Updated: Sep 26, 2019
You've been there. You finally get everyone together to recite the rosary. You're quiet and focused. You make the sign of the cross and jump into intentions. You state one, then another, then another. Before you know it, the litany of intentions is droning on and your focused, prayerful mindset is being dragged further out of reach. "Wait, why are we praying for him?" "Have you heard the latest on their situation?" "That reminds me, I forgot to tell you about that thing I read about today." My family is very guilty of this!
First, we should clarify that praying the rosary for intentions is a good thing. We know Sr. Lucia, one of the three Fatima seers, said that Our Lady has made the rosary even more powerful in our time, so it's a wonderful way to bring the needs of your family, your friends, and the world to the Immaculate Heart. We also know that praying the rosary for multiple intentions doesn't divide up the graces into smaller and smaller intentions. On the contrary, we know St. Therese made it a common practice to offer the entire Universe to the Hearts of Jesus and Our Lady.
However, sometimes reciting your intentions before the rosary can lead to problems for our weak, human hearts. Sometimes, and this is especially true with little ones, it just plain takes too long. Sometimes you forget things you ought to pray for. Sometimes it distracts you. (Now, if it doesn't do those things for you, but works as a way to get the whole family engaged, that's great. But, if it does, read on for our solution.)
Enter the Rosary Jar. We took a jar we had lying around, a few pieces of computer paper, and some scissors. We cut out little slips of paper, put our heads together, and wrote an intention on each one. Now, every time we pray the rosary, we say "for the intentions in the jar" and get on with it. Easy as that!
Here are some benefits we've noticed:
We pray for way more intentions now.
We don't leave out our Confirmandi, Godchildren, parish priest, or other important intentions like we used to occasionally (sorry, guys!).
It's a lot quicker, especially when you are aiming for the daily 15-decade rosary like we are.
Our intentions are unified, even when praying separately. I normally pray two sets of mysteries during the day (while nursing), while Pater prays his two on his commute. Now, we are more united in prayer.
So, if you'd like to try this, sit down with your whole family and think up your intentions. I think we spent about thirty minutes total coming up with things. It was a really sweet time remembering all of the things for which we can offer up our rosary, even sweeter than when we used to do it before our rosaries, because we can devote a lot more time to it.
If you'd like to give it a try, here are a few tips:
Set aside a time weekly or monthly to go through the intentions, renew them, and update them. You don't want to do this once and never look at them again!
Find a special place to put the intentions that were answered as a visual lesson for your little ones.
Help your children remember this jar, albeit briefly, before you pray. At the very least, you have a visual to point to to show them the many things for which our prayers can help!
You could keep this on the family altar, but if you are going to have more personal requests, consider keeping it in your room or a more private place. For example, we have many family members (and their conversions) listed, and we wouldn't want them to stumble across it while visiting.
You could also use this as a teaching tool for your little ones when they are learning about redemptive suffering or morning offerings. For example, if they are having a hard time with complaining, you could have them go pick out an intention from the jar before cleaning up their toys to emphasize the concept of "offering it up." Then, while doing it, you could help them visualize the intention or just remind them of its importance as necessary.
And that's it! What are some tips you have for praying the family rosary? Comment below! We'd love to hear them.