Personally I began by using the Rosary
to keep my mind on those for whom I wished to pray, that is as a tool of
intercession, before I ever used it for intellectual contemplation of the
mysteries themselves. Many protestant traditions seem to have lost the
notion of 'Intention'. Which is a very great pity since the idea of doing
one thing in order for something else - completely unrelated - is not only
magical it is behaviour akin to that of God Himself. For in what way is
our dear Lord related to our sins? What have they to do with him? Except
that he gave his life in order to take away their power to rule us. That
is, his Whole life, including his Birth, Death and Resurrection.
This has a great and deep advantage for
us, practically speaking. I cannot twist my mind or my feelings to love
and forgive someone, let's say. But I can offer a few moment's genuine
prayer for their well being. If that is too hard I will light a candle.
Not that God needs reminding, but rather that I do. Let this candle be
for my enemy's greatest good, no matter what I feel or think. I will stare
at it, and pray no word about him lest I spend more of my life rehearsing
the treadmill of my rage. I will pray Our Father till I stop thinking of
the enemy at all and offer the lot 'for the good of'. There is another
advantage to this method of prayer. It means we have to take our cotton
pickin' hands off. We're not going to go out there and harangue, badger,
nag or beat to death with good works - and we are not going to manipulate
the object of our intention. We offer the time and the energy and that's
all. Our emotions and our wishes are beside the point. If my mind is slowly
caught and brought round to God, then it is not feeding wrong things by
dwelling on them, is it? But the love and attention and time are His to
do what he likes with. I sometimes think of Our Lord's saying, behold,
I stand at the door and knock, and think that this offering of the space
of a prayer is just that, holding the door open for him to do what he wishes..
So - to offer a rosary for intention
can be done in two ways. The first is simply to tell our Lady that we're
offering this meditation on her mysteries for something, and then turn
our minds to the events of the mystery. Even so - as we offer the three
beads of faith, hope and love, we can do so thinking of the overall
intention of the prayers to come. We remember, by reciting the creed, the
context in which the matter or person in our minds lives, which is a world
of eternal creative redemptive and inpired action by God himself. We remember
as we pray the Lord's prayer that this is one prayer that our Dear lord
Jesus always shares with us. It is proper for us to ask him to pray with
us for this person or this experience. For why ? When they asked him to
teach them how to pray his first word was 'Our'..
The second method is extremely simple.
Simply keep your attention on the person or the situation for which you
are interceeding, and pray an Ave. It may be that you will feel that longer
is needed, so continue till it is time to move on to the next person or
situation. This means I think, that we are offering a certain amount of
time and energy for this person or this happening.
We're all used to the notion of an Intention
for a rosary. Wonderful friends of our family used to pray the rosary for
me and a cousin every night of their lives. I'm sure I owe much of
what I am and do to their generosity and love, for they never so much as
told me about it till I was an adult. The nature of God's economy is of
course that it works equally well to offer one's worship for something
and then to proceed with one's mind on the worship and never think another
thing about it; as it does to offer both the attention *and* the prayers
for a particular person or event. Sometimes where there is a deeply important
situation one can dedicate the decade to the situation and use the individual
aves for particular people in that situation or even particular groups.
As a way of thinking through things it is very useful.
As the Rt. Revd Robert King said in
an address in 1945, 'What is your intention? This is the keynote of the
rosary. . . a rosary becomes a physical means, bear that in mind, a physical
means of concentration. "
Now I frequently use the Ave - and the
Salve Regina when I am doing something physical that does not require a
great deal of thought. When I am watering the garden for example. There
the spirit of the words settles me to stand in one place and begins to
show me what I am looking at. The prayer begins to open me to the beauty
of the created world, and to thoughts of gentleness and calm. This lifetime
habit has lead to some interesting experiences. One day while we were travelling
down a long long hill a large fast car roared toward us up the hill on
our side of the road. So far as I knew all I did was to take evasive action,
but because of the grade of the incline, and the cliff nearby I was severely
frightened. We landed at the bottom of the hill in perfect safety but faceing
the wrong way. I drove to the correct side of the road and turned off the
ignitian. My companion said quietly, "did you know you said six Hail Marys
while we were coming down that hill ? "
No, I hadn't. and it seems to me as I
look back that was graced at that moment to use the panicking part of myself
saying the words and therefore out of the way of the mind and body that
had to set about its business. Obviously that was no moment to roll one's
eyes up in ones head and have a moment's prayer. Even an arrow prayer was
not to be thought of.
What we touch engages our attention and
helps us give time and love to something we might not necessarily think
about for long. It is too easy to say "I must pray for Joe' and then immediately
do something quite different. Or to say "Dear Lord, look after Mary' and
leave our participation at that. Now of course there are quite ordinary
christians who will quietly give up a meal as an offering for someone or
something else. Even others who will devote quite large parts of their
life - their pain in a long illness for example - for God to use, whether
in a particular way or even better, in any way he chooses.