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The Daily Rosary

The Daily Rosary

“But the most important reason for strongly encouraging the practice of the Rosary is that it represents a most effective means of fostering among the faithful that commitment to the contemplation of the Christian mystery .. it is more urgent than ever that our Christian communities should become ‘genuine schools of prayer’. The Rosary belongs among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation.”

– St John Paul II, ‘Rosarium Virginis Mariae’

Saint John Paul was greatly concerned that our communities as Christians should be founded and nourished by prayer, to such an extent that they might become “genuine schools of prayer”.

His reasons for this were fairly straight-forward.

It is easy to become knowledgeable about the Catholic Faith – anyone can pick up a book and learn what it is we believe as Catholics. Equally, it is just as easy to pick up any theological book and learn something about God. But knowledge is not the same as Faith. Knowledge is something we gather – it is information about a particular subject, whether the subject is God or anything else. But Faith is something quite different to this.

First and foremost, Faith is a gift, given freely to us by God. He desires that we know Him and so love Him. It is not something we get but something we receive.

Secondly, Faith is not about knowledge – it is about relationship. It is about a real person – Jesus Christ. It is about getting to know Him on a deep, personal and intimate level.

In other words, Faith is a living thing. It is like a little plant, which we need to cultivate carefully, tending the soil, adding nutrients, watering the plant, so that it might gradually grow and develop and bear good fruit for us.

This Faith is nourished by the Word and by the Sacraments and by prayer; these are the primary means by which we come to know the Lord, Who reveals Himself to us by these means. In the Word, we begin to learn Who the Lord is, what He tells us about Himself, and about the Father. The Catechism tells us –

“Christ, the Son of God made man, is the Father’s one, perfect and unsurpassable Word. In Him He has said everything; there will be no other word than this one.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para.65)

And in the Sacraments, the same Lord comes to us – through the particular graces of several of the Sacraments of the Church, and uniting Himself directly to us in the greatest Sacrament of all, Holy Communion, which the Church tells us is the “source and summit of the Christian life” (‘Lumen Gentium’, quoted in the Catechism, para.1324).

Prayer is the bridge that connects God and man, the human and the divine. Prayer is the opening of our hearts to God and to the action of His divine grace, and to His divine mercy. Prayer, which may seem like our approach to God, is actually our response to His approach to us.

Pope John Paul tells us that –

“Mary lived with her eyes fixed on Christ, treasuring his every word: “She kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19; cf. 2:51). The memories of Jesus, impressed upon Her Heart, were always with Her, leading Her to reflect on the various moments of Her life at Her Son’s side. In a way those memories were to be the “rosary” which She recited uninterruptedly throughout Her earthly life.” (Rosarium, para.11)

The Holy Father then encourages us to imitate this contemplative quality of the Immaculate Heart of Mary –

“The Rosary, precisely because it starts with Mary’s own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative prayer.” (Rosarium, para.12)

Explaining what he means by this, Pope John Paul goes on to say that –

“Mary’s contemplation is above all a remembering. We need to understand this word in the biblical sense of remembrance (zakar) as a making present of the works brought about by God in the history of salvation.”

Our own contemplation, then, is also this same type of remembering – we are making present in our hearts all the works and actions and revelations of God, and in remembering them in this way, we are giving thanks to God for them. Applying this sense to the prayer of the Rosary, the Holy Father goes on to add this –

“Contemplating the scenes of the Rosary in union with Mary is a means of learning from Her to ‘read’ Christ, to discover His secrets and to understand His message. This school of Mary is all the more effective if we consider that She teaches by obtaining for us in abundance the gifts of the Holy Spirit, even as She offers us the incomparable example of Her own ‘pilgrimage of faith’.” (Rosarium, para.14)

If Faith is about knowing God, about developing a deep and meaningful relationship with Him, then the Holy Father has proposed to us a most excellent means of doing so – the prayer of the Rosary; there, with Mary, we remember the works of the Lord in our contemplation; we make them present in our hearts and learn from them, following Our Lady’s own example.

All of this, we do in union with Mary –

“If Jesus, the one Mediator, is the Way of our prayer, then Mary, His purest and most transparent reflection, shows us the Way. ‘Beginning with Mary’s unique cooperation with the working of the Holy Spirit, the Churches developed their prayer to the Holy Mother of God, centering it on the person of Christ manifested in His mysteries’. At the wedding of Cana the Gospel clearly shows the power of Mary’s intercession as She makes known to Jesus the needs of others: ‘They have no wine’ (Jn 2:3).” (Rosarium, para.16)

And so, remembering Christ with Mary, we are then led a step further –

“The Rosary is also a path of proclamation and increasing knowledge, in which the mystery of Christ is presented again and again at different levels of the Christian experience. Its form is that of a prayerful and contemplative presentation, capable of forming Christians according to the heart of Christ.. Our Lady of the Rosary continues Her work of proclaiming Christ.” (Rosarium, para.17)

If the prayerful recitation of the holy Rosary can achieve all these things, then truly it is capable of forming us into those ‘genuine schools of prayer’ to which Pope John Paul referred.

