary is better and if you can only say 5 decades then try and think about those mysteries throughout the day and how they can be incorrporated into your life. The rosary leads to contemplation as does discursive planned meditation. Also I would recommend lectio divina aswell which is a meditative ancient christian approach to praying the word of God i.e. the scriptures. Do that for like 30 mins a day and that is also meditation and God speaks to you. It is magnificent believe me! Hope this info helps and God Bless!

Meditation for me often results in day-dreaming…you know, one thought leads to another. The structure of the Rosary seems a much better form to stay “on target”. And, really, the Rosary is about meditation, if mainly on the mysteries used that time. It seems to me like the Rosary is the best of both methods you describe, and can limit the wandering mind more effectively.

Dear Friend,

The Rosary is a meditative prayer, as well as a vocal prayer. Very young children can be taught to pray the vocal prayer, but it takes time for them to learn how to engage the mind in discursive meditation. “Talking with God” can also be meditative, as in St. Teresa of Avila’s statement that prayer is a conversation with one whom we know loves us.

It seems to me that your choice is not necessarily between the Rosary or meditation as it may be between praying with formula prayers, such as the Rosary contains, (Creed, Our Father, Hail Mary and Gloria) with meditation on the mysteries or using “spontaneous prayers” which are your own words and thoughts. There is a place for both in our lives. Spontaneous prayers can go on all during the day, riding the bus, waiting on line, etc. etc. while the Rosary requires a space of time when we can focus our attention on the prayers as well as the Mysteries of the Rosary. A quiet place is important too.

I don’t remember reading that particular bit of advice from St. Louis de Montfort, but it is good to be aware of the enmity that exists between Satan and Mary, which we read in Genesis 3. Satan would not want us to pray to, or with, Mary, for he knows that she leads us to Jesus (whether we are aware of it or not). Mary’s unique vocation was to bring Jesus to birth physically into this world by His Incarnation, and she continues to live that beautiful Will of God by bringing Jesus to us in spiritual ways. She intercedes for us with all the love God has given her for us. Her example of humility and perfect obedience to His Will is always a Model for us, as human persons. The great work God has done in Mary: “perfect union with Him in charity” is the holiness to which all of us are called.

I encourage you to continue praying the Rosary with attention and devotion, even just one decade a night. Ponder the Mysteries of Jesus and Mary and trust the Holy Spirit to continue teaching you the complete Truth of Jesus and how you are to grow in holiness.

The Rosary is not easy, in that we can get distracted by the repetition, but it is worth the effort. Have you ever read Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter “On the Most Holy Rosary”? The Rosary was his favorite prayer. See HERE. True devotion to Mary is something in which we grow by God’s Grace. Hope this helps a bit :slight_smile:

They’re both good practices. If your time for prayer is somewhat limited, maybe you could change up? In other words, do meditation one evening and say the rosary another evening?

That’s one real and not often recognized beauty of Catholic spirituality: There is a very wide variety of prayer and meditation styles and methods to sample, and anyone not bound by living under a Rule (in other words, someone not in a community of consecrated religious, who have their own specific practices,) can browse and find the method or methods that speak the most to his/her heart, and can change when spiritual needs or circumstances change.

For example, sometimes I’m in more of a seeking or intellectual space: Reading scripture and lectio divina works well here. Sometimes I’m more affectively driven, which is when I do more contemplation than usual. And sometimes I’m dry as a bone, what works best for me at those times are carefully saying the formally structured prayers of the Church, as well as time spent in Eucharistic Adoration.

The biggest point for me is to make sure I make time for prayer every day.

Why not do a little of each? For example say a decade a day thru the week followed by meditative prayer. Then on the weekends when you have more time do both.


I should have clarified a few things. First, I am devoted to the BVM: I usually pray to her in meditation anyway.

Second, I am a very deep thinker. Once I get going thinking on something in meditation, I like to follow it up, so to speak, really try and get everything out of it. And then I like just total silence. The rosary does not allow this for me. I cannot follow up on a good topic in my meditations.

Third, the rosary is limited in subjects. Only 15 mysteries. There are countless things to meditate on in Catholicism, and particularly relating to my habitual sins.

Fourth, I think simple meditation will be better for my mental health. I am an tense/anxious person, and the quiet time will really help out with that.

I will probably save the rosary for weekends, and maybe when I really cannot meditate.

I think it’s very good to pray the Rosary… I wouldn’t advise anyone to omit it. Can you do your meditation and simply talking to God at another time? For example… on the bus, travelling, walking, while taking a break, etc… it might important to simply make that time, even if it’s 10 minutes. :slight_smile: I often did this while travelling on the bus and that works well.

God bless

Here is my advice, because the mysteries are TWO times a week (excluding the Luminous Mysteries), you can say the Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious, and Luminous Mysteries once a week, and thus, you will have THREE DAYS where you can choose to pray the way you wish to pray, in silence, etc.

You can do this until you feel as though you have more time, but since you are busy and don’t have enough time, this is the best thing to do, just be careful, don’t get too attracted to not praying the rosary three times a week, eventually you may end up not praying the rosary as often and that cannot be good. Trust me, it’s happened to me before, thank God the month of October is dedicated to the rosary, so I will be able to get back to praying the rosary daily (and this time with the family!).

So that’s my advice, pray the rosary four times a week (Joyful = Mondays and Saturdays, so you can just do Mondays OR Saturdays, etc).

No. The only time to pray is before bed. I am very busy with work and school. I have tried doing both, and ended up alienating myself from my family and friends.

Again, I am not saying the roasry is bad. I enjoy the rosary and know its benefits. Its a question of personal choice. I am starting to wonder why I even posted this thread. The rosary just isn’t working as my only means of mental prayer.

