Backpacking Rosary Reflection

In August, along with a number of my fellow student brothers, I had the opportunity to go on a three-night, four-day backpacking trip through part of the Cascade Mountain Range in Oregon. While it was quite beautiful, the hike covered 50 some odd miles, which, not being in peak physical condition, I found rather challenging.

In these hours of seemingly endless trudging, I began to notice pretty quickly that, when not engaged in conversation with my fellow trudgers, my mind would wander much further afield than my backpack laden body could possibly do. Memories good and bad, recent news items, ideas for the future, perhaps flights of imagination; my mind had a freedom to wander that is not usually available amidst the responsibilities of daily life. I found, however, that the things that came to mind were not necessarily good; even a cursory following of the daily news cycle is enough to bring about a depressing mood. A New York Post article from November 10th, summarizing major news stories from 2020, is ample evidence of this point: from the pandemic, to historic wildfires in Australia and the western US, to riots, to an extremely bitter Presidential election.[1] There is much suffering and evil in this world and, if we are not careful, this will twist our thoughts into darkness and despair.

As Christians, however, we know that while there is much suffering and evil in this world, that is not the end of the story. To counteract this despairing narrative that can so easily fill our minds, we need to antidote to fill our minds instead with the reality of God’s Incarnate Love that entered the world to suffer with us and redeem us from our sins.

“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”[2] St. Paul exhorts us to pray constantly; but how do we do this, and how does this solve the problem of evil in this world? During the hike, I found increasing consolation in praying the Rosary while walking. In the Rosary, we repeatedly ask God’s grace through the intercession of Mary our Mother; we do this while meditating on the primary mysteries of our Christian faith. We ask Jesus and Mary for the things we need; we offer them our sufferings; we consider how His Mother witnessed Him carry His Cross to His execution, how He then rose from the dead and ascended into heaven to prepare a place for us; how His Mother consented to all of this through her yes to God’s plan of love and salvation for the human race. I found that, while my mind still wandered to the goods and evils of this world, they were now put into the context of a much deeper reality: the reality of God’s saving love that entered the world and works to transform every human life. The Rosary became the means for letting the truth of God’s love enter my mind, which is the beginning of letting His Love transform our lives.

The world is desperately in need of this love and transformation, and it begins in our own lives. So, I beg you, pray the Rosary; start small, say one decade, say one Our Father, One Hail Mary, and one Glory Be. Becoming a saint does not happen overnight, but it happens through years of consistently allowing the Word of God to enter and transform our lives. Start today by praying the Rosary.

In gratitude to Fr. Emmerich Vogt, O.P. and to Rev. Br. Chrysotom Mijinke, O.P., both of whose reflections of the Rosary have formed my own.
[2] 1 Thess 5:16-18a (New RSV)

Br. Kevin Peter Cantu, O.P. | Meet the Student Brothers in Formation <a href="">HERE</a>