The Rosary in Times of Darkness

So, long story short: I am re-opening the tiny book shop again and selling my books once more — including my Rosary set that I’ve made, which illustrates every prayer of the Rosary. You can take a look at the shop here!

The long story?

I am not sure how many people noticed this (indeed, I don’t think that I made any official announcement at all!) but early on in March, when it became apparent that this pandemic was definitely going to impact everybody in some form or another, I quietly closed up my shop for a time.

After all, things were happening much too fast. Everything was shutting down to prepare for the onslaught of the pandemic. Italy’s death toll was spiraling upward with no end in sight, and the United States was expecting to be slammed just like Italy. Even our diocese made the hard choice to forbid public masses and all church gatherings, long before the entire United States forbade public masses.

Things looked really bad.

Things still look really bad, in fact.

And yet… I can safely ship packages out to you. Packages full of pretty books to remind us of Jesus Christ and His great love for us.

And so I will.

Because, let’s face it: things look dismal. You look at the news and everything is awful and scary. There are precious few stories out there that give us hope right now.

And that is what we need more than everything in these strange times.

We need hope.

Yet, where are we supposed to find hope in a world that seems to have turned upside down? How are we supposed to find hope when news of death and inevitable poverty seem to swirl around us? How are we supposed to find hope when anxious thoughts swirl around our minds and attack us constantly?

And I don’t have any easy answers for you! It’s hard… really hard. I know people who are locked in their homes, afraid, because they have health conditions that make it unsafe for them to go out, because if they do get sick, they risk death. I have friends who are struggling with money and are not exactly sure how they are going to pay for their next grocery bill. As far my family goes, my husband is lucky… he is considered essential, we’re in a state that seems to be lowering the curve quite a bit, and we are young enough where we will likely be okay, probably. But then, this means that there is a very real possibility of us getting sick. And then what?

And so, I have no easy answers for you! Everything is hard for everyone right now.

And yet, I know that no matter what, I know that Jesus Christ loves us. I know that He is there always for us — after all, that is what He promised us! And I know that, even through the midst of this valley of tears, He is urging us to place our burdens and sorrows on His Cross so that He can carry us through.

The Vale of Tears, by Gustave Dore, c. 1883. Petit Palais, Paris, France.
The Vale of Tears, by Gustave Dore, c. 1883. Petit Palais, Paris, France.

The gospel sings of hope to us. It reminds us that Jesus has come and destroyed death. Now, even when we die, we can be reunited with Him Who is Love. We are not abandoned! And this message — this Good News — is even more important to us to contemplate now that death seems to surround us in so many ways.

And the Rosary is one of many ways to meditate on the gospel! In Japan, when Christianity was banned and masses were banned, the Japanese kept the Christian faith through the mediation of the Rosary until finally Christianity was allowed to be practiced. And what a beautiful way to keep the faith! Every mystery allows us to contemplate yet another part of Jesus Christ’s life.

And there is a beautiful rhythm to it. Even when we are overwhelmed, even when things seem collapsing all around us and we aren’t even sure what words to even say to God, the Rosary remains an accessible way to pray, even when we may not know the words to say. And it is a beautiful way to immerse our own lives in the gospel.

Venerable Fulton Sheen says:

The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying that the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description.

Fulton Sheen
The Madonna of the Rosary, by Dirk Herndricksz, c. 1578. Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, Napoli, Italy.
The Madonna of the Rosary, by Dirk Herndricksz, c. 1578. Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, Napoli, Italy.

In a time where public masses are restricted or, as is the case of my state, temporarily closed entirely, we need to remember the gospels and the message of hope even more than usual. And the Rosary is a great way to do that.

And so, I am reopening my tiny shop.

Because the books that I’ve made help center me in prayer and make me focus on the gospel.

Because the Rosary is a beautiful prayer and I am so happy to spread it in a way by illustrating every single prayer in a beautiful set of books.

And because it is yet another way of spreading the Good News in a time in which Good News is hard to come by.

And so, if you would like to buy some books for yourself, or perhaps send a care package for someone who desperately needs some beauty in their life, my tiny book shop is now open!

And, of course! I will continue to be sharing lots of lovely religious art with you all for free on this blog — because honestly, it is such a joy to share this beautiful art with all of you and share the Good News with you. 🙂

Anyway, I hope everyone is doing wonderfully in this very strange time! Godspeed and God bless you!

Karina Tabone

Karina Tabone is a wife, mother of four, author, blogger, and lover of Christian artwork. She's the author of the Illustrated Rosary series, which pairs every prayer of the Rosary with beautiful religious artwork. She likes also milkshakes, sunshine, and mystery novels. Follow her on Twitter at @illustr_prayer.

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