The Prayer For Times When One Cannot Pray

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When fatigue and melancholy and stress seem to leave one's soul prostrate, and when every other form of prayer seems impossible, one should pick up one's Rosary and very simply begin to tell one's beads. There is no need to produce pious ideas or reflections. It is enough to hold the beads and repeat the prayers, gently, gently recalling the mystery at the beginning of decade and leaving the rest to the Holy Spirit who "helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought" (Rm 8:26).

One who is faithful to the prayer of the Rosary knows that while the lips pronounce the names of Mary and of Jesus, over and over again, "the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words" (Rm 8:26). The Rosary is the small, low door by which little children enter into the immense prayer of the Spirit who "intercedes for the saints according to the will of God" (Rm 8:27).

I have come to love this photo of the children of Fatima holding their beads. In this, I can imitate them. Even when I am incapable of doing anything else, I can still reach for my beads and begin to say the words. The Holy Mother of God is quite content with such childlike efforts. Her response is magnificently disproportionate to this mere token of my desire to pray well.

Father Jean Lafrance wrote that one who cannot pray well can at least pray much. The Blessed Virgin's word for little Francisco, that he would have to pray "many Rosaries," continues to inspire me. One who prays "many Rosaries" is opening his soul to the all–powerful supplication of the Mother of God and to the sweet groanings of the Holy Spirit on his behalf. There is no surer or shorter way to the "adoration in spirit and in truth" (cf. Jn 4:24) that the Father desires.


"Pick up your Rosary" - indeed how many patients in hospital, unable to do any more than hold the beads have received comfort in them! Almost as if they are holding the Virgin's garment by the hem! Perhaps the lost Ave's echo to her ears despite infirmity and disease? Eia ergo, advocata nostra! Deo gratias!

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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