"The Rosary is a stairway to Heaven"said St. John Paul II, who prayed it so much and encouraged us to pray it. In the popular imagination this prayer seems destined only to old ladies who mumble it in the darkness of a church to pray for their relatives. But to think of men going out into the town to pray it, after an early start, in the middle of the weekend and without fear of human respect because those who contemplate the peculiar scene laugh, that does seem something impossible. Well, in the parish of San Agustín del Guadalix, a municipality north of Madrid with less than 15,000 inhabitants, it is something that happens with some frequency. It is not a punctual experience, it is something that has been done for years with constancy and with true piety and affection for the Virgin.
Early risers is a group of men who get together on the first Saturday of the month at 7:30 a.m. to pray the Rosary walking through the streets. Alberto Pascual is one of the happy members of this unusual adventure that is pouring so many blessings into the lives of those who take the opportunity to walk it: "I am very happy to be part of it.We gather at the door of the church to greet each other and to wake each other up. The one who arrives to the group for the first time is received in a special way by each of the members. We distribute the mysteries. Then we enter the Church to be in recollection in front of the Tabernacle. We begin by praying the Angelus and then we go out to the streets to pray the Rosary slowly.". The village is quietly dawning and few souls are on the streets: the weekend has just begun! That's why such a scene is so striking. Alberto proudly admits: "The people looked very surprised, because it is not usual to see thirty men praying Hail Marys and Our Fathers at that time of day. At the end we sang the Salve Regina and finished with a simple breakfast prepared by a member of the parish.".
Early risers consists of three moments: the prayer of the Rosary, a restorative breakfast and a talk on some formative point. This talk is prepared by a person who for fifteen minutes exposes the current topic, always trying to illuminate it with the Magisterium of the Church. When the presentation is finished, a colloquium begins in which everyone contributes their feelings on the topic. The group concludes at 9:30 a.m. and everyone goes home. Alberto insists that "the role of the priest is fundamental in moderating or correcting erroneous approaches, because it is a formative meeting and not a mere debate.".
Early risers was born years ago, in July 2013. "We had our first meeting by chance. A few of us men got together. There are about 60 people from the parish in the group, but not everyone always participates. There is a lot of freedom to attend.". Alberto tells me that once a year they have a get-together at the monastery of Silos, in Burgos. They spend the weekend there and strengthen their personal bonds of friendship and faith. They also make some cultural excursions. All very familiar in an atmosphere of faith. All very God-like.
This parishioner from San Agustín del Guadalix feels that he has been blessed with the prayer of the Rosary and tells me that members of this group belong to Schoenstatt and have made the covenant of love with the Blessed Mother for several years.Month after month, year after year, I have the feeling that this group was not formed by men but comes from God. The Holy Spirit in a mysterious way touches the hearts of those of us who are there, either because of what a companion says, or because of a mystery of the Rosary that marks you, or because of the atmosphere of affection that exists. It is a holy, special atmosphere. You can feel that God is in the midst.