Oh No! I thought one evening. I had not prayed the rosary yet and I also had not yet achieved my daily step count goal. What to do? This thought pattern became the genesis of a new devotional practice in my spiritual life. It was not the introduction of a new devotion, but a new way of engaging an existing devotion.
I love Mary and the rosary! I pray the rosary every day. Sometimes I am able to pray it with a group after daily Mass; other times I pray while I’m driving. More recently though, I’ve started to pray the rosary while walking. And in the midst of my reflection one day, I realized that I was walking with Mary. This idea of walking with Mary encouraged me, and I found it to be true for three different reasons.
1. Mary Walks with Us through the Scriptures
In the meditative component of the rosary, Mary takes us by the hand, and accompanies us through the many events of her life and the life of her divine son. She walks with us and guides us deeper into the biblical mysteries. As we reflect on the various episodes of their lives, we glean new insights into the Annunciation or the Wedding Feast at Cana. We become enlightened, because our Mother takes us by the hand, just as our earthly mothers do, and guides us to greater union with Jesus. Mary walks with us through the scriptures, throughout mediation, as we walk with her in our daily lives.
2. Mary was a Person on the Move
Many of the mysteries which focus our reflection reveal Mary to be a person on the move. The weaker traditions of the Annunciation place Mary at a well (commemorated by the Orthodox in Nazareth). If this were the case, Mary walked to the well and there received the angel’s message. Mary travels in haste to the hill country of Judea. She goes with Joseph to Bethlehem. They journey to Jerusalem to the temple. Mary travelled to the wedding in Cana. As Mel Gibson portrayed in The Passion of the Christ, Mary searched the streets of Jerusalem looking for her son, following Him to Golgotha. When one prays the rosary while walking, we join Mary in her many sojourns in her life, as she accompanies us in our prayer.
3. Mary Desires Our Conversion of Life
Day by day the American population becomes more and more obese. It’s statistically proven! It’s why Fitbit and Apple Watches, and the Health app on the Iphone are all the craze! Our technological fascination propels people to become more active by the very fact of seeing how inactive our lifestyles have become. It’s why people are striving to walk 10,000 steps or 5 miles, or whatever their goal might be.
In Mary’s apparitions throughout time, one theme has been constant—she desires conversion. Right here in the United States in 1859, Mary said, “I am the Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners.” She is praying for us. She wants us to convert from our sinful lifestyles. Sure in our obese culture one could say the sin of gluttony might be a factor, but others suggest that people have become addicted to food. Whether our insistence on eating unhealthily is sinful or the result of addiction, conversion remains possible.
Conversion is a slow process but it must begin somewhere. In our own lives, from eating too much or being inactive, when we get up and get out of our office chair or the sofa, and take a 20 minute walk with Mary, we have begun the process of converting our lives. Not only by becoming active, but also through prayer. We cannot ask Mary 53 times to pray for us sinners NOW and at the hour of our death, and not expect our lives to change.
Walking with Mary does not have to be a solo event, but can be done as a family or as a group. What a beautiful witness a family would provide to those in the world who do not think of God. If we begin to walk with Mary each day, our lives will be radically different as she leads us to her son. Our devotion to Mary will not only be good for our souls but for our bodies, the temple of the Holy Spirit. And what’s even better, is the efficacy our prayer will have for our world, as we implore Mary’s intercession. So if you are like me and you love Mary and the rosary, and realize at 8:00 you need a few more steps on your Fitbit and haven’t prayed the rosary, lace up your walking shoes and Walk with Mary.