Crown of Thorns to Crown of Roses: Deeper Conversion Through the Rosary

It had been a while since I last prayed the rosary. In my senior year of high school, before I started the day, I would pray my rosary. That year was important for discernment, and the rosary was providing me with the courage I needed to make the best possible decisions for my future, because these choices were being guided by prayer as I strove to do God’s will. For me, the rosary was a necessity, my daily bread, sustenance for my soul, to nourish me as I hungered for answers. Immersed in my studies once college commenced, I fell out of my daily rosary routine.

Flashforward several years later, and I was thinking about how much I missed the reassurance and closeness I had felt when praying the rosary, thinking that, in uncertain, challenging times being experienced globally, the spiritual reinforcements of the rosary were needed more than ever. Amidst conflicts around the world, I knew it was Mary who would bring peace. Personally, I was facing a crossroads again, too, determining how to use the gifts that God had given me to serve Him in the future, and make the positive difference I dreamed of in my lifework. While I knew I had to return to the rosary regularly again, I felt a bit nervous, as though I was meeting with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time. I felt unworthy—how could I hope to approach Mary in her greatness? Fighting past this feeling, I asked Mary to help me. Above all, Mary is our Mother. When I let her enfold me in her maternal presence, I knew a greater serenity, and found my way back from my worries; the anxiety blurring my vision was cleared away so that I could see what was most vital.

Every weed in the field of fears growing within is truly transformed into a blossoming flower of hope by Mary. The familiar practice of praying the rosary embraced my heart again, where a rose of hope began to bloom. As I said my intentions, I was given the insight to seek the intercession of special saints. I was thinking of holy people who had inspired me, whom I aspired to be like, especially in my writing ministry, and thought of Fulton Sheen, surely, a saint of our times, even if not formally given the distinction of canonization yet. Though I never had before, I decided to ask for his intercession, too.

It was at that moment I experienced something akin to when St. Augustine was told to “Take and read” the Bible. I turned around, seeing the book on my nightstand that I had forgotten was there: Seven Words of Jesus and Mary. I felt called, right then and there, to read it. After I finished praying, I read the book, a slim volume that packs an incredible punch with its wisdom and depth. In its pages, I found the message I had been meant to hear, a response to my prayers, as I grappled with being patient in learning God’s plan for me: “Do not forget either, that there are not two kinds of answers to prayer, but three: One is ‘Yes.’ Another is ‘No.’ The third is ‘Wait’” (60). I had to be patient with myself, too, knowing that my dreams of who I can become would be fulfilled in God’s time, according to His vision. Like being in a sunlit, tranquil garden, being with Mary and Jesus as I prayed the rosary helped me to find solace, not worrying, but trusting that my prayers were being heard, even if answers came in unexpected ways.

The rosary is regarded as a garland of roses with good reason. Like a rose, the rosary evokes beauty and love, but unlike flowers that fade over time, offering only an ephemeral fragrance, the rosary’s blessings, like innumerable flower petals showered onto the earth, are eternal. Well after we’ve finished saying our prayers, we can feel their impact, experiencing the spiritual richness of the rosary. Joy and hope instilled through praying it, because it brings us closer to Jesus and Mary. We never have to ask whether or not we are loved by Jesus and Mary with each petal of prayer, bead by bead- the love of the Son and His Mother are palpable as we transition through the Mysteries of the rosary, considering how every part of their lives was dedicated to loving us, saving souls. Beyond earthly beauty is transcendent love, the treasures stored in Mary’s heart, given to us in a concrete form that we can hold in our hands, just as She tenderly held Her infant Son, Jesus.

Perhaps it’s not that the rosary is simply a garland, but a crown. Every prayer helps to heal the wounds inflicted by the crown of thorns, reminding us that we were made for more than the limits of this life. The paper crowns of the world tear, dissolving into the past, but heavenly crowns are forever, so we aspire to be by Jesus’ throne, always near Him, the very embodiment of love. And who better to bring us there than His Mother, the Queen of the Rosary, and of Heaven?

Before I start praying the rosary, my mind may be cluttered with thoughts, but my questions are untangled like brambles by the Untier of Knots Herself as I proceed through the Mysteries. So much of life is mysterious. It’s carefully ordered by God, but His ways are beyond what we can know sometimes. Even so, the most essential truths are clear: we’re called to live lives of faith, hope, and charity. No matter how many times we pray the rosary, we can always see these virtues illuminated in the Mysteries, understanding how the joyful and sorrowful experiences of life teach us how to be like Christ, through the intercession of Mary, leading us to celestial glory. As Sheen said, “It is the same sun that rises each morning, but it makes a new day” (45).

All we experience, whether disappointing or uplifting, is for a purpose, rendered good by God in His mercy. The pain Jesus experienced was transfigured, as we were redeemed by His sacrifice on the Cross, and He rose again, triumphing over death to renew life in every soul. Mary is there for it all, comforting us every step of the way. Each cross we carry helps us see Christ and His Mother in another light, so that we can better know the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart, relating to the Mysteries in new ways.

In prayer, I learned the patience to journey with Jesus, following Him by placing each foot in the prints He impressed, the mold He made. Thanks to the rosary, I am taking life bead by bead, steppingstone to steppingstone, building up gradually, like crossing a lake, or finding footholds to climb a mountain. No matter how uncertain the future may seem, Mary’s hand leads the course of every day in the right direction, and in praying the rosary, we can ensure that our steps are aligned, not trying to walk ahead, but walking in grace beside Those Who love us most.

Photo by Trac Vu on Unsplash

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Kathryn Sadakierski is a Catholic writer who is passionate about sharing her faith. Her essays, reviews, and poems have appeared in publications around the world, including Christian Courier (Canada), Critical Read, Ekstasis Magazine, Foreshadow Magazine, Gaudium Magazine, Literature Today, Pensive: A Global Journal of Spirituality and the Arts, The Curator Magazine, Today’s American Catholic, and Vita Poetica. She holds a B.A. and M.S. from Bay Path University.

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