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Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

CD of the decade. The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist scored a chart-topping Billboard hit with the 2013 release of Mater Eucharistiae. Now, the sister back with The Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations and Music.

The album transports listeners to the Dominican Sisters of Mary’s Ann Arbor chapel to experience their beautiful and pure renditions of the spoken prayer of the Rosary, as well as their own original meditations, set to their own sacred music. The recording also features three newly-recorded tracks and some original compositions and arrangements by the Sisters themselves. View a mini-documentary promoting the CD here.

I recently had to opportunity to speak with Dominican Sisters of Mary Foundress and Vocation Director  Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz.

JWK: What do you hope people get from this CD?

SR. JOSEPH ANDREW BOGANOWICZ:  We’d like to go into (the listeners’) homes to pray (the Rosary) with them, the homes of people that we will never see this side of eternity. No matter how far out our sisters spread or what we do, there are so many more people. The spiritual motherhood that we have as sisters, we’d like to bring them Christ in the way we’re able…On this CD, we have 20 mysteries of the Rosary with meditations for each one and then there’s music behind all the mysteries…In any case, what we would hope is that we would be able to be that outreach in places where we cannot go and homes and people’s hearts that we might not be able to reach physically but we can help them find that moment in their life that they can pray with us…Music is such a part of our prayer life. We’re bringing people, so to speak, into our chapel to pray the Rosaries and to enter into these beautiful mysteries the Church has given us to meditate on the life of Christ through the eyes of His mother…

…I think the beautiful thing about music is it leads us more quickly from the incredible busyness that our lives are all filled with…When you put it on and you begin to hear the music behind it, I think all of us are quickly led to that interior quiet where we can open up to the Holy Spirit speaking to our heart.  I think that is a big help in praying the Rosary since we come from very busy lives, (have) many concerns…We can’t automatically free our minds and hearts from such things but I think our music is a beautiful way to more completely and successfully be able to do that so that our prayer really does become…a contemplation, a communion with Christ Himself.

JWK: Can you tell me how the Rosary began as a form of prayer?

SR. JAB:  That’s a great question. I think since we’re incarnational people, we always wanted to touch something when we pray. I think that’s a very tangible expression of our prayer. We hold on to the Crucifix or we look at a painting or we remember a holy card or whatever. I think it’s always been in people that prayer would have that aspect to it.  Not that it necessarily has to but it certainly is something very appropriate…From many, many ages ago, I think people began with prayer beads. They would just…tie knots in them.

Eventually we get to the (point) in the Church when St. Dominic who was, of course, leading the charge against the heresies of the Albigensians and bringing them back to Christ. He was finding it very difficult to do so. He just went to Mother Mary and asked “How can I (bring them) back to Your Son?” The tradition is that she appeared to him holding the Rosary.  The Rosary would continue to take changes here and there through several more decades, several more years, until it comes to our present form which would be many years later. But it was the Dominicans who were very much (involved in) spreading the Rosary devotion throughout the world…(Pope John Paul II) said “The Rosary is my favorite prayer.” I love this. He called it “marvelous in its simplicity and in its depth.” I think that’s a beautiful way of expressing the Rosary — that everyone, no matter their understanding of theology or whatever…can open up to this simple and yet very deep contemplative prayer…The Rosary is the prayer of everyone, kings and paupers and all in between.

JWK: I guess it’s not either or, but can you speak to the difference between a recited prayer like the Rosary and the more spontaneous, free-flowing sort of prayer that when you just pretty much pour your heart out to God in your own words? Is one preferable to the other or is it a case of different strokes for different folks?

SR. JAB:  You know, the way that I would respond to that is that there are many times we want to pray spontaneously and we certainly should. But there are times when we need to pray — and we know we should — but we just feel drawn interiorly or burned out or frustrated or angry.  We can’t find words, necessarily, and, like a child that just goes back to saying what it knows, it’s something beautiful and means a great deal. We go back to the Hail Mary and it’s so comforting because it’s a prayer that accompanies us in good and bad times in our lives. It’s (helpful) because you don’t have to constantly be trying to come up with beautiful words on your own.

JWK: So, for those times when you can’t quite come up with the words of what you want to say, the Rosary can help open that communication with God.

SR. JAB:  Yes, exactly. I mean, those times come, I think, (when) somebody should go into their own spontaneous prayer which, hopefully, is quite frequent. But we all hit  those times when we just are dry.

JWK: And, of course, some people take peace in saying the Rosary on a daily basis.

SR. JAB:  One person emailed and said “I pray along with your CD  every morning when I’m in the shower.” She said “It’s the first thing that I do every morning. Before I greet my husband and my kids, I already pray for them. There’s a great peace in knowing the first thing that I’m doing in the morning is praying.”  She said “In 10 or 15 minutes I can do this. I’m not just doing a physical activity. I’m also praying…It’s so comforting and its a beautiful way to begin my day.”

Note: You can purchase The Rosary: Mysteries, Meditations and Music at the Dominican Sisters of Mary website.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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