Imagine, then, how powerful that prayer might be if prayed every single daily and if prayed in our local communities – our families and our Churches.

Throughout this month of October, the Church can consistently asked us to pray the holy Rosary – and many will have responded to this noble call. It is not a new call – for centuries, the Church has asked us to take up our beads and to pray, particularly for special intentions in the Church and in the world as they have arisen and as they have threatened the peace of the world.

At Lourdes, the appearances of the Blessed Virgin began with the recitation of the Rosary and continued with it, and even now, so many years later, there are constant Rosary processions through the Grotto.

And at Fatima, the Mother of God asked over and over again that we “pray the Rosary every day”.

Let us take up our beads and respond wholeheartedly to Her heavenly call.

 

In Prayer With Mary

In Prayer With Mary

“The Rosary of the Virgin Mary.. is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life..”

– St John Paul II, ‘Rosarium Virginis Mariae’

There is something exquisitely beautiful about giving to the Blessed Virgin Mary a little time each evening dedicated to prayer in Her honour – and in particular, the prayer of the holy Rosary.

In these moments, there is a profound sense of internal peace, for She is the Queen of Peace. The cares and worries of the day are put to the side for just a little while, so that the mind and the will can focus on what is truly important – prayer, that moment of deep connection between the human and the divine, between the creature and the Creator.

Also in these moments, there is the joyful consolation of knowing that those prayers are rising to Heaven and are being heard; how and when God responds is a matter for Him alone, and that requires trust on the part of the one who prays, but the very practice of prayer encourages this sense of deep trust and is itself a sign that this trust already exits to some degree. Further, there is conviction that the Blessed Virgin is also hearing those prayers and, in Heaven, is presenting them to the Lord.

The construction of the Rosary establishes the space and peace necessary to do all this – the long familiarity of the vocal prayers allows the wandering mind to focus on something that is both known and loved, while the deepest parts of the person are then given over to the ‘soul’ of the Rosary – the meditation upon the Mysteries.

Now, you might imagine that with only twenty Mysteries upon which to meditate, the potential for real prayerful meditation is fairly limited. And yet, nothing could be further from the truth. Those Mysteries contain the fullness of the Gospel itself and so there is an abundance of material from which to draw profitably. This well is deep and it’s waters will never run dry; those waters are cool and constantly refreshing, reviving the drooping spirit.

At the affective level, there is joy in knowing that by praying the Rosary, the soul is offering to the Mother of God that very prayer which She constantly asks us to pray, the same prayer the Church repeatedly and consistently recommends to us, the one so beloved of the Saints, as Pope John Paul reminded us. And to pray it well, we need neither great intelligence nor a broad theological outlook, for it is the prayer of the simple man and woman. All we need is the desire to pray it well – the Blessed Virgin will then take care of the rest, so long as we have confidence in Her and leave it all in Her hands. She will obtain for us a measure of the graces which this beautiful prayer contains within itself.

All of this may sound delightful to read, but the real delight comes in experiencing what is described here so poorly; as they say, prayer brings it’s own rewards. It is in the act of praying that it really comes to life, like a little spark winnowed until it is a blazing fire.

Try it. Experience it for yourself.

 

A Eucharistic Rosary

A Eucharistic Rosary

“The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium.”

–  ‘Rosarium Virginis Mariae’, St John Paul II, 2002

The Church tells us that the Eucharist is the ‘source and summit of the Christian life’ (cf. Lumen Gentium, para.11) and it is here, before the Blessed Sacrament, that we so often pray, recommending to the Lord all those intentions which occupy our hearts. One of the prayers we commonly offer to the Lord is the recitation of the holy Rosary, the prayer so beloved of the Church and so greatly recommended to us by her – and also by the Mother of God, who constantly asks us to pray Her Rosary.

I wondered, then, if it might be possible to develop a set of Rosary meditations which take the Eucharist as their overall theme, looking at various aspects of this Sacrament of the Lord’s abiding presence amongst, us as we contemplate each of the Mysteries. I hope the following Meditations might be useful to you.

