Each year, the month of October is dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary. During this month, special emphasis is placed on praying the rosary more frequently. This time of year is a beautiful time to discover or rediscover the power of praying the rosary.
As often happens in the life of prayer, sometimes the rosary can be a challenge. It can be difficult to pay attention and we can become easily distracted. If you’ve ever struggled to pray the rosary don’t be discouraged, you’re in good company. One of the greatest saints in the Church also found praying the rosary to be challenging.
St. Thérèse of the Child Jesus
October begins with the feast day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux on the first of the month. Often called the Little Flower, Thérèse was a French woman who lived from 1873-1897. The youngest of five children, Thérèse entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux, France when she was only 15 years old. Nine years later, Thérèse died at the age of 24 from tuberculosis.
In the nine simple and hidden years in the Carmelite convent, Thérèse grew in love, wisdom and holiness. She is now a Doctor of the Church and continues to proclaim Jesus to the world through her autobiography.
Sometimes when we look at the lives of the saints we see the marvelous things they did and we forget that they are also humans. They wrestled with the same things we encounter in our own lives. They experienced joys, sufferings, successes and hardships, just like us.
St. Thérèse is no exception. Throughout her life, depression and scrupulosity were challenges for her. She even struggled to love some of the sisters in her convent that annoyed and irritated her. Thérèse also found it difficult to pray the rosary well.
In her autobiography, Story of a Soul, Thérèse explains the difficulties she experienced with the rosary.
When alone, (I am ashamed to admit it) the recitation of the rosary is more difficult for me than the wearing of an instrument of penance. I feel I have said this so poorly! I force myself in vain to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary; I don’t succeed in fixing my mind on them.
Story of a Soul, 243
If you’ve ever been discouraged because you cannot focus your mind on the mysteries of the rosary, take heart! A Doctor of the Church struggled too.
Thérèse recognized this challenge in her prayer life and instead of giving up, she chose to put her trust in the Blessed Mother. Here is what Thérèse says:
For a long time I was desolate about this lack of devotion that astonished me, for I love the Blessed Virgin so much that it should be easy for me to recite in her honor prayers which are so pleasing to her. Now I am less desolate; I think that the Queen of heaven, since she is my MOTHER, must see my good will and she is satisfied with it.
Story of a Soul, 243-244
Although Thérèse struggled to focus while praying the rosary, she did not give up. Rather, she placed her trust in the Blessed Virgin, knowing that the Blessed Mother knew Thérèse’s intentions.
Lessons for Us
Thérèse teaches us two great lessons in this short passage from her autobiography. First, she teaches us that it’s okay to struggle. Struggles are not a sign of a lack of love. They are part of the journey and Jesus and his Blessed Mother understand this.
Second, Thérèse teaches us not to be discouraged, but to persevere and trust. Like Thérèse, do not allow the things that challenge you to keep you from praying. Persevere through the struggle, knowing that the Blessed Mother is also your mother and she sees your good intentions and is pleased with them.
To learn more about St. Therese of the Child Jesus and her spirituality, consider reading her autobiography, Story of a Soul, which can be found on Amazon.