Sunday, August 12, 2012

Prayer Fatigue

When I was growing up, my family said the rosary on a semi-regular basis.  When we started taking our faith more seriously, we began saying the rosary more often.  First daily, then three times daily, and inevitably when the new mysteries were added, four times daily.  Our homeschooling house started to resemble something like a domestic convent.

That isn't necessarily a bad thing.  In fact, it was my siblings and I who insisted that we add the Luminous Mysteries to our routine.  However, an excess of prayer without an excess of piety can make the mind wander.  Cue the robot voices.  (Have you ever tried to pray the rosary with another family?  Everybody's rhythm gets messed up.)

When I left home for college, suddenly there was no one making me stop and say the rosary at regular intervals everyday, and I quickly fell out of the habit.  I've been trying to take it up again recently, but it's been difficult.  The whole point of the rosary is that the repetition is conducive to meditation, but unfortunately I find myself meditating more about my grocery list than about the life of Christ.  I have to make myself sit down and do it because it seems like such a chore.  It's my fault for not praying it properly, but I can't seem to focus for more than two Hail Mary's.  When friends or family suggest, "Hey, let's say the rosary!" my first thought is unfortunately, "No, not again!"  I think I'm suffering from rosary burnout.

My prayer life in general really hasn't been great these past years.  Between not wanting to pray the rosary and dealing with all the emotional drama, I settled into a numb resignation to what was apparently the will of God.  All my prayers were reduced to simply praying that God's will be done, which seemed a little superfluous after a while.  Surely God would do His will regardless.

It deteriorated to the point that we were Catholics on Sunday, and living what my husband would call "the life of the virtuous pagan" during the week.  It was time for a change of approach.  The rosary is great, but there are thousands of other devotions to chose from.  We instituted a designated prayer time in the evenings (which we're still trying to stick to), and since neither of us can get excited about the rosary yet, we each read silently from whatever we find edifying at the moment.  My current favorite is a 1957 edition of The Raccolta we found at a second-hand book store.  The difference is night and day.

For those who are unfamiliar with it, the Raccolta is self-described as "A Manual of Indulgences (Enchiridion Indulgentiarum): Prayers and Devotions Enriched with Indulgences In Favor of All the Faithful In Christ Or of Certain Groups of Persons."  Although this edition is apparently long out of date and many of the indulgences no longer apply, it's still a treasury of some incredible prayers for every occasion (with the official Latin versions).  My prayer life is three-dimensional again.


  1. It's nice to know that I'm not the only one struggling with this.... Thanks.

  2. I suffer from rosary burnout myself. I was already suffering from it back when I visited your family, which is why I was always hiding upstairs taking my turn on the internet when y'all brought out your rosaries. Lately I've been reading the Epistles, and that's pretty helpful to me.

    I remember you telling me you used to walk into the chapel and say, "Dear God, Dave." I think God really appreciates that sort of prayer, probably more than the rosary drone.

  3. Much as I revere Bl. John Paul II, I don't care much for the Luminous Mysteries. Adding them makes a hash out of the symbolism of the Rosary being Mary's Psalter :p