A Chain of Thought: 4 Quotes on the Rosary from Cora Evans
Among the publications of Cora Evans’ writings, Gems provides insights into the intricacies of the Catholic faith. These come from Cora’s life of prayer, mystical experiences, and deep relationship with Christ. Cora had many reflections on the rosary, that I hope will result in a deeper devotion to this wonderful prayer.
#1 “Morning Star, Queen of the Holy Rosary, are you weary with us who give so little for thy holy cause? We hear the cries for charity in this earth’s trials, but how much more is needed for the poor souls who cry to thee from Purgatory, ‘Mother, deliver us--give us light eternal”
Historically, Our Lady has a couple of titles associated with stars. She has the title of Star of the Sea (Stella Maris in Latin) since before the turning of the first millennium after Christ. As the Star of the Sea, Our Lady’s intercession is linked to stars that guide seafarers on their way. During our voyage to Christ, we need guides to maintain a fair course, just like sailor’s charting their path using the stars. The image of the morning star also paints a similar picture. St. John Henry Newman puts it beautifully: “it is Mary's prerogative to be the Morning Star, which heralds in the sun. She does not shine for herself, or from herself, but she is the reflection of her and our Redeemer, and she glorifies Him. When she appears in the darkness, we know that He is close at hand.” (Meditations and Devotions)
Addressing Our Lady as Morning Star and Queen of the Holy Rosary, Cora Evans casts herself into the loving arms of Our Blessed Mother. “Are you weary with us who give so little for thy holy cause?” The first and most important principle in the role of Mary in the course of salvation history is that her holy cause is indistinguishable from that of her Son. He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4, RSVCE).
A spiritual battle rages for souls on earth, and do we do our part? Prayers for our brothers and sisters in Christ are important and necessary to the spiritual battle. Even as great as our needs are, Cora points out the souls in Purgatory as in greater need for our prayers than people on earth. Do we support the souls in Purgatory, especially those from our family? On one hand, the holy souls have the immense joy of having seen God and knowing that their eternal home is heaven. On the other hand, their pain is tremendous. Imagine experiencing God and having a heart overflowing and fulfilled with His perfect love—and being separated from Him. They cannot purify themselves on their own, they depend on the intercession of those on earth. Praying for the holy souls is a great way to show Christian charity for the Mystical Body of Christ.
#2 “It seemed I heard our Blessed Mother say, ‘I catch the holy beads of prayer like petals rare from the many folded hands in prayer. There I place them in my soul where they flutter as captured doves of love, and in return I give my Son’s eternal joy to grant thy least desire.’”
Our Lady communicates to Cora the overabundant grace of God. The image of rare petals is lovely, but look what Our Lady offers in return: “my Son’s eternal joy.” Our prayerful offering of the rosary benefits us, of course, and we get the opportunity to pray for our special intentions. If that weren’t reward enough, Our Lady promises joy. Eternal joy! Whatever we offer to God, His gift back to us is always greater. The grace we receive far surpasses what we could ever offer to Him.
#3 “On each rosary bead I said a self-made prayer, ‘I love Thee Jesus-- I love Thee Jesus.’ Slowly, the beads fell through my fingers like sands in an hourglass, and my heart repeated as each bead fell, ‘I love Thee Jesus, I love Thee Jesus.’ Then, in wonderment I said aloud, ‘Beloved Jesus, dost Thou not tire of the same words over and over again?’ Jesus calmly answered, ‘I have never changed the melody of the sea. Its roar, tumble, and ceaseless hum are the same to Me in storm and calm, not do I tire of its song.”
& #4 “One by one the falling rosary beads bring to life the living prayer. It is indeed a chain of thought, all on the majestic King.”
These two quotes answer one of the main objections to the rosary: its repetition. At one end of that objection, some non-Catholic Christians see the rosary as the vain repetition for which Jesus scolded His listeners (Matthew 6:7). At the other end of that objection, many others—Catholics as well as non-Catholics—view the repetition as plainly boring. I think we should understand those objections on a human level. If said with only the lips and not the mind and heart, the rosary can be dry and lifeless.
Yet Jesus’ analogy of the repeated prayers to the melody of the sea is a great visual. The sea is no less majestic or powerful the thousandth time a wave crashes onto a beach. And the oceans have been tumbling and humming since the dawn of creation. The rhythm carries an inner peace—and the rosary is similarly designed to do the same to us. The successive Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glory Bes are meant to gently draw our minds deeper into contemplation of the mysteries. St. John Paul II said that reciting the rosary “is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae #3, emphasis in original). One antidote to the dreariness of repetition is this engaging of the imagination. Visualize the mysteries, or Jesus smiling, or standing next to Mary at Calvary. Once we engage the imagination in the mysteries of the rosary, it’s easier to pray with the heart. And when we pray with the heart, that’s when dryness gives way to meditation.
To counter the argument of vain or mindless repetition, take Cora’s spontaneous prayer from the quote above: “I love Thee Jesus.” We should use the rosary to offer our love to Jesus. Is there a better way to honor Jesus by giving Him our love, sitting in His mother’s living room? The lover never grows tired of hearing from the beloved, “I love you.” Mary shares in her Son’s love for us and ardently desires for every one of us to be with Jesus in heaven.
Let’s also not miss the message: pray the rosary every day! At Fatima, Akita, and in other apparitions, Our Lady asked us to pray the rosary every day. For the many that have difficulty with the rosary, even a 15-20 minute prayer is a hard habit to get into. I have felt it myself. The obstacles to saying the rosary are varied—but whatever the cause, there are solutions and advice that can help. For inspiration, try reading some powerful quotes about the rosary. For other practical tips, try the testimony of two parents who manage to say the rosary with small children. Sometimes I turn on a recording of a rosary to keep myself from getting too distracted. Doing that, you can pray with Fr. Patrick Payton (the “Rosary Priest”), St. John Paul II, other well-known Catholic figures, and even the greatest living baseball announcer, Vin Scully. Those that speak Italian can pray the rosary along with St. Pio (Padre Pio).
Cora Evans admittedly struggled to translate her mystical experiences in Gems into words. We can only use words, but words inevitably fall short; Cora compared them to clumsy brushes in the hands of an artist (Gems, pg. 8). The rosary has somewhat the same problem: how can praying with the Annunciation be confined to a decade of the rosary? Let Cora’s meditations help, and let the prayers of the rosary open the heart to contemplation of these eternal mysteries.