My young life is full of leit­mo­tifs, but none are as per­va­sive or promi­nent as a cir­clet of fifty-eight beads with a tiny cru­ci­fix attached. Car­ried in my pock­et, stashed in the car, clutched between my sleep­ing fin­gers, the rosary was every­where in my young life.

From the time of my moth­er’s con­ver­sion expe­ri­ence we prayed the rosary togeth­er as a fam­i­ly night­ly, usu­al­ly gath­ered togeth­er on our knees in the cor­ner of our liv­ing room, fac­ing the stat­ues of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Our Lady of Grace, perched up on their lit­tle shelves next to their match­ing votive can­dles. We would take turns read­ing the med­i­ta­tions for the mys­ter­ies — Joy­ful, Sor­row­ful, Glo­ri­ous — tak­en in rota­tion from a col­lec­tion of books we had.

I was a Sor­row­ful mys­tery sort of Catholic for most of my young life. The suf­fer­ing and death of Jesus for my sins was the cen­tral theme of my reli­gious out­look. Sure, the real good news was that He rose again, but I need­ed to con­stant­ly remind myself that I was a sin­ner, and that my sins caused Jesus pain, lots of pain. If I kept this fact before me at all times, then per­haps I could sin less.

I have noticed a shift in my affin­i­ty of late. In an attempt to recon­nect my des­ic­cat­ed soul with some­thing I have tak­en to pray­ing the rosary dur­ing my walk to work each day. As I cycle through the sets of mys­ter­ies — Joy­ful on Mon­days and Thurs­days, Sor­row­ful on Tues­days and Fri­days, Glo­ri­ous on Wednes­day and Sat­ur­day — I find that I don’t feel a lot of response any­where in my being with reflec­tion on the Sor­row­ful mys­ter­ies any­more. I am left cold by a sin-cen­tred approach to my rela­tion­ship with God. I realise that I am a sin­ner, that I sin a great deal, and that my sins caused Jesus the Man-God to have the flesh flayed off His Sacred Body. I get that. I won­der now, how­ev­er, if I am the sort of per­son who can real­ly ben­e­fit spir­i­tu­al­ly from such knowledge.

As I said, I know I do things wrong. Hell, most of the time it seems that pret­ty much every­thing I do is the wrong thing. I am feel­ing it is time for me to try to find things that will me help me on a pos­i­tive path, not to stop doing wrong things, but to start doing right ones. I have no idea if this has any­thing to do with it, but I have come to find a great con­nec­tion to the Joy­ful mys­ter­ies that I had nev­er thought of before. My mind wan­ders less on the Joy­ful days, and I find them the clos­est I have come to mean­ing­ful prayer is long dry years. I pray that I can con­tin­ue do dig into these hith­er­to-unex­plored spir­i­tu­al vignettes, and that per­haps the search for joy in my own spir­i­tu­al life may become less of a mystery.

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