Recently, the Wall Street Journal had an interesting article about brain research.
Researchers are finding that people who use a “personal mantra” — mentally repeating over and over a positive word or phrase that reinforces their values — tend to be calmer, feel more in control and are less likely to get stressed out.
I find it fascinating that scientists are confirming something that Christians have known from the very beginning.
I am thinking of the ancient practice of repeating the name of the Lord — Jesus. Eastern Catholics and Orthodox have long said the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” often reciting these words mentally according to the rhythms of their breathing.
Many Christians prefer to simply invoke the divine Name, speaking the word “Jesus” softly to themselves or silently thinking it. Repeating the holy name often in our hearts, we pray always and without ceasing, as Jesus and St. Paul taught us to do.
But we cannot confuse the invocation of Jesus’ name with the use of “mantras” like those being studied by the scientists.
It is one thing to use a word or phrase for self-encouragement — researchers studied people who used words like “breathe” or “shine” or “love” or “this will pass” and “never give up.”
But the name of Jesus, as the apostles teach, is the name that is above every name and there is no other name under heaven by which we are saved.
And although we can sometimes take this for granted, it is the name of Jesus that is at the heart of the rosary — “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.”
I was thinking about that during the pope’s pilgrimage to Fátima last weekend to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Blessed Mother’s appearance there on May 13, 1917. In her apparitions at Fátima, the Blessed Mother revealed herself as “Our Lady of the Rosary” and she instructed that a chapel should be built on the site.
Pope Francis prayed in that chapel during his visit. He also canonized two of the three children who received the visions of Our Lady of Fátima.
One of those new saints, St. Jacinta, was asked once what the Blessed Mother’s most important message to them was. She answered: “That we should pray the rosary every day.”
Full story at Angelus.