Kate Towne shares her family's strategy for praying the Rosary with children.
October 7 is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the entire month of October is dedicated to the Rosary as well. As I told my boys just the other day, the Rosary is a weapon — that’s how powerful it is! In fact, during his Wednesday audience on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, Pope Francis called the Rosary “a weapon that protects us from evil and temptation.”
Since becoming a mother, I’ve really tried to incorporatethe Rosary into our daily family life — it gives me a great deal of comfort to think of my boys being given this tool that will help them always, through any crisis and in any circumstance. However, I’m sure that anyone who has tried to pray a family Rosary with small children knows that it can be one of the worst things ever. Though of course we know the graces are abundant, it’s more like the graces you get from a pilgrimage where you miss the plane and your luggage doesn’t arrive and your shoes give you blisters and you spend the whole first day on your pilgrimage jet-lagged and throwing up, and the rest of it with a roommate you don’t get along with, and less like the graces you receive on a retreat where you have your own room and lots of lovely quiet prayer time and everything and everyone is serene and respectful and you can really feel the holiness of heaven washing over you.
I’ve tried many things over the years to make it easier to pray the Rosary together and easier to keep up with (the latter follows the former for us, for sure), and we’ve had a fair amount of success with these things:
Find the best location and circumstances
After trying many other ways, the very best way I’ve found of praying the family Rosary without losing my mind is to pray it while taking a ride in the van. This is the best advice I can give about making the family Rosary doable.
My children have assigned seats in the van, carefully considered so as to reduce the possibility of conflict. Their seat belts prevent a good amount of “getting in each other’s business and space.” The passing scenery provides a nice distraction (especially since we usually go after dinner—we’ve seen some amazing sunsets on our Rosary rides) and being out of the house helps everyone feel refreshed (especially if we’ve been mostly inside all day).
Give the children a role
Whether in the van or at home, we also have each child lead one decade of the Rosary, which helps keep them focused on the Rosary and is the best way for them to learn how to pray it. As each child gets to about kindergarten age, I offer them the opportunity to lead a decade. It has taken some of them longer than others to feel comfortable with it, but currently all my children but the baby are up to leading a decade — since there are six of them, each night we skip one of them (I go in age order); if there are any missing, then my husband or I fill in.
Pick a time that works and try to stick to it
Another thing that’s really helped me make sure the Rosary gets done is not waiting for a time when everyone can make it (within reason). In the past, one of the reasons we might not get the Rosary prayed is because I was waiting for everyone to get home from their various evening activities, which didn’t always work with dinner and bedtimes. Since school started last month, I’ve set 5:30 as Rosary time, no matter who’s home. My ideal is for us to say it together, but praying it in un-ideal circumstances (and less-than-perfectly) is absolutely better than not praying it at all.
In his October 7 audience, Pope Francis noted, “In her apparitions, Our Lady often exhorted the recitation of the Rosary, especially in the face of looming threats to the world … Even today, in this time of the pandemic, it is necessary to hold the Rosary in our hands and pray for us, our loved ones and all people.”
If you don’t already do so, consider trying to work the Rosary into your daily routine! (Visit USCCB.org for more information on praying the Rosary.)
I’d love to hear any tips and tricks you have with how to say the Rosary with small children!
Copyright 2020 Kate Towne
Image: copyright 2019 Holy Cross Family Ministries, all rights reserved
About the Author
Kate is a writer, wife to a really good man, and mama to their seven boys ages 1 to 15. She shares her thoughts on Catholic baby naming at Sancta Nomina, and her first book, Catholic Baby Names for Girls and Boys: Over 250 Ways to Honor Our Lady (Marian Press, 2018) can be found at ShopMercy.org and Amazon.