Joseph Lisowski

Redemptorist Fathers
Liguori, Missouri 63057
Father Lisowski, the author of this booklet, studied psychology for many years. During and after World War II he noted with pleasure the enormous help the Rosary imparted to the suffering people of Poland. He decided he could help others by making and recording an extensive experiment on the psychology of the Rosary.

The Russian occupation of Poland made it impossible for him to have his writings published in Poland, and so not long ago he turned a temporary visa into a permanent defection and came to the United States to live.

Since his skill in our language is limited, he asked me to edit his manuscript for him. This I have gladly done. I have every confidence that Our Lady's Rosary will continue to prosper despite doubts and opposition. May this work hasten the day when doubts about it will be forgotten.

Rev. T. N. Jorgensen, S.J.
Imprimi Potest:
Raymond Schmitt, CSS.R.
Provincial, S t. Louis Province
Redemptorist Fathers
April 11, 1969
St. Louis, April 13, 1969
+ John J. Carberry
Archbishop of St. Louis
Published by Liguorian Pamphlets & Books
Fourth Printing / February 1975
Printed in U.S.A.


The prophet Jeremiah records how God reproves the people of Juda because the adversities which He sends to correct them are having no effect. "The whole land is made desolate, but no man lays it to heart" (Jer. 12:11). This final warning proves futile; Jerusalem is destroyed and the people of God are taken captive by the Babylonians because they refused to meditate, "to ponder in their hearts" the message of God.

Jeremiah might readily see the dangers and conflicts of our own day, coming from the same cause, and the divine warnings being ignored with the same rashness. A decidedly materialistic outlook on life leads many to forget their trust in God, their fidelity to His loving laws. This attitude leads to disaster and despair. A change of heart is vitally needed before we can use our scientific and technical progress for the good of all men instead of for the wealth and power of a few.

We know that the Creator's remedy for our problems is brought to us through Christ and His Church. But to be fruitful the teachings of Christ must be truly understood, and this understanding comes only through prayerful meditation. And yet, as in the day of Jeremiah, no one meditates.

The Church offers many ways to overcome the grave obstacles to meditation, and the Rosary is still one of the most effective. The following pages seek to show that a true understanding of the Rosary and an intelligent use of it will bring about the power of meditation and the change of heart which our age so desperately needs.

To show that the Rosary is psychologically sound and capable of leading today's people to profitable meditation on the truths of redemption, I prepared a careful experiment following all the guidelines of modern psychology.


First I gathered together a preliminary group of six men and six women between the ages of 18 and 30. They all understood psychological terms and instructions. My first task was to convince them that their Rosary prayer could be studied psychologically. Prayer, although a supernatural activity in part, is also natural in part. The supernatural does not destroy the natural. It needs and uses the human body and mind in prayer's contact between God and man.

The next step was to give them some explanation of the mysteries and to tell them how I wished them to proceed and how to record a self-examination of the success of their prayers. This pilot project was successful, for their answers helped me to prepare the questions and instructions for the larger group which carried on the main experiment.


This second group had 200 participants ranging in age from 17 to 50. There were 80 students from the Great Seminary of Gorzow, Poland; 30 students from the University of Wroclaw, Poland; 20 nuns; 15 school teachers, 10 priests; 5 medical general practitioners; and 40 others from various walks of life and of varying degrees of education.

Whether I talked to them individually or in groups I gave all 200 the same instructions. First I explained the previous experiment and the reason for the method and the way I wished their recordings made. The next step was to convince them of the value of the Rosary and of this experiment. Then I explained that with each mystery said they were to guide their meditation by asking these three questions:
1) Who are the principal persons concerned in the mystery?
2) Why do these persons speak and act as they do?
3) What can this event teach me?

Then I gave them 12 questions to answer after they had said the Rosary. These questions served as general guidelines to help them reveal the problems, failures and successes they had in their Rosary meditation efforts. They were urged to add anything more that they thought would be helpful to others trying to evaluate the Rosary.

We had several hours of group discussions and questions about such things as how closely they should follow the three questions when saying the Rosary. I insisted that the more faithful they were to following the questions the more valuable the experiment would be. I asked the participants not to discuss their findings until they had written their final copy, lest they influence the answers of others. They were urged to write with complete freedom. They could write their answers immediately after finishing the decade or Rosary, or after prolonged reflection. They could write their remarks all at once or in installments. They could rewrite, make additions or deletions as they wished, always seeking to give the clearest possible picture of the psychological process they had experienced in their efforts to concentrate fruitfully on the mysteries. They were asked to repeat their experiment as many times as they wished and to write the report (or parts of it) after any of the efforts. No time limit was set for the return of the reports so that they would not feel rushed.


When all felt that they had no further difficulties and knew how to answer the questions, I gave each of them a written explanation of each mystery. Some knew the mysteries well before the experiment began. But others did not, and I wanted to be sure that all had at least enough understanding of each mystery to know the chief virtue or help it was to bring us in God's plan for our growth in grace. I gave them a description of all 15 mysteries, but here I will record only the notes on the joyful mysteries. (Readers of this booklet can readily gather similar thoughts on the sorrowful and glorious mysteries from other books.)


The Archangel Gabriel, who six months before had brought a message to the priest Zachary while he was in the Temple, now comes to this young maiden in Galilee in her private home to bring an even greater message.

WHO? Gabriel, one of the seven who stand before the throne of Go; Mary, a humble maiden unknown to the world but full of grace. Sent by God. God, neglected by mankind in general, is served by Mary and the faithful few of the "remnant" of Israel.

WHY? Because of Mary's fullness of grace the time is ripe for the fulfillment of the divine promise given in Genesis 3:15 and renewed in various ways to Abel, Noah, Melchisedech, Abraham, Moses, David and the prophets. The Messiah comes to conquer sin and Satan and to save all men who join in Mary's yes and accept Christ and His message.

WHAT can this event teach me? God does all this for me. Mary joins Him for her own salvation and to give us an example of how God's love blesses those who say yes to His call. What can I do but join in God's glorious plan and help save myself and others by joining my yes to Mary's?


Mary hastens to visit Elizabeth. At Mary's greeting, John the Baptist is sanctified by Christ, and Elizabeth and Mary are inspired by the Holy Spirit to sing their joyful songs of praise.

WHO? The aged wife of Zachary about to give birth to the greatest prophet of the Old Law, and the youthful Mary about to give birth to the eternal Son of the Father in His human nature. The Holy Spirit guiding both women and their sons.

WHY? Mary, alert to the inspirations of the Holy Spirit, knows that Gabriel's words about Elizabeth are an invitation to visit her cousin. From Mary's viewpoint this may have been only a corporal work of mercy, but in God's plan it secured the spiritual work of mercy-the sanctification of John. God has become Mary's Son and is subject to her activity, works with and through her.

WHAT can this event teach me? That I should ever strive to be docile to the inspirations that come from God. That I can readily look upon the whole world as a hospital or school or home with countless opportunities to visit the sick, instruct the ignorant, guide the faltering and fulfill all the corporal works of mercy knowing that God will thus lead me to perform the spiritual works of mercy.


The stable at Bethlehem, familiar to all.

WHO? The Infant, Mary, Joseph; later the shepherds and Magi.

