Spirituality is the profound belief that we are connected to a higher power and that that power somehow reveals to us that our purpose and meaning are beyond what we can sense physically and mentally. In recent decades, scientists have examined the effects of spirituality on health. Thus far, indicators reveal that there is a correlation, i.e., greater spirituality brings about healthier attitudes, behaviors, and habits. They even suggest that possessing a spiritual outlook makes us more resilient to trauma and better able to cope with life’s difficulties.
One way of coping with difficulties in ancient Greece was through the use of worry beads. There, a string of beads called komboloi (translated as knots or collection of knots) helped people relax and transfer their troubles from mind and heart onto fingers where problems got smoothed away or brushed aside as the beads slid through them. During the thirteenth century, starting with Saint Dominic of Spain, many Christians began praying the rosary, a string of prayer beads that helps users connect to the gamut of emotions contained in the 150 Biblical Psalms by repeatedly meditating on a prayer about life and death 150 times; those who pray it reflect upon their earthly joys and sorrows while seeking to transform problems through the grace of God and intercession of His mother, who participates in heavenly glory. Mothers tend to possess intuition about their children because they are so closely united to emotions they observe and shape during developmental years. More recently, Pope Francis popularized a particular image of Mary as “Undoer of Knots.” This image goes back to seventeenth century Germany in which the Blessed Mother was seen as one who can help us overcome our worries by untying the little knots of our lives. It’s as though she is reminding us of the adage: “Don’t sweat the small stuff” and “sooner or later you’ll realize it’s all small stuff.” I suspect that the beads or the knots, religious or secular, ancient or modern, help us tap into the connection between greater spirituality and healthier disposition.
Every aspect of our health (physical, mental, social, emotional…) is tied to the others: if we become stronger in one arena, it enhances others. Spiritual health might be central to all the rest. Better spiritual practices, especially by Christians who name God as the Prince of Peace and seek to imitate His mellow heart, can quell anxiety, diminish stress, and produce greater well-being; through prayer they can improve coping skills, foster hope, promote healthier activity, and even reduce depression and anxiety while encouraging relaxation. Though I’m not stating that spirituality will save us, I am suggesting that it can bring about better overall health. Praying the rosary is one simple way to do so.
I will be leading mini rosary retreats on September 28 and October 20, beginning with 9:00 Mass and ending at 1:00. If you are interested in participating, go to our website to sign up: http://www.scbretreathouse.com/registration/. Choose the “Mini Retreat” option and input your chosen date in the “Requested Retreat Start Time” field. Once we receive your information, a member of our staff will contact you with more details. Or, if you’re like me, who doesn’t get on-line registration, just give me a call (816-436-0880) and we’ll do it the old fashioned way.