The Perfect Prayer

How do I pray well, even perfectly? Br. Anthony Maria Akerman, O.P. offers a reply to this perennial question.

What is prayer? The Catechism says it is the raising of the heart and mind to God. (CCC 2559)

To know God is our ultimate purpose. “This is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” (John 17:3) For when the soul sees God in the beatific vision, we are, in fact, united to him. “We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is,” says St. John. (1 John 3:2) And so in this life our highest activity is to fix our attention on God, to meditate upon him in prayer.

Therefore the Rosary, if said well, is the most powerful and effective prayer, because it directs our hearts and minds to God in the most excellent way.

First, the Rosary engages our whole self. With the beads in our fingers, a crucifix before our eyes, and a litany of “Hail Marys” on our lips, all the external senses are engaged. The spiritual powers of the soul (our intellect and our will) are now freed to be directed toward their highest end: God himself.

Everything in the Rosary serves this ultimate purpose, which is to meditate on God who became incarnate in the person of Jesus Christ. Our soul is transformed, it is conformed to Christ, as we unite ourselves to him in prayerful meditation. As St. Paul says, “All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image.” (2 Cor. 3:18)

This is the hidden treasure of the Rosary. Sadly, many fail to share in its wonderful fruit because they never pass beyond the mere externals of recitation. We often forget that Scripture teaches that the highest form of prayer is not in words but in the wordless work of the Holy Spirit within us. “For we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.” (Rom. 8:26-27)

And the Rosary is especially powerful because it leads us to Jesus through Mary, the perfect disciple. Mary is the model of prayer because she is the one who was constant in her meditation. As she beheld the life, death, and resurrection of Christ, she continually “cherished all these things in her heart.” (Luke 2:19, 51)

We, like Mary, must conceive Christ in our souls and carry him to the world. We, like Mary, must share in his sufferings and be crucified with Christ. And by this path, we too, with Jesus and Mary, will be raised to new life and taken up into glory.

Understood in this way, we can affirm with St. Louis de Montfort: “If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins you shall receive a never fading crown of glory.”

Br. Anthony Maria Akerman, O.P. | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE