A Shepherd's Message - Oct. 29, 2013
October 29, 2013
I write this article as the month of October is coming to an end — a month that is traditionally dedicated to the Mother of God and particularly to the Rosary.
The Year of Faith also is approaching its conclusion at the end of November.
I want to use this column to center on Mary, THE Woman of Faith and on the Rosary, which is a religious devotion that meditates on the truth and beauty of our faith through the disciple’s eyes of the Virgin Mary, the purest member of the Church and the leader of our prayer life in Christ.
My first point is that the Rosary, even though it has a “Marian” tonality and character, is a Christo-centric prayer because the Rosary is an unfolding of the Gospel. Its repetitive character is simple and unassuming, yet it gathers in strength and depth as each of the 20 mysteries of the Rosary, all dealing with our salvation in Christ and membership in His Body, the Church, is proclaimed, thought about, prayed over and internalized in the heart.
The more the Rosary is prayed, the greater is the cumulative effect of its contemplative power to know and to say “Jesus,” like His Mother would say His Name!
Put in another way, the Rosary is like an extended unfolding of Mary’s Magnificat, her song of praise, the unpacking of God’s promise of mercy in His well-beloved Son.
My second point is that the Rosary has been prayed for more than a thousand years by the great and small in the Church, by saints and even by sinners. The Rosary has been encouraged, even urged, by the leaders of the faith for centuries, for it blends easily into our spiritual journey of discipleship.
Amidst a great deal of noise in our culture, the quiet steady speaking of each “Hail, Mary” is a musical litany of praise and glory.
It is beautiful to hear of so many young people who have discovered the riches of meditation and contemplation today through the praying of the Rosary. Perhaps it can be rediscovered by some of their elders.
My third point concerns methods in prayer. People seek prayer today and techniques of meditation and calming the mind.
The Rosary is an already given intensely Christian and incarnational way of quieting the soul.
When praying the Rosary, we meditate on the principal events of our salvation, from the Annunciation of the Conception of Christ in the First Joyful Mystery to the Crowning of the Mother of God as Queen and Mother of the Church in the Fifth and Final Glorious Mystery.
Blessed John Paul II added five new “Luminous” Mysteries some years ago, all of them dealing with the public life of Jesus.
Taken together, the 20 mysteries of the Rosary are like praying the four Gospels in an intense “prayer consolidation!”
Method and content breathe together in the Rosary as our breathing and speech are calmed to allow a focus of the soul on the Lord. Our verbal initiatives in a litany like repetition draw us into a presence, THE presence of the Lord.
My fourth point about the Rosary concerns its ability to immerse us personally, in the inner room of our individual house of prayer, in letting the Holy Spirit take charge of our hearts. There, with Mary, we learn to say that “we are handmaids of the Lord; let it be done to us according to Your word.”
Sisters and brothers, my final point is simple. Pray the Rosary! †