WHY? To save the world God becomes an infant, reminding us that humility is our first step in gaining grace. Not through great armies or startling wisdom or overpowering wealth, but through the humblest of means He guides us to our salvation. Violence begets violence and he who takes the sword will perish by the sword. But a mild answer turns aside wrath, and a helpless baby prompts a normally decent person to bless and help. Not all can be wise, wealthy, powerful; but all can be humble, patient, eager to serve, and therefore can join fully in the great work of salvation.

WHAT can this event teach me? I should have utmost confidence. Mankind can be saved; and everyone, no matter how weak and helpless he seems, can play as big a part in this salvation as he wishes-a part limited only by his pride, sin and selfishness. Surely the example of Christ, Mary, Joseph, the shepherds and the Magi should urge me to overcome my doubts and selfishness, and join them in their glorious work of bringing peace to earth and glory to God.


Mary and Joseph bring Jesus to the Temple and present Him to God in accordance with the law of the first-born male. They ransom Him temporarily with two turtle doves.

WHO? The Holy Family, Christ, His mother and her husband.

WHY? The Word was made flesh that He might die to save us. All effective sacrifices before this time-and especially the great sacrifice of the Passover-prefigured and prepared for Christ's sacrifice, which was promised at the presentation and fulfilled on Calvary.

WHAT can this event teach me? God loves me enough to assume my nature and to die for me! This should lead me to the heights of gratitude and love. The Word became Mary's Son so that Joseph and Mary could offer Him to the Father for us. We consecrate ourselves to Mary that she may offer us together with Christ for the salvation of all men. This consecration joins naturally with our private morning offering and our public offering at Mass.


Mary and Joseph find the "lost" Jesus in the Temple where He is amazing the Doctors of the Law by His wisdom.

WHO? Jesus, who lets His parents suffer thus to increase their spiritual growth as well as ours. Mary and Joseph who are most unhappy when they lose the loving presence of Jesus. The doctors who receive this special manifestation of the wisdom of the Incarnate Word.

WHY? That Mary and Joseph may share in Christ's redemptive sufferings. That they may learn that the business of the heavenly Father comes before all else, even before the closest and holiest of family ties. That all may learn that the one thing necessary is the will of the Father, the fulfillment of the eternal plan.

WHAT can this event teach me? The Temple of the fourth and fifth joyful mysteries should remind me of that which it prefigured-the Christian Church, where the perfect sacrifice of the Mass is constantly offered and where the Word abides in the Eucharist to hear and answer the prayers of all who come to visit Him.


All those making the experiment understood that prayer requires a certain amount of effort and that it is work in this sense. But when one works proficiently there is a sense of accomplishment. Work thus becomes a joy rather than a burden. This is particularly true of prayer, which should be a time of spiritual refreshment arising from our enjoyment of God's loving and helpful presence. For the saints this is often true; but beginners, as in everything, usually have a struggle on their hands. But the more clearly one pictures his goal; the more eagerly he desires it; and the more confidently he seeks to attain it, the greater will be his enthusiasm in facing the original difficulties.

It is in this hopeful spirit that one should read the description of the mystery and then start saying the vocal prayers. He should trust in God's help to guide him to the thoughts which God planned that mystery to arouse in all who study it prayerfully and perseveringly.

Here are the questions which I asked them to answer after saying the Rosary:

1. Did you follow the instructions to the end? If so, which part of the instructions was hardest to follow?

2. What kind of difficulty did you experience in following the instructions? Was combining a vocal with a mental prayer a major difficulty, or did the vocal prayer guide you naturally into the meditation?

3. How often during each decade did you recall the points of the meditation which you had read before starting your prayer?

4. Did the saying of the Rosary result in any decision or resolution?

5. Did you have frequent distractions? If so, how did you try to get rid of them?

6. Did the three questions "Who? Why? What?" arouse your mind to an active interest in the Rosary mysteries?

7. How did you try to make your Rosary more successful?

8. How much and with what results did your personal hopes and problems influence the success of your rosaries?

9. Were you convinced of the value of the Rosary? If you were tempted to think that saying the Rosary was useless, how did you overcome this temptation?

10. Did the three questions help you to overcome distractions?

11. What helped you to deepen your interest in the Rosary?

12. After repeated use had dulled your new insight on the mysteries, what difficulty did you have in creating new mental associations of your own?

Some of the questions overlap deliberately in order to approach a problem from different angles and to verify one answer by another. Sometimes the participants just referred to a previous answer instead of repeating their words; most of them supplemented their first answer by additional statements.


The answers to the questions proposed to my experimental group proved quite interesting. This chapter consists of a psychological analysis of those answers.

1. Did you follow the instructions to the end; if so, which part of the instructions was hardest to follow?

It was evident that those least practiced in mental prayer had the most difficulty. They showed the greatest need for abundant meditation material and for a more precise method of proceeding.

The answers revealed that the 200 participants were divided into five groups.

Sixty were able to follow the questions through. Here is a typical answer from this group:

I followed the indicated order. Although I have said the Rosary for many years, I must confess that never before was it so easy to say as it was during this experiment. Often before in saying it I felt bored and didn't know what to think about. Now my mind was so filled with thoughts that I was tempted to prolong the Rosary.

This was the most successful group. Although already devoted to the Rosary, they found that the questions gave them a new enthusiasm. Their answers showed that they were thinking fruitfully of the Redemptive Act. They had the contact with God which prayer should bring, and they finished the Rosary by making concrete resolutions to live a life more fully in harmony with God's will. The "What" question, in particular, naturally made them reflect upon themselves in God's presence, and to ask His help in solving their difficulties.

The following quotation contains typical statements of the 30 who spent most of their time on the "Who" question.

For the longest time I was held by the question "Who." I was moved deeply, realizing more than ever before the sacrifice, the humility, the love God revealed in becoming man for us . . . I tried to observe the order, but the question "Who" held my attention more than any other. So many reflections followed this point that I had no time to pass on to the others.

Twenty spent most of their time on the "Why" question. The following quotations are typical of their reactions:

I spent most time in considering the question "Why." Contrasting the goodness of God and of the Virgin Mary with my own lack of understanding and response brought me a deep feeling of humility. This was especially true when meditating on the sorrowful mysteries . . . I spent the longest time on the question "Why," for it brought me the deepest feelings of gratitude and love . . . In recent years I have lost many members of my family. The question "Why," by reminding me of the deep love of God and Mary for me, brought me deep consolation.

The fourth group of 50 can be exemplified by these quotations:

I spent most time on the question "What." I considered mainly what I could do for God who has done and is doing so much for me . . . It was my best examination of conscience for a year . . . It reminded me of how often I've been ungrateful to God and to Mary for their great sacrifices for me . . . For some time I had lacked the courage to make a serious examination of conscience. During the Rosary, I found the grace to face some troubling questions honestly; and this has helped me to have a better attitude toward religion.

Forty failed to follow the method suggested. Since they can be of no help in this discussion, I will draw some general conclusions about the l 60 who did manage to follow the suggested method.

Their answers convinced me that Thomas Merton was wrong when he wrote in his "Life and Holiness" that our society has lost the spirit of Christianity. Certainly my group had, beneath its secular shell, a strong desire to live a truly Christian life. Instead of complaining about the loss of a Christian outlook, we should seek to revive and nourish it. The Rosary, said meditatively, revitalized the spiritual life of the participants. The method of the three points gave them a form elastic enough to allow their own approach, and yet precise enough to help them to concentrate on the mysteries.

