Fr. Deogratias Ekisa
My first memorable experience of the rosary comes from when I attended a Catholic boys’ boarding school in Uganda for my sixth grade. Like many other schools in Uganda, ours did not have electricity. The school, however, provided a pressure lamp to enable us do our homework at night. And so all 60 or so pupils hurdled around this lamp to do our preps (Check out the video below and you can see what a pressure lamp looks like). But to save on kerosene, the lamp was lit only for two hours each night. So we had about 30 minutes in the dark, with nothing to do between supper and prep.
Imagine doing your school work every night huddled around a light like this!
A few of us decided to use that time to say the rosary. And so, we would gather in the school courtyard, squatting on the ground and say the rosary; some had crude rosary beads made from seeds, others had no rosaries so that their 10 fingers served the purpose (thankfully we all had ten fingers each). And for each decade we prayed in a special way for things that twelve and thirteen year-old school kids pray for: to do well in our exams, for better food, for our parents, for our teachers, for the sick etc. Gradually more and more pupils began to join us in reciting the rosary. After a year or so the school administration decided to add the recitation of the rosary to the daily timetable, confirming the African saying, that sometimes the children will beat the drum and the adults will dance to its beat.
Later on in my life I have recited the rosary with all kinds of rosary beads, including a nice ordination gift from an old nun, as well as a rosary blessed by the Pope. I have also used a ring rosary, which is quite helpful if you want to pray as Jesus teaches, without showing off.
When I began to drive, like Karen, I would say the rosary in the car. That was easier to do if one had at least one passenger in the car. Then a friend gave me a cassette tape (for those who do not remember what these are, click here.) I eventually graduated to a CD (compact disc) and even downloaded some MP3 files to use on an MP3 player.
My technological journey has recently introduced me to a rosary app. I will not even attempt to suggest any particular app, as there are so many good ones. I picked one that was multilingual, because last summer, I was learning Spanish and wanted to say the rosary in Spanish while I walked to language school every day. After I installed that app on my phone, I was able to pray the rosary along with the beautiful voices on the app, and also learned how to pray the rosary in Spanish.
Unlike the liturgy which has more precise norms and instructions, devotions like the rosary have lots of flexibility. This flexibility allows the people of God, to pray in the most appropriate way they can. And so, whether the technology is crude or advanced, whether the circumstances are simple or solemn, one can pray this beautiful devotion of the Church. You can pray with fingers or rosary beads, with a cassette tape or an app. You can pray the rosary in a remote village under the moonlight or in St. Peter’s Basilica under Michelangelo’s paintings. You can pray walking to school or driving to work. However you do it, what is important is that you pray to Christ with the Blessed Mother!
May we renew our veneration of the Blessed Mother and our devotion to her Son, during this month of Rosary!
Fr. Deogratias O. Ekisa is the Vice Rector, Director of Human Formation, Chair and Professor of Sacramental-Liturgical Theology at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. A priest of the Archdiocese of Tororo – Uganda, Fr. Deo was ordained in 1998 after his seminary studies at Notre Dame Seminary. He is also the Director of Seminarians for the Tororo seminarians studying at NDS. Fr. Deo hopes to bring to Notre Dame Seminary the experience of the African Church and culture. Read more about this blogger on our Author page.