5 Ways the Rosary Increases Spiritual Fitness and Endurance
A new year has dawned and with it millions of resolutions. Better health, more travel, eliminate debt…everyone is talking about trimming their physical and financial waistlines, but what about resolutions for spiritual fitness?
St. Paul writes that the Christian life is not a timid one, but a battle against dark forces (Ephesians 6: 12), an obstacle race toward the great prize of Christ (Heb. 12: 1, 2 Tim 4: 7), and Jesus declares that only those who “endure until the end will be saved,” (Matt. 24: 13).
If prayer is the great battleground of the Christian life, then we require effective weapons. Here are a few ways the rosary serves as a great weapon of prayer and tool for our spiritual fitness.
1) Rosary: A Weapon of the Church
We, the Church, are described as Christ’s body (1 Corinth 12: 27), the “pillar and foundation of truth” built (1 Tim. 3: 15) upon the rock of Peter and the apostles (Matt. 16: 18), and sent into the world “as sheep among wolves (Matt. 10: 16).
That sounds serious, and dangerous, but as the deposit and protector of the Faith, the Holy Spirit has helped the Church develop “weapons of war” in the struggle against Satan. The rosary, which is a meditation on the life of Christ via Scripture, is one of its most potent tools because it is a constant study and witness of the Gospel.
In this way, we can ensure as Christ promised, that the “gates of hell shall not prevail against it [the Church]” (Matt. 16:18).
2) Isn’t the Rosary a Catholic Invention? Where is it in the Bible?
This is a common objection, but it makes about as much sense as saying that the United States shouldn’t use modern weapons because those weapons were not used by the Continental Army of the Revolutionary War. In addition, the rosary is a meditation on the entire life of Christ using Scripture, so there is no separation between the Bible and the rosary.
The rosary is but one weapon and tool developed by the Church in a 2,000 year-long research and development campaign against the dark forces around us.
3) The Rosary Develops Spiritual Endurance
St. Paul writes that we must “pray unceasingly” (1 Thess. 5: 17). To do something unceasingly requires endurance, but how do we train?
Physical endurance training gives an athlete patience, mental and physical longevity, and is achieved through the repetition of sets of exercises which challenge cardio-respiratory and muscular groups over time.
Similarly, praying the rosary is endurance training for spiritual combat.
The introduction of an exercise (the announcement of a “mystery” in the life of Christ”), a set of repetitions for that exercise (10 Hail Marys which petition her prayerful intercession), followed by recovery (Our Father and Glory Be). A rosary is a five-set (Mystery) workout with 10 reps (Hail Mary) for each exercise. Each bead is an challenge of endurance as we pray and hold ourselves up against the life of Jesus.
4) The Rosary Conforms us to Christ
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.” –Aristotle
With each day, the rosary reflects a different part of Jesus’ life and mission, from His birth, teachings, death, to His resurrection like exercising a new spiritual muscle group each day. In this way, by hearing and hearing the Word (Rom. 10: 17) and meditating on Christ’s life, we conform ourselves more and more with Jesus (Rom. 9: 29), that we might go into the world confident in grace, knowing the way of the Master.
5) The Rosary Teaches us to Call for Reinforcements
In Christian combat we work more effectively as a fighting unit, not as individuals. The account of the early Church in Acts tells us:
“They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.” –Acts 2: 42
One of the most conspicuous parts of the rosary is the “Hail Mary” series between each Mystery. The Hail Mary is actually a combination of the angel Gabriel’s greeting, and her cousin Elizabeth’s proclamation during Mary’s visit following the Annunciation. We then ask Mary to pray for us, just as we would ask anyone to join us in supplication to the Lord.
In this way, we are reminded of our communal struggle and that while we can certainly pray on our own, the Bible encourages us to recognize that we are far more effective as a Body instead as independent operatives (Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12, 1 Tim 2: 1, Eph. 6: 18).
Part of the genius of Christ’s Catholic Church is the treasury of tools and avenues of grace which segue us ever closer to heaven. If this life is truly a race and battle as St. Paul observed, then it is one of endurance, and there is no better training to “conform our lives to Christ” than the rosary which transforms His very life, bead by bead, rep by rep, into a meditation and prayer, with Mary beside us like a personal trainer as we fix our eyes on the goal: Jesus.
“However great may be the temptation, if we know how to use the weapon of prayer well we shall come off conquerors at last, for prayer is more powerful than all the devils.” — St. Bernard of Clairvaux
Are you training for the race toward Christ? Are you ready to begin spiritual fitness training? Pick up a rosary and find a group or friend to pray with today.by