However, the various temperaments of the group revealed a need for a variety of approaches. There is a reaI need for modern books explaining the inexhaustible treasures of the 15 mysteries of the Rosary. Meditations on these mysteries written in previous centuries may be outdated; but the words and example of Christ will always furnish the best answer to man's problems. Man's modern desire for liberty of spirit; his freedom to develop and use his talents as God wills; his search for a deeper understanding and expression of his personality: these can never find a better model than the life and work of the God-Man Christ. To think the Rosary is dated shows a lack of understanding of its power to reveal Christ to us as One to be imitated. This attitude could come only from one who has never tried seriously to master its technique.

2. What kind of difficulty did you experience in following the instructions- Was combining a vocal with a mental prayer a major difficulty, or did the vocal prayer guide you naturally into the meditation?

Nearly 85 percent mentioned some difficulty in combining the words with the meditations. How unavoidable and how permanent this difficulty will be is a prime question in considering the value of the Rosary. Are the vocal prayers and the meditations of such a nature that the difficulty is inherent in them rather than in the training of the person? If so, the Rosary would hardly be a valuable prayer. Before showing how naturally the two can be combined; how, indeed, the vocal prayers are the easiest possible way of leading the average person into the habit of meditation, let us first look at a few of the statements which touch upon the problem. The words of the prayers seemed to disrupt my meditation. Finally I simply forgot about the words. I said them, but my attention was on the meditation . . . I have experienced great difficulty because the words of the prayer did not coincide with the content of the meditation. Finally I was only partly conscious of the vocal recitation . . . I didn't pay much attention to the words, but I was faintly conscious of their rhythm and beauty and that they filled out the empty moments of my meditation . . . The "Holy Mary Mother of God pray for us" words became so united to my meditation that when I came to the end of the prayer, the meditation automatically stopped too.

That many felt they should try to center their attention simultaneously on the words of the prayers as well as the meditations showed that they had never had adequate instruction on how to say the Rosary. But even these, while struggling against the right method, soon began making the meditation the center of their attention. Thus, the words of the prayers formed a favorable background, much like the musical background which constantly heightens the effects of a drama. If they had been previously taught that the vocal prayers were meant to set the mood and then recede to the subconscious, letting the meditation take over the center of their attention, they would have found their task much easier. The great psychological value of the Rosary lies precisely in this fact: in the beginning vocal prayers capture the center of attention, but gradually fade to the fringe of it as the thoughts of the mystery take over. Then they form a protective wall on the outskirts of the attention to protect the mind from distracting thoughts.

It is easier to start a vocal prayer than a meditation. A child wouldn't know what you were talking about if you said, "Make a meditation for a few minutes on the Incarnation." But he would understand and be able to follow your instructions if you said, "Kneel before the crib for a few minutes looking at Mary and Jesus while you say the Hail Mary." That would sound simple to him, and it might very readily give him a start toward true contemplation.

The Rosary has this approach. The 10 Hail Marys of the first joyful mystery remind us to look on for a minute or two while the Angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she has been chosen to be the Mother of the Savior. This implies that we know something about the mystery; and for beginners it is a good idea to have a picture of the scene with a few lines from Scripture describing it. Reading, especially scriptural reading, about the mysteries will soon give one enough material to make meditation on them possible and easy.

The word "easy" of course is to be understood as "comparatively easy." For meditation is not an easy or natural thing in itself for people of today. Since so much stress is placed on material things in modern life, we need meditation upon spiritual things more than we ever did before. So "easy" doesn't mean without effort or practice; but it does mean that this method makes the art of meditation easier to learn than other methods.

Vocal prayer is a kind of scaffold which structures our prayer. It keeps us aware that we are in the presence of our Queen and should not step thoughtlessly aside. The association of ideas-the prayers, the mere taking out and counting of the beads-puts us into the mood to meditate on the mysteries which we have often done before while holding and counting these same beads.

3. How often during each decade did you recall the points of the meditation which you had read before starting your prayer?

Naturally there were many answers to this question, for the human mind can consider with lightning speed the past, present and future. This agility, while the basis for meditation, is also the source of difficulties in prayer. The mystic has learned with the help of abundant graces and long practice to direct his thoughts in a uniform flow toward God and His plans. Not so the average man; he needs the constant support which explanations of the mysteries can give. Here are some remarks of the group on this point:

At times my needs or my thoughts of sorrow for sin kept my attention on the mystery; on other occasions the questions brought my attention back to the content of the meditation . . . I returned again and again to the main theme of the meditation. The words "Thy will be done" formed an accompaniment to all my thoughts. Soon the words began to stay in my mind even after the Rosary was finished and guided me through the day to a better fulfillment of my duties. I helped this growth by a deliberate effort of the will and by reading about the loving Providence of God. Both the meditations and the reading helped me change from a constant complainer to a resigned-even happy-follower of Christ.

Another one who was given special help by the Rosary put his experience in these words:

The Rosary was new to me. I agreed to read the points and try to say it, but in secret so that no one would think I was pious. Then one day everything went wrong and I felt especially bitter. I chanced to think of the Rosary and, willing to do anything to get rid of my depression, I decided to try it in the indicated way. The question "Who" made me realize that God himself was interested in me. My composure began to return. I had been showing off before others, trying to please and flatter everybody. In return they ignored me or imposed upon me. How different my relations with God. I had ignored Him but He was constantly helping me, still showing the great love which caused Him to die for me. This was the first step in making the Rosary my friend. On subsequent days I returned to it again and again, seeking and habitually finding an atmosphere of peace. Frequently now, while saying it, I feel as if led by an invisible hand soothing my hot temper, guiding me into a way of life worth living.

For the person just quoted, the Rosary soothed his frazzled nerves. Others wrote that they had to be in a calm frame of mind before they could turn to the Rosary successfully. But all agreed that the questions were a help both for getting a start in making the meditation and then for returning to it when distractions led them astray.

Some prayed the Rosary without any set purpose; others used it to help them conquer some problem of the moment. This latter way is a better psychological approach, for efforts directed toward an immediate and strongly desired goal are more fruitful. The more fully and closely we can identify the mysteries with our own daily problems, the easier it will be to avoid distractions and to have interesting meditations which lead to practical resolutions.

But besides our own strictly personal goals we should remember that as members of the Mystical Body, the needs of the Universal Church are our concern. To offer a decade for world peace in answer to Pope Paul's urgent plea will help us to understand the value of the Rosary. It will remind us that whenever we pray we are not alone. We are joining millions of others who also are meditating upon the example of Christ and Mary and seeking to follow them.

Through prayer we unite ourselves more fully with the omnipresent God and can gain His help for all who need it. Knowing, through faith and sometimes through experience, how potent our prayer may be will encourage us to persevere in it. True prayer lets us share in God's great power for the salvation of souls. No earthly ruler wields power equal to that of the person who prays the Rosary well.

Before beginning the Rosary it sometimes helps to ask ourselves what we are going to say to our Savior and His Mother-in much the same way that we prepare for a conversation or interview with an earthly celebrity. It is true that God has infinite power and dignity, and Mary is the most exalted of all human persons. But our approach is more personal if we remember their love, and approach God as our loving eternal Father and Mary as our loving spiritual Mother.