On an interesting side note, one saint who found the rosary actually disgusting was none other than St. Teresa of Avila. I guess it didn’t work out for her either, and no-one doubts her sanctity. There were saints before the rosary. Eastern rite Catholics do not pray it much either from the information I have aquired. Again, I am not bashing the rosary. But to each his own. And I never said I will give it up completely either.

Hello James,
I agree with your sentiment about the Rosary being about meditation. As a Presbyterian you will obviously know that we do not use them or pray the Rosary.But I have for many years used the Rosary as a meditative device in my prayers.I will take a bead at a time recalling a sin and humble my self before the Lord and ask his forgiveness.I don’t know if it’s a result of doing this contemplative meditation for years, but I can say the Our Father continually in my head whilst talking orally to my Lord about my weaknesses and sin.To every bead I assign a vocation.Bead 1 I ask remission of my sin’s Bead 2 I thank God for all the blessings in life Bead 3 I pray for all the people in my life for those that love me and Bead 4 for those that do not ect ect. When I reach Christ on the crucifix I make the Signum Crucis on my forehead and say the trinitarian formula then kiss the blessed Lord. I like to set aside two hours every day. The Bead for world peace has seen a lot of action lately. Sorry if I have bored you,I just wanted to share it with someone! :shrug:

Your Brother in Christ,

I am a secular Carmelite and I’ve always had a touch of scruples on this subject.

It seems all I hear in community is rosary, rosary, rosary! I have never been able to pray this way being more like St. Teresa of Avila needing a few lines from a book to settle my mind and enter into interior conversation with God. In short, my way is the way of Brother Lawrence and the Practice of the Presence of God. Set prayers and formulas often conflict and even seem a bit unnatural with this habitual, spontaneous Prayer of the Heart as Brother himself noted … a returning to the “means” when the “ends” have already been found. And our own Constitutions should have alleviated my concern: that the rosary, while desirable, should always be secondary to our obligation to “ponder always.” Nevertheless, I always felt a bit like a second class Carmelite!

Finally, after several years of gathering up my nerve I sat down for a talk with a wise friar. When he learned of my concern - and how pensive I was about it - he broke out in a great big belly laugh and said “you’re worried about that!”

He then proceeded to tell me in a very calm and reassuring way that I am, in fact, proceeding on a good path and that I should always follow how the Holy Spirit is leading me to pray. The rosary is good for some … not so much for others. He also pointed out the text from Story of a Soul where St. Therese expressed a very strong distaste for the rosary that in no way diminished her love and devotion to the Blessed Virgin.

You are in good company … hope this little story helps!

Dave :slight_smile:

I am a big fan of the rosary and will always recommend it. However, St. Francis de Sales did say that if you only have time for either the rosary or for mental prayer, always choose mental prayer.

(I assume he meant mental prayer by itself, as the rosary certainly involves meditation.)

DBT: that’s a funny story you have, but a good point too.

As for JaredR’s reference to Francis de Sales, thanks for that too. I knew he loved the rosary also, but I didn’t know he said that.

These last too posts addressed my underlying question: how to reconcile practically all spiritual teaching regarding meditation, and yet find time for the rosary, which doesn’t quite “fit” these methods, at least timewise (I do know the rosary can complement any Catholic’s spiritual life). For example, I am interested in Ignatian spirituality, but if I prayed the rosary instead of meditating the way Ignatius suggests, I would get nowhere in this particular school. Esp. when it comes to taking time for the daily examen.

I am enrolled in the rosary confraternity as well, so I will keep up my weekly 15 decade obligation.

Thanks for your thoughts, Richard. You have found yet another way to use the Rosary in meditation, and you spend so much more time in meditation than this old man does. Actually, if you pray the Hail Mary (very Scriptural) on the 50 beads, it will become a prayerful background for your meditation, whether it be on the mysteries of the Rosary, or on the mysteries of life which you are now doing.

I find, myself, that the concentration on the Rosary mysteries is never repetitive, which seems to be the experience of some who have posted here. Each time I face a mystery for a new decade of the Rosary, I come face-to-face with an application to my current (old man’s) life. Each time (weekly, monthly) that the Mysteries are repeated, I seem to come to a fresh application to what I am experiencing. As you may gather, I do not say the Rosary daily, but, instead, try to say the Liturgy of the Hours each day. That may be why I do not find the Rosary mysteries as repetitive as someone who says the Rosary daily.

Thank you for your insight and your sharing. G-d bless you!

Well, I tried it and… I miss telling Our Lady’s beads, so I’m back at em’:thumbsup:

LOL! For some reason I knew that was going to happen! :thumbsup:

Once our Mother Mary has us, she not willing to let us stray! For me there’s no prayer that is as fulfilled as the Most Holy Rosary Of Our Blessed Mother Mary!

I’ve joined the Rosary Confraternity.

That was wild. Mary completed the link for me! :thumbsup:

Dear Friend,

So good to read your post! Yes, hold tight to “Our Lady’s beads”. It is like holding on to her Hand! As Blessed John Paul II wrote in his Apostolic Letter “On the Holy Rosary”:

…With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.

By the power of His Grace, may we all continue to grow in holiness, and continue to experience the depth of His Love, through Mary.

Oh, heck! I’m doing the Spiritual Exercises, 19th Annotation, myself. The rosary, especially if you “slice it up” decade by decade, can be used for part of the Triple Colloquy, when you are going through weeks 2-4 in the meditations on the life of Christ. My director (a Jesuit) pointed that out to me. For example, if you are meditating on the Nativity in the Exercises, finish the meditation with a colloquy to Mary, and end that with the third joyful mystery decade.

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