They were kneeling down in front of me during a visit that I made to the Blessed Sacrament—a long, long visit. And so I could not help noticing how the rosary beads slipped through their fingers, not fast and carelessly, but bead by bead, slowly and thoughtfully. I could see that they were really saying the rosary. After about fifteen minutes I saw that they had gone round the circlet once. I wondered what they were going to do next. Well, would you believe it ! They began at the beginning again and carefully, reverently went round the circlet again. "Mighty good young people," said I to myself.
I could see that they were thinking hard. Their eyes were either fixed on the tabernacle or else modestly cast down upon the rosary. Not once did they look around in church. Can you guess what they were thinking about? Why, they were thinking about the respective mystery of the rosary; they were meditating on it. I can just imagine how, during the first joyful mystery, for instance, they saw Mary kneeling in her little home in Nazareth, praying in the silence of her tidy room. Then they saw the Archangel Gabriel suddenly appear before her and tell her that she was to be the Mother of God. They seemed to hear the angel's and Mary's answer, and. her question. Then thought of how Our Lady bowed her head and gave her consent. Yes; she would become the Mother of God, since she could be the Mother of God and still be a Virgin. Then they thought of how the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ, at the very moment when Mary consented; became Man in her womb, and Mary began to be the Mother of God. Then they thought of how the angel departed and told the good news to Heaven and then get ready to come down to the earth and tell it to men on that first Christmas night when he appeared to the shepherd and brought them good tidings of great joy. Of some such things they were thinking during each mystery, I'm sure—always something different, of course, because each mystery is different and tells us something else about the life of Our Lord or His Blessed Mother. In fact, there is no better life of Jesus and Mary than just the holy rosary. Yes; I'm sure these two children were thinking of such things, because they looked just like a boy and a girl who knew how to say the rosary. And, as you know, to say the rosary the way it ought to be said, one must think, meditate.
As I watched this boy and girl I noticed that their lips were moving. I wonder what their lips were moving for. Can any of you guess ? Why, of course you can! They were moving because they were saying the Hail Mary over and over again, and the Our Father and the Glory at every ten Hail Marys. Yes ; that's it. The roses of the Hail Marys were dropping from their lips.
You see, they knew that in order to say the rosary well one must also say the Hail Marys and other prayers. The rosary is not only a mental prayer, a prayer in which we think of holy things, but it is also a vocal prayer, a prayer in which we pronounce certain words and thus sanctify the lips and the gift of speech.
I noticed that this boy and girl were pronouncing the words slowly and distinctly, and yet in a low whisper, so that they could hardly hear themselves. And certainly no one else could hear them—no one but the angels and Mary and God. That is the way to pray. One should never be so loud when alone as to disturb others the least little bit. Of course, when praying aloud with others, one should join in heartily, so that the prayer may be like one harmonious choir of music to God—the music of prayer.
And yet I could see that those two were saying the prayers distinctly and devoutly. They at least formed every word with the tongue and lips. That was fine. I'll tell you why that is so very important. In order to gain an indulgence for a prayer, you know, except for a very few extraordinary cases, that prayer must be really vocal, that is, it must be pronounced with the lips, even though one does not hear it distinctly oneself. I really think these two children knew this. They knew, too, so it would seem, that the rosary is a highly indulgenced prayer. Maybe they were using rosary beads that a priest had blessed and enriched with five or six hundred days indulgence for each Our Father and Hail Mary. How wonderful it is to be thus able easily to gain so many precious indulgences for the poor souls in purgatory or for oneself. Why, also in this way the rosary is a real gold mine of spiritual benefits.
Finally I saw the boy and girl I am talking about devoutly kiss the rosary's crucifix and arise and leave the pew. Each one made a pious genuflection. At the entrance each one took holy water and made the sign cross. "Mighty good children," I thought to myself.
Now, I suppose you are wondering how I happened to see all that when I was making that long visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Well, I really could not help seeing, since I was up in the choir gallery and the children, who, by the way, did not even know that I was there, were down in the body of the church. And it wasn't really a distraction for me to notice all that, It only helped me to pray better than ever; for I felt that I was not going to let any boy or girl get ahead of me in devout prayer if I could help it. But it surely would take a good one to beat two such children.
Which only goes to show again the power of good example and how every boy or girl can be a real apostle of goodness just by his or her fair example in church—and elsewhere, too.
And now I am again at the end of my little talk. I was going to say more about the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, but I think that I have said enough. Say the rosary every single day at least once and say it the way I really do think the boy and girl mentioned above were saying it.
Come, my boys and girls, let's crown Mary with a crown of fairest roses, roses that have no thorns, by saying the rosary in the beautiful way suggested by this talk.
May the Mother of the Savior bless each and every one of you over and over again!
"Mary, Virgin mild, bless us with thy loving Child!"
Source: Talks to Boys and Girls, Imprimatur 1931
You can find a coloring picture for the children below.