4. Did saying the Rosary result in any decision or resolution?

The effect of a Rosary well said will ordinarily be a concrete resolution. Such was the premise of our experiment, and so it was understood by the participants. If one only adopts the attitude of the adoring angels saying "Holy, holy, holy Lord," or an attitude of thanksgiving, even these will result in resolutions to adore or to thank God more frequently and fervently in the future. Here are some quotes from the answers to the fourth question:

At first I was inclined to make a resolution with each decade, but soon I found that too many resolutions were impractical. I think it is better to stick with one resolution. But it may be a broad resolution covering many things, e.g. to be charitable to all in imitation of the great charity of Jesus . . . I would make one general resolution and then try to relate it to each mystery of the Rosary . . . My most common resolution was to pray better; for despite the help given by the questions and the mysteries, I still find distractions so frequent that often I finish disgusted with myself for praying so poorly.

It is evident that the result of the Rosary should not be many resolutions which will be poorly kept, but one good practical one which can be well kept. The habit of making and breaking resolutions lightly weakens the will. This lack of a strong will is a result of our habits of self-indulgence. Witness those who say they can "take it or leave it" in regard to strong drink, but who really can't leave it; or those who wish they could give up smoking but are too weak-willed to do so. To habitually say the Rosary well results in many good resolutions. If these are well made and well kept they will remind us of how much we depend upon God's grace to strengthen our wavering human will.

We should ask ourselves, "What resolutions can I prudently choose and hope to keep, and which ones will be most effective in making me a better person before God and man?" Some of the participants resolved to practice more patience. Others sought to increase their sense of responsibility, or- to increase their charity or faith. Several resolved to read a spiritual book at least once a week, a resolution which if kept would be a big help to their Rosary as well as to their whole spiritual life. How many wasted lives could be saved by the habitual and thoughtful saying of the Rosary, resulting in a few obvious resolutions springing from gratitude to Jesus and Mary and from an effort to join them in their work of saving souls!

5. Did you have frequent distractions? If so, how did you try to get rid of them?

Psychology teaches that our subconscious constantly influences our conscious activity. Psychoanalysis seeks to find answers to known disturbances and tries to locate their causes by probing into the subcon- scious. These two sciences can help us immensely in our effort to overcome distractions. Here are some remarks of the participants on this question:

At the beginning distractions were frequent, but when I became interested in the meditation they vanished . . . I tried to overcome distractions by speaking directly to Jesus Christ or to Mary. This helped me to come back to the theme of the meditation... Distractions centering around the happenings of the day sometimes assailed me with irresistible force. All I could do was to express my sorrow and try to make some connection between them and my prayer . . . My worst distractions came when I was tired, or nervous, or very busy.

As these reports show, no one is free from distractions. Once we put other occupations aside to concentrate on prayer, countless thoughts emerge from our subconscious. It is impossible to repel these directly, for to say "I will not think of this task or person" merely brings that task or person directly into our thoughts. One can only pray for help and try to find some interesting thought to replace the distractions. Many found that by turning to the questions or by reading the points of the meditation again they dispelled the distractions at least temporarily and gave themselves a new start. If nothing else works one can try the advice given by Richard Graf in his book The Power of Praver: "One way of combating distractions is to make them the subject of prayer. I take the absorbing thought that distracts me from God and I make it the topic of my conversation with Him, so that what was a distraction for me now becomes a link binding me to God."

6. Did the three questions "Who, Why, What" arouse your mind to an active interest in the Rosary mysteries?

There may be many reasons for a lack of interest in the mysteries, although in themselves they are the most interesting events in the world for those who understand them with a living faith. Before examining the answers to this question let us look at five reasons for this lack of interest:

I. Lack of depth and long-range planning of one's goals.

In today's world our rapidly increasing fund of knowledge demands careful preparation. Great ideas and ideals take permanent root slowly. Lasting goals are not attained overnight. But the tempo of our times makes it particularly hard for the young to prepare themselves for modern living. They acquire vast knowledge early in life, but they are not mature enough at the moment to digest it properly.

It is so tempting for the young to become wrapped up in the superficialities of life. One can easily fritter away his youth on trivialities and find himself middle-aged or old with nothing to show for it. No lasting goal sought; no worthwhile goal attained.

But Rosary meditation can change all this. If one prays it correctly. its mysteries will bring an ever-deepening vision, an ever-growing abundance of grace, an ever-stronger character and personality, an ever-success in bringing real help to the world.

It brings us into intimate contact with Christ and His plans. The inspiring words of the Our Father, "Thy kingdom come," gradually become more meaningful as a result of praying the Rosary daily. When one begins to understand the Person and the mission and the love of our Savior, he grows enthusiastic about joining Him in His work for the kingdom. The world-wide interest in the Second Vatican Council showed that in this age, as in every age, there is a latent desire for God and for religion. The Rosary by presenting the highest ideals of the Christian faith will foster the growth of this valuable seed.

II. Routine.

This comes from using the same method without any modification until it becomes dull through monotony. New ideas and fine ideals soon gather the dust of familiarity and grow dull unless they are dusted off from time to time.

Familiarity can breed contempt. The young doctor and young nurse moved to ardent action by the sight of human misery can soon grow callous and slow to help unless they fight off the deadening effects of routine. Fortunately they have help in their fight, for the sameness of the diseases they treat is counterbalanced by the difference in the personalities of the ones afflicted.

But how can one fight routine in religion? A child making his first confession or receiving his First Communion is a picture of devotion. But after he repeats these same actions for a number of years, it is not quite the same any more. So too, the years may dim the strong Christian love of the young priest or nun. Yet a living and active faith can overcome the effects of repetition in all these cases. Here the questions and the meditations on the mysteries give us the help we need. New insights into the depths of the Divine Wisdom and Love manifested in the Paschal Mystery can keep our interest in the Rosary alive for a lifetime. And the Holy Spirit will give us these new insights continually if we seek them through reading and meditation and Christian living.

III. The "I-know-it-all" complex.

Some seem to think that the first few things learned about the mysteries are all they have to know! This error is one to which young people of today are especially subject. They receive a deluge of information from many sources, a smattering of knowledge about countless phases of life, are introduced to complicated sociological questions or deep philosophical ones before being mature enough to understand the depth of any of them. "A little knowledge is a dangerous thing" is proved over and over again when immature youths just out of college or even high school think they know all the answers just because they've heard some of the questions.

This over-estimation of his own knowledge is evident in the youth who thinks his high school or college studies in religion will carry him through life. He neglects serious prayer for divine guidance because he has developed a kind of conceit which makes him think he is self- He may even have a tendency to question the divinely appointed guardians of the faith-his bishop or pope-blindly thinking he knows more about God's way of running the world today than God's ambassadors do. Such a one, of course, lacks the humility to say the Rosary well; or to say any prayer well for that matter. "God gives His grace to the humble and resists the proud." (James 4:6 and Proverbs 3:34.) This saying, repeated in both the Old and New Testament, should cause consternation in the hearts of many who are drifting blindly away from God and their faith.

But the humble man, who knows that he constantly needs God's help, will welcome the chance to discover the will of God through his daily meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary. Trying to master the meaning of the mysteries will quickly bring many questions which will drive out of his soul that enervating "I-know-it-all" conceit.

IV. Movies, radio and television.

Movies and television present life to their viewers in a form which asks for little mental activity. Sitting passively by the hour just watching pictures is bound to have a deadening effect. The mind, like the body, needs exercise to grow. It is inevitable that the mind and body and will must suffer from countless hours of inactivity. The young in particular need physical activity for bodily growth, and they must strive personally to develop their wills and creative imagination. Sports and different types of recreation can give these; usually, television and movies do not. Old as well as young people lose much by spending most of their leisure time at movies or with radio or television. The Rosary can remove in part some of these dangers. It offers the opportunity for individual thinking, planning, reviewing and studying God and self.

