GETTING TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER

by Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

How slow is slow?

A few months ago, by the grace of God, I completed a new album entitled "Pray the Rosary!" Someone asked me to please pray the rosary very slowly from the heart as Our Blessed Mother has asked. I thought a great deal about the request. (Actually, the studio work had already been completed by then.) What does it mean to pray with our hearts and is a largo tempo a requisite?

I support Our Lady's request and believe in it. We must pray from our hearts, which means...sincerely, humbly, with attention and with meaning. What I "labored" over, however, was "tempo." How slow is "slow." And at what point does praying "slowly" cause me to watch how I am praying rather than forgetting myself and praying in union with the mysteries? As I mentioned, I thought about this a lot, and if you don't mind I'd like to share my thinking with you.

I was taught (many years ago) that one can pray the rosary two ways. One can think of the meaning of the words while praying...or, (and this is preferred) one can put oneself in the scene of the mystery and meditate on that mystery. The latter would allow oneself to be "lost" in the mystery...be absorbed in it...allow oneself to be filled with the beauty and truth which the mystery teaches and therefore, by the grace of God, come to a deeper appreciation of that mystery.

Prayer is prayer, and whatever or however one can pray most attentively, may be advisable for that person. I know that for myself, and therefore, I am sure...for many others, if I pray the rosary thinking of the words, I won't get past..."I believe..." How then can a rosary tape be recorded? It would not be possible to put more than one rosary (5 decades) on an album. This certainly can be done, but I, for one, find praying... like... this ...to ...be ...taken ...up ...with ...how...I ...am ...praying...instead...of...forgetting myself and "looking" at Our Lord and Our Lady.

The next point I would like to make is that how slowly must one pray to be sincere? What I am writing to you is coming from my heart. I write it sincerely, and so a normal conversational tempo need not be insincere. I can hardly imagine that when Peter said to Jesus: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!" (a beautiful act of faith and a prayer) that he said it apart from a normal conversational speed. After all, did God not make us to speak? And did He intend that we speak to each other...at a tempo that is very slow? Am I more sincere, more honest, more attentive if...I...speak...ve ...ry.....slow...ly? I think...not necessarily. I do concur, however, that I have walked into Church on Sunday mornings, while some people are praying the rosary before Mass, and they were praying it so fast that I sounded like they couldn't wait to get it finished. I found this most offensive. Perhaps, that is the other extreme.

My rosary tape is almost 75 minutes in total length. Each rosary takes about 20 minutes. (Three rosaries are recorded on it.) As indicated earlier, from a technical standpoint, an album or audio tape production could probably not "hold" more than one rosary, if the recording of it went very slowly. It also has the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and some Fatima prayers.

St. Paul said that virtue lies along the middle road. I support totally that people pray from their hearts. But to be sincere and humble in prayer... to pray from one's heart... can be accomplished by speaking or praying at a normal conversational speed.

Not too long ago, a friend of mine went to Medjugorje. I asked her to please take a rosary tape with her and a prayer of consecration which I had written. Upon her return, she mentioned to me that she prayed the prayer of consecration during the time of an apparition. When she finished the prayer, she looked up to see the miracle of the sun. She had never seen it before. She felt in her heart, as I do, that the prayer of consecration was accepted by God and Our Lady and that such was confirmed by the miracle of the sun.

I reread the prayer a few moments ago...renewing the consecration of this tape. I noticed as I prayed that I was reading the prayer at a normal pace...yet meaning, from my heart, every word. For myself, I know I was sincere in my prayer...that it came "from my heart," even though it was not prayed with a "largo" tempo which can be far more distracting to me, than prayer at a normal pace.

Dear Blessed Mother,... I want everyone who prays the rosary with the help of this tape to be aided to pray from their hearts.... I love you! I am unworthy to be called your servant, but what an honor to be so! Kiss Jesus for me! Smile at the Father for me! And please ask the Holy Spirit to fill me to the brim with Himself, who is Love!..." God bless you!