V. Boredom.

We start the pursuit of new goals with fresh interest. Our interest dies if the goal is so slight that it is gained without effort or if it is so difficult that we have no hope of gaining it at all. But the Rosary falls into neither of these two categories. It will never expose us to the dissatisfaction that is ours even after we have plumbed the depths of an experience. The mysteries of the Rosary will constantly give us new insights into God and ourselves; each revelation will show us more and greater things to come. Spiritual activities are too great and our powers and destiny too glorious for us to discover their fullness even with a lifetime of effort. God's beauty and love and providential care of our spiritual growth will lead us on to ever-new discoveries.

Now let us read some of the remarks of the participants on the original question.

The three questions helped me to overcome my mental laziness. I felt obliged to do something. I knew it would not be enough just to read the meditation and recite the prayers orally. I wanted to find out what God wanted me to understand of the mystery and to let this new knowledge guide me in making useful resolutions. I found the question "Why" particularly aroused my mental powers and stimulated my will power . . . Before I started this experiment I had found the Rosary uninspiring. Now it seemed to come to life. The question "Who" moved me most. I regretted that I had hitherto responded so little to the great sufferings which Jesus undertook for me . . . I am a rather slow thinker, but the questions helped my meditation go along well. I saw in imagination the scenes of the mysteries, and this brought some truly worthwhile reflections.

The answers reveal that the mysteries when contemplated through the use of our three questions made the Rosary more interesting for practically all of the participants.

7. How did you try to make your Rosary more successful?

Humanly speaking, our success in prayer may be dependent upon many things-our state of mind, will, health, or our reaction to the current problems consciously or subconsciously pressing upon us. Of course our prayer depends first of all on God's help, but God gives this abundantly the more earnestly we work for it. Chapter nine of St. John's Gospel tells the story of how grace and effort work together. The man born blind is healed by Christ. At first he recognized his healer only as a man; then he recognized Him as Jesus; then as a prophet; and finally as the Son of God. Jesus and the man worked together at each step to bring about this final result. In prayer we do not work alone; God's powerful help is available if we but ask for it and do our part. Here are some of the participants' remarks in response to this question:

I completed all my other tasks so as to be entirely free for the Rosary. I stood before God humbly admitting my weaknesses. My mood of helplessness and guilt melted naturally and gradually into one of great gratitude to God for His sufferings and goodness . . . Thinking about the answers to the questions, I resolved to do something. I know that I am weak-willed, and naturally I prayed to God for strength to fulfill my good resolutions. Each resolution brought me new enthusiasm . . . My effort to answer the three questions brought me into a personal communication with Christ and Mary. I prayed for strong faith, hope and love. This kind of dialogue intensified my prayer, and made me feel that I had truly entered into the world of the spirit . . . Following the questions I tried to realize with whom I was conversing. The abiding consciousness of the presence of God and of the Blessed Virgin influenced deeply the sincerity of my prayer.

All 200 participants answered this seventh question. The great majority-140 found most help coming from their efforts to answer the three questions; 30 were helped by the stimulus of some particular personal desire of the time; 20 were helped by their prayers for others; 10 were helped by resorting at times to an imaginary dialogue with the persons whose lives were considered in the mysteries.

Those pressed for time found their hurry was most harmful to the Rosary. One can't meditate in a rush, and the world seems to be in a great rush today. Liturgical functions are being shortened to save time, but one wonders if the time so saved is being put to better use. Cutting the time spent in liturgical prayers to the very minimum reduces the chances of experiencing the loving presence of God. Perhaps a leisurely saying of the Rosary may undo some of this harm. It may give us a chance to withdraw for a quarter of an hour from the materialistic pursuits of the day to consider with prayerful understanding the far more valuable and enduring spiritual activity around us as God's Plan for the salvation of man unfolds.

If a football or basketball game is cut off a few minutes early how the audience complains! If only a few seconds are stolen from his TV commercial how the sponsor shouts! Yet time spent in worldly activities is not more important or fruitful than time spent in prayer. Despite their very important work, we know that Christ and the great saints never begrudged or sought to shorten the hours they spent in prayer. Actually these hours of prayer brought them peace and enlightenment and strength to spend their active hours successfully. The Rosary can bring us abundant graces; it can prepare us to take a more successful part in the life and liturgy of the Church.

8. How much and with what results did your personal hopes and problems influence the success of your rosaries?

Christ tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. He knows that when we truly love God in ourselves we will begin to love God in others. In fact this social expansion of our interest is the ordinary measure of growth in maturity. In saying the Rosary, therefore, as in other pursuits, we succeed by considering our own development and then relating it to the welfare of all.- Consider some of the answers of the participants: In saying the Rosary I seemed to enter a new world, to see myself as in a mirror . . . I opened my soul to God. Finding both weakness and sin there, I asked forgiveness and help . . . Looking at Christ's patient sufferings, I began to feel less the injustices I thought I endured. I had been indulging in self-pity, but the Rosary brought me balance and peace of mind. My sufferings seem small compared to Christ's, yet when they are united to Christ's I know they will bring me a share of the reward He promised . . . I tried to see how the meditations were related to my own problems. I begged forgiveness of my sins; I prayed for help during the sickness of my family. The time passed quickly. Of course I knew that God knows all of my private miseries and needs; yet it helped me to present them personally to Him . . . With growing love for Christ and Mary I automatically began to recommend the needs of others to their help . . . I never imagined that the Rosary could be such an interesting prayer. Now I am convinced that with it I can be anywhere in spirit, helping all the members of the Communion of Saints.

These remarks reveal that the Rosary engages the whole person-his joys and his sorrows. It is truly his own personal prayer, an expression of his own personality. When one prays the Rosary, his spirit blends with the spirit of Christ. This in turn unites him with the members of the Communion of Saints. Christ and Mary are close to us; their concern for God's eternal plan for mankind becomes our concern; and soon we are helping and being helped by millions on earth while at the same time we are joined in spirit and prayer by the saints and angels in heaven.

The Rosary becomes a prayer book adaptable to all our moods. The mysteries guide but do not restrict. They point out the goal but leave the choice of means to each person. Thus begins a conversation with God carried on according to the choice and the need of the one saying the Rosary. All of these encouraging thoughts are not just conclusions arrived at without evidence; they are confirmed by the study of the answers of those who carried on this experiment successfully.

9. Were you convinced of the value of the Rosary? If you were tempted to think that saying the Rosary was useless, how did you overcome this temptation?

Many people have discovered through their own experience the usefulness of the Rosary. Ordinarily the first condition to pray it profitably is faith and confidence in its power. St. Mark's Gospel tells us that Jesus did not work many miracles in Nazareth because of the few people there who had faith. When people asked to be cured Jesus usually said, "If you believe, you can be cured." Just as faith in Christ was necessary before His power would flow forth to the needy, so faith in the Rosary is needed before one can say it with the attention and confidence that will tap its treasures.

It is equally fruitless to pray without belief in prayer, or to have belief in prayer and yet not pray. For an integrated personality and success in life our actions and our beliefs must harmonize. The Church has always taught that our beliefs and actions should not contradict each other. But the onslaughts of secularism have often separated man's fundamental beliefs from his daily actions. Often the eminent morality of the gospels and the noble teachings of the Church are accepted and admired on Sundays but forgotten during the week. Humility, charity, thoughtfulness of others are fine Christian principles, but in the world of business they are often forgotten. Social justice is a fundamental Christian teaching. But according to some, the priest must confine his remarks to generalities and not speak too clearly about injustices within his own city or parish.

Separation between our religious beliefs and our daily living has been increasing during the past centuries. Many artists today, instead of searching for God, the infinite Truth and Beauty and Goodness, practice art for art's sake only. And science, sociology and philosophy in many instances attempt to abandon God, His truths and His plans.

Vatican II seeks to combine our religious truths more intimately with daily life. The Church is doing all that it can to express its liturgy and teachings in a way most suited to modern man. It can't water down the teachings of Christ; it can't forget that winning heaven is a serious task. We can't overcome the effects of original sin without a determined and persevering struggle. Christ's words, "Take up your cross daily and follow Me," must be remembered at all times. We cannot expect prayer, the most universal means of growing in grace, to be successful without effort. But once we make that effort and use the modern means at our disposal, the Rosary will help us to make our Christian beliefs the guideline of our daily actions.

Many of the participants in the experiment told stories of special help given them by Mary in answer to their Rosary prayers. Foreign soldiers were overrunning Poland at the time, first in war and then in victory, and so many of the stories were dramatic:

During the war I was an ensign. My unit was one of the first to meet the enemy, with disastrous results. The few survivors tried to retreat to the Rumanian border. It seemed like a trip through hell. Hope gradually ebbed as we continued to fight and retreat, fight and retreat. Whenever I could find the opportunity I would gain solace by saying a few decades of the Rosary. Near the Romanian frontier we were surrounded by the Russian army coming west. There seemed no way out. Our officers made a valiant stand, but finally each one committed suicide. The shame of surrender was too much for them. For us ensigns the example of our officers became equivalent to a command to do likewise. Looking for one last cigarette before committing suicide, my hand found my Rosary. I felt ashamed of my despair and somehow managed to slip through the lines and escape. My gratitude for help obtained through the Rosary was and still is very great. I wish that many could read this confession and gain a true devotion to Mary through her Rosary.

One of the women participants in the experiment wrote: I had long been devoted to the Rosary, but the war greatly deepened this devotion. I lived in southeastern Poland and saw whole families being deported to Russia; those who remained were constantly subjected to the horrible cruelty of the Ukrainian guerrillas. In the neighboring village they attacked the rectory and murdered the Catholic priest. During the night I woke up trembling. The surrounding homes were in flames. Nearly out of my mind and not knowing what to do, I ran out of my house in my nightgown. Happily my Rosary, which always hung around my neck, seemed to offer me a sense of peace and courage. I found a thicket and hid in the middle of it quietly reciting my Rosary all the time. I felt that Mary was very near, giving me help and assurance. Somehow the looters and killers overlooked me.

There were many such stories; in fact, 50 of the participants had become strongly moved by graces obtained through Mary in response to praying the Rosary. Thirty had been drawn to it by the example of others. The biggest group, nearly 80, had devotion to the Rosary instilled into their hearts in childhood by loving parents. But this childhood habit had to pass the test of everyday adult living. Some grew lukewarm toward the Rosary but were brought back to their childhood faith in it by some tragic event or some special favor.

It is common among those devoted to Mary and the Rosary to feel a special hope and joy in belonging to the vast army of the children of Mary. The atheist administrators of Poland are amazed by the number and the zeal of those trusting in Mary. They call it servitude to a fellow human being, overlooking the fact that Mary is the pathway to God. Their remarks seem ridiculous in the face of their own servility to their far from saintly leaders.

10. Did the three questions help you to overcome distractions?

This question is similar to question. five, but it is expressed in a different form. Distractions in prayer may occur for many reasons. The participants understood distractions to mean aimless, involuntary thoughts unconnected with the mysteries. Voluntary thoughts alien to the Rosary prayer would not be considered distractions since the term is used in this question precisely because they were involuntary. Some quotes which show the effort to overcome distractions by the use of the questions follow:

The three questions forced me to think/ Through them I was urged to think about God and the obligation of conducting my prayer in an orderly way. If Jesus suffered so much for me, why should I not make this much sacrifice for Him? When I caught myself relapsing into distractions, I would read the points again. For a motto I took the scriptural text, "Watch and pray." This helped my effort at concentration . . . Thinking about the state of my soul in response to the questions and meditations gave me all the help I needed. There was no time for distractions . . . I had difficulty in keeping my attention on the subject of the prayer; distractions seemed to be the rule rather than the exception. Nevertheless the questions helped me to continue my effort and brought some success . . . I found that when I was tired my distractions were at their peak, but the questions refreshed my mind and spurred my will to pray . . . The three questions fascinated me. I became so absorbed in my thoughts that I forgot all about what was going on around me. For the first time I tasted the sweetness of contemplation.

The novelty of the method, the content of the meditations, and the psychological disposition with which they started their prayer were three reasons why 50 of the participants did not complain about distractions. This is very important, for it shows that the approach to the meditations was the correct one for them.

These meditations must awaken a true interest in the one praying if he hopes to close the door to distractions. The mind and the will must cooperate, with the mind taking the lead; for we can't will or desire what we don't know. The three questions start one thinking in a determined direction and spur the will to action. They arouse a personal interest in the meditations. These thoughts, being the result of personal interest and personal effort, become much more a part of one's life than thoughts gathered from reading a spiritual book.

These questions do not demand predetermined answers; they merely help one to find the answers which suit his mood and need of the moment. This is why the questions in themselves were sufficient for most of the participants to ward off distractions without the need of referring again to the meditations. Success in overcoming Rosary distractions has a salutary influence on other prayers. Psychology teaches that acquiring a skill in one field makes it easier to acquire another ability, especially in a very closely related field. Therefore gaining the power to concentrate well while praying the Rosary will increase one's powers of concentration while attending Mass. Lack of attention during liturgical exercises surely deprives a man of many treasures. The skill gained by well-said rosaries will help him to avoid this loss. In fact the three-method can be used effectively while participating in the Liturgy of the Word.

11. What helped you to deepen your interest in the Rosary?

Many things awaken our interest momentarily, but they have to be something special to keep our interest alive for a long period of time. Can the Rosary succeed in this? Let us read what the participants say. My first awakening of interest in the Rosary came from the Church's strong recommendation of it-that it was an excellent method of assuring the protection of the Blessed Virgin and her help in all of our needs. This interest was kept alive and reinforced by my observing that many of my friends said the Rosary habitually . . . My first interest in the Rosary came through spiritual reading. But I was saying the Rosary in a haphazard manner and was losing my interest when I started this experiment. Now I believe I have regained my interest . . . I've said the Rosary as long as I can remember. Reading spiritual books about Mary confirmed my attachment to the prayer. The Rosary has become so much a part of my life that I never forget to say it.

A study of the answers to this 11th question shows that 20 of the participants found an interest in the Rosary through the example of their friends, 30 through some personal experience, 30 through reading, 40 through deliberate practice, and 80 through the exhortations of the Church.

That nearly half of them came to know the Rosary and to have an active interest in it through the official recommendation of the Church is reassuring. Today the updating of the liturgy has caused some to be overly conscious of the human element in the Church. They seem to forget that the hierarchy is of divine institution and receives the full guidance of the Holy Spirit. Hence it is good to emphasize the wonderful help each individual gets through his humble trust in this divinely established authority. It is only by a filial devotion to the rulers of the Church that these new changes can be successfully put into practice. A renewed interest in the intelligent praying of the Rosary will bring a deeper love for, and obedience to, the Church.

About 40 of the participants acquired their interest in the Rosary by deliberate practice. First steps in any new effort often bring discouragement. But working with others helps to tide one over this difficult period. One must study, read, reflect until the mysteries of the Rosary have a deep personal significance for him; he must also practice patiently until he can make the vocal prayers as helpful to the thoughts of the mysteries as the musical background is to the movies he watches. Without this practice the Rosary will not have the full effect on his daily living that it can and should have. The method of the three questions used in this experiment naturally requires some practice.

Thirty of the participants thanked books for their acquired habit of saying the Rosary. But even these complained that in the books they read they could not find a fully explained method of saying the Rosary. The books spoke of the beauty of the devotion, but the readers had to find their own method of saying it. Many felt strongly the lack of specific instructions on how to say it. This lack of practical instruction in applying general principles may be the underlying reason why many Catholics are indifferent to many religious practices.

About 20 were drawn to devotion to the Rosary by example. Children are bound to be influenced by the habits of their parents or grandparents. Today many children abandon the leadership of their parents before they are prepared for the independence they seek. So, they need example more than ever now. Ordinarily, they will conform to their own age group. If others of their group are faithful to the practice of their faith, they will have a strong urge to be faithful too. If those whom they join live like pagans, they will be strongly impelled to follow suit.

Any youth who has had a normal training grows up with a strong idealism and religious spirit. If this is channeled and fostered before strong opposing desires take over, he will live his entire life according to God's will.

The Second Vatican Council strongly urges the laity to do its part in propagating the faith. Our experiment showed that many were led to say the Rosary by the example of others of their own group or class. Through their mutual effort and common goal they arrived at a more profitable praying of the Rosary.

The remaining 30 participants not accounted for came into touch with the Rosary through a variety of personal experiences, "accidental" or "providential" happenings.

12. After repeated use had dulled your new insight on the mysteries, what difficulty did you have in creating new mental associations of your own?

At first the novelty of the new method spurred the participants on, but naturally this novelty wore off in time. Growth in grace however is a lifetime effort. How then is one to overcome the natural lessening of interest which routine brings? Some felt this need much more quickly than others; some overcame it naturally and easily; others were unable to cope with it at all.

Sixty of the participants, after a little practice, began to create their own new ideas and associations-going beyond the explanations of the mysteries given them. These naturally gifted ones thus sustained their interest even beyond the point of their first letdown.

Another rather large group, nearly 50, lacked this creative facility but seemed to be content with a daily repetition of their former thoughts. In other words, even slight variations were sufficient to keep this group from finding repetition boring.

A third group of about 30 grew discontented but were unable without help to create new associations of their own, They lacked instruction in their faith and in the mysteries. But they had the interest and native ability to profit at once when further instruction was given. With this continued help they could succeed; without it presumably they would eventually give up a practice that was growing more and more dull and seemingly fruitless.

A group of about 40 seemed to find the first ideas still fruitful for the length of the experiment. But they differed from the second group above, in that they gave signs that this would not be a permanent state. This group would have to be on the alert to adopt new ideas when the first ones had grown dull.


The way we pray is an index to our personality. Our experiment proved this quite conclusively. From their verbal and written reports it was possible to classify all of the participants under one of the following three headings:

1. The intellectual and creative type (active intellect).

2. The extrovert, active type (active will).

3. The emotional type (active emotions). We should read the following to discover our own Rosary personality- to make use of this information for our own spiritual improvement.

The intellectual and creative. This type took the long view of the problem proposed to them. Then by analysis they found answers to the three questions which brought them a deeper understanding of the Rosary mysteries. This in turn kept them from being bothered much by distractions. The verbal recitation of the prayers receded quietly into the background with the center of attention engrossed in the study of the mystery and its meaning for their lives. Their success led them on to their own questions and answers and made them independent of the original helps which the experiment brought to them. This, of course, is the ideal way of saying the Rosary; but for the average person it is difficult to completely master this method. Still, even a partial success is profitable and well worth the effort.

Those who do succeed find that the Rosary improves their personality, molding them into true followers of Jesus and Mary. And just as it is easy to discern in a person some military, scientific, or priestly training, so it is often possible to recognize those whose spiritual life has been deepened by their faithful and fruitful saying of the Rosary. Let me quote a passage from one of this group, a girl who had been saying the Rosary daily for several years.

I am still young and socially inclined, yet it would be impossible for me to enjoy living the way many of my age group do. I like to talk with my boy friend, whether our conversations are light-hearted or serious; and I enjoy going to church with him and feel as we pray side by side that the bond between us grows stronger day by day. I am quite sure I would feel uncomfortable and out of place with him in the night clubs many of my age group frequent. Their nervous, restless seeking for more and more pleasures to crowd out all serious thoughts just doesn't appeal to me. Fortunately my boy friend has the same outlook on life and is content with the quieter, more enduring joys of life.

Has this girl found the answer to the modern problems of youth? Could the Rosary give them enough maturity and understanding of the value of their faith to make them settle down somewhat before they ruined their lives to a greater or less degree by a pagan pursuit of unlimited pleasures? The young generation is always seeking answers; the older generation should try harder to give them the Christian answers in an interesting and usable way. Some of them, at least, could find their answer through the Rosary.

The Rosary seeks to bring people to the point where they can meditate, can form conclusions and resolutions which will guide them personally to the goals which God has for each of them. The ones in this first gifted group were able to do this.

The extrovert, active group. A notable characteristic of this group is a certain deficiency in imagination and careful reasoning power. But they make up for this lack by their drive, by their stability in achieving their ends and by systematically keeping their good resolutions. These persons scrupulously follow their plan; they answer each of the three questions, but their attention is mainly concentrated on the one question, "What does this event teach me?" In answering this they make practical resolutions which they seek earnestly to follow.

For them the saying of the Rosary is only a first step; their goal is to accomplish something practical. They are dynamic characters. These are the people who constantly feel the need for action, for apostolic deeds. And they actually accomplish what they set out to do.

These extroverts in our experimental group gladly took over leadership in difficult times. They organized prayers and devotions in the concentration camps. They were ever ready to teach the Rosary to the poor or despairing. They passed on to others their own active devotion to the Rosary. Sometimes however, they were handicapped by their lack of a more profound knowledge of their subject. "What have I done for you, O Christ?" became their war cry. Since they were so busy doing new things, they did not become distracted by the dangers and difficulties of routine. Their enthusiasm was kept alive by constantly making and keeping new resolutions. They were, in brief, not so much interested in the content of the meditations as in the application of those contents to their active life.

It is evident that their devotion to the Rosary will be safe and flourishing as long as it continues to guide their actions. For them the Rosary was a direct help in overcoming temptations and solving the problems of their lives. But since they did not develop a deeper penetration of the mysteries on their own, their one need is to gain this knowledge through periodic retreats or frequent spiritual reading. Their chief danger is what Pope Pius XII called "the heresy of action." This heresy overemphasizes activity and causes one to forget the vital need for formal prayer which keeps the soul truly recollected and conscious of its union with Christ from whom all its success comes. The Rosary, therefore, is very helpful to them. It reminds them daily to follow Christ's example, and to pray with Him as well as to work with Him.

The strongly emotional type. In this group belong those whose strong emotions dominate their lives. All that appeals to their goodness, pity, love, etc., will find a quick response. They use their reason and will mainly to deepen or express their emotional fulfillment. Frequently they go no further in their meditation than the first question "Who." They become involved with the problems of the person considered in the mystery. They bleed with the suffering Christ and are ready at the moment to do anything to lessen His pain; they rejoice with the risen Savior and are eager to join Him in His glory. But due to their emotional nature, their grand-even grandiose-resolutions are seldom fulfilled and have little influence on their daily lives.

Any disillusionment, any suffering, is likely to discourage this type. And as long as they are completely ruled by their emotions, even the power of the Rosary to console will not help them much. They like to say the Rosary in their own way. Often they skip the mysteries that would help them most, saying only the ones that appeal to their emotions of the moment. They judge the value of a prayer by their emotional response. If they don't find quick consolation they cut their prayer short, in direct contrast to the example of Christ who at the beginning of His passion "being in an agony, prayed the longer."

Like the others, this group found that the questions and meditations interested them strongly at first. But this was for a brief time only. When their interest declined, new meditation material revived it; otherwise it would continue to fail rapidly.

In the spiritual life the emotions are very deceptive. Hence the Church requires us to live by faith. This faith is supernatural and goes beyond natural gifts of any kind, but the natural reason and will are more suitable supports for it than the natural emotions. Even on the natural level the emotions are blind and unreasonable. They are like the sugar coating which may entice us to take nourishing food or necessary medicine, but which has no health-giving qualities of its own. The emotions may misguide us; but, used rightly, they can urge the mind and will on to a fuller use of their powers. The emotionally inclined can be trained to say the Rosary in such a way that their emotions-like any God-given gift when rightly used-will help and not hinder their spiritual advancement.

The Rosary is a good means of teaching inner self-control, of giving one an emotionally balanced personality. The life, passion, death and resurrection of Christ and the moments most important in the life of the Blessed Virgin give a wonderful example of true self-control. Consideration and admiration of this control found in the mysteries of the Rosary will ' lead to imitation of it in daily life.

Psychology speaks of the transfer of emotions from one person or situation to another. And experimental studies have frequently confirmed that this transfer takes place-a fact that we might readily guess even before our Rosary tests proved it true once again. Many families exemplify this. Happy family life produces persons who are likely to be successful in their future social activities. Children readily transfer their trust and love for their own family to the others they meet in the parish or in the city.

The Rosary helps train the emotions. Those who say it correctly sympathize with Christ and Mary in their sufferings, admire them for their courage and gratefully resolve to imitate their love. This daily response in prayer helps them to make a positive response to their fellow men in daily life. Their meditations teach them that Christ died for all men, that Mary willingly offered her Son up to death for all of us. This reminds them of the value of all their neighbors. The great sufferings which Jesus and Mary bore with courageous love make their own lesser sufferings far more bearable.

Christ gives us the perfect example of self-control; in Him there is no weakness. His personality does not provoke anyone. Those who claim to hate Christ or His Church do so out of ignorance, or evil habits, or the bad example of companions. Certainly, their attitude is not a result of any real contact with Christ, or any honest meditation on His actions.

Christ ended His prolonged prayer and bloody sweat in the Garden of Gethsemani with the heroic words: "Not my will but shine be done." His self-control during the scourging and His forgiving words from the cross-these demand the deepest admiration of all those who face facts honestly. We find the same example of self-control in the life of the Blessed Virgin, from her humility at the annunciation and enthusiastic joy at the visitation to her final sacrifice at the foot of the cross. These Rosary pictures of the strong but controlled emotional life of Jesus and Mary are bound to perfect one's personality.


Among those taking part in the experiment were some who had never said the Rosary before, some who had said it now and then, and some who had already formed the habit of saying it daily. Therefore the first days naturally found clear differences among the experimenters. One of the important questions was this: "How much help did previous training in saying the Rosary give to you?" At first those with previous training had a marked advantage; but as time Passed the difference began to fade away and finally disappear. This was because all the participants adhered strictly to the proposed method.

Here, as always, one's progress can be measured by the skill with which he uses the means at hand to overcome the obstacles. As we have seen, the chief obstacles were distractions, unfamiliarity with the mysteries and the psychology of the Rosary, lack of personal involvement, etc. The chief means of improvement were learning more about the mysteries, getting personally involved through definite objectives, practice, and seeking the best time and place and mood for avoiding distractions.

The fact that all ended at a higher level than they began shows that it is never too late to learn how to pray well or to improve on what one already knows. This method should help anyone who makes a serious effort to use it; for it merely uses ordinary psychological principles as guides to solve whatever problems must be met.


Both the written answers and the vocal responses of the experimenters suggest that the following guidelines will aid one greatly in saying the Rosary.

1. Make an honest and persevering effort. Avoid a half-hearted, inattentive approach.

2. Have a clear goal or intention for your prayers. Seek definite graces for yourself, others, the whole Church.

3. Be faithful to the "Who, Why, What" method. There are other methods, but don't give up a certainly good method for one that is only possibly good.

4. Frequently consider how the example of Jesus and Mary can be helpful in handling your own problems. "Learn of me for I am meek and humble of heart" is the important first step in this imitation.

5. Try to keep your soul moved by positive emotions and thoughts, i.e., admiration, love, etc., and free from fear, hate, doubt, etc. This is still following Christ's and Mary's example.

6. Make resolutions which can be put into effect before they are forgotten; and then put them into effect immediately. Strive for steady growth in grace. If the Rosary brings you an added touch of spiritual beauty or a slightly greater resemblance to Christ daily, think how much Christlike beauty many years of the daily Rosary can bring to you.

7. Center your attention on the mystery and its meaning for your own life. Use the vocal prayers only to initiate (or return to) thoughts of the mysteries. However, on days when you are too tired or disturbed to meditate, just the saying or thinking of the vocal prayers will be profitable and sufficient.

8. Forget about time; you can't meditate in a Hurry. If you have but 10 free minutes for the Rosary and get so interested in the first mystery that there is no time left for the others, you have gained more than you would have gained by hurrying through all of them.

9. Remove the causes of distraction. Internal: absorption in some particular problem or activity of the moment; external: disturbing movements and sharp sounds. As students form a study time and place habit for greater efficiency, form a Rosary time and place habit.

10. Master the mysteries. Deepen your understanding of them by frequent and reflective reading. They should be so well known that thoughts during the Rosary become truly your own.

11. Be interested in the nature of the Rosary. Read other books such as this one. The more you know about the nature, history, fruitfulness, etc., of the Rosary, the easier it will be to say it faithfully and well.

12. Finally, the special rule which is necessary for putting all the other 11 into effect:

as well as you can.

If we make full use of these psychological guidelines, we will find it easier to pray the Rosary profitably. Then we cannot fail to see its true spiritual value. By uniting us more closely to Jesus and Mary it prepares us for the many vital activities of today's Church. It predisposes us in a special way to participate fully in the Mass and to faithfully fulfill the offering of ourselves made there. There is no greater or more encouraging work than joining forces with Jesus, our Savior, and Mary, our mother, in the salvation of souls.