The First Joyful Mystery – the Annunciation

At the Incarnation, the Blessed Virgin consented to become the Mother of God; in this moment, ‘the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us’. In each Holy Communion, it is the very same Lord we receive, present in His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.

Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of His Mother, for the grace of a true Faith – a Faith which enables us to to submit ourseles to His will for us, as Mary did.

The Second Joyful Mystery – the Visitation

When Mary visited Elizabeth, She bore the Christ Child within Her womb; Elizabeth perceived His divine presence and praised Him, giving glory to God. Mary, too, offered praise to God in the prayer of Her Magnificat.

At the end of each Mass we take part in, we are sent out to the world bearing Christ within us in the Eucharist; may those around us perceive His presence in our lives.

The Third Joyful Mystery – the Birth of Jesus

The Child lying in the manger drew others to Him, that they might worship Him, while Angels praised Him. In a similar way, He draws us to the new Manger of the Tabernacle, where we come before Him – like the Shepherds – in silent adoration.

As we kneel silently before the Eucharistic Lord, let us ask Him to fill us with His joy and His peace, those gifts which He alone can bestow and which surpass all human understanding.

The Fourth Joyful Mystery – the Presentation in the Temple

Fulfiling the requirements of the Law, the Blessed Virgin brought Her Child to the Temple – there, recognising the Child, Simeon gave thanks for seeing the One who brings salvation to His people.

 Let us always take care to recognise the Divine Guest coming to us in each Holy Communion, and never fail to prepare our souls to receive Him, nor to give thanks for His visit to us in the Eucharist.

The Fifth Joyful Mystery – the Finding of Jesus in the Temple

 The Heart of the Blessed Virgin was filled with great joy at finding Her Son in the Temple, where He was sitting amongst the scholars and teaching them, such that they were amazed at His wisdom.

May we never fail to give thanks for the Church, where we – like Mary – will always find Jesus in the Eucharist. Kneeling at His feet, let us ask Him to teach us through the authentic voice of the Church, His Mystical Body on earth.

 

The First Sorrowful Mystery – the Agony in the Garden

How often do we, like the Disciples that Maundy Thursday, promise the Lord much, yet deliver little; in numerous little ways, we abandon Him in His agony and leave Him alone to suffer on our behalf.

Let us ask the Lord to grant us faithfulness in remaining close to Him always; and, when our need is great, to turn immediately to Him in prayer, following His own example in that Garden.

The Second Sorrowful Mystery – the Scourging at the Pillar

Tied to that pillar, the Lord silently and willingly endured the scourging of His Body. Today, many tear at the Body of Christ which is the Church. Many others tear at His Eucharistic Body through sacrilege and indifference.

Let us offer the sufferings of the Church in union with those of the Passion, and ask the Lord for mercy for us and for the whole world. And in each Holy Communion, let us make reparation for so much indifference.

The Third Sorrowful Mystery – the Crowning with Thorns

Abused, reviled, crowned now with thorns. And yet He remains silent, saying nothing to defend Himself. Similarly, in the Eucharist, He maintains that silence even now. Meek and humble, His Presence is enough.

Let us ask the Lord for the grace to let go of our pride and our ego, our sense of ‘self above all’, and our desire to defend our rights, our reputation, as we see them. Let us ask Him for the grace of interior silence.

The Fourth Sorrowful Mystery – Jesus Carries His Cross

The price of our sins bearing down upon Him, three times He falls under the weight of the Cross whilst carrying it to Golgotha. Looking up, He sees the face of His Mother, Her presence nearby strengthening Him.

Before the Tabernacle, let us think of our own crosses of whatever sort in life; and in those moments in His Eucharistic Presence, let us ask Him for His own strength, and the help of His Mother.

The Fifth Sorrowful Mystery – the Crucifixion

Each Holy Mass is a re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Golgotha, of the Death of the Lord upon the Cross. Each Holy Communion is His own Body, broken for us, His own Blood, poured out for us.

As we receive Him in Holy Communion, let us remember that had we been the only person ever created, still He would have undergone His Passion for love of us; let us thank Him for this infinite love for each one of us.

 

The First Glorious Mystery – the Resurrection

We are an Easter people. Jesus is risen from the dead. His Sacred Heart beats once again, a new and eternal heartbeat which will never end. He is the Victor, He has conquered both sin and death.

In the Eucharist, His Heart beats constantly for love of us, and receiving Him in Holy Communion, His divine grace helps us to be victorious in the great battles of life until we are with Him forever in Heaven.

The Second Glorious Mystery – the Ascension

His earthly mission complete, the Lord ascends to the Father. Consider the sense of loss of the Apostles in that moment, contemplating their lives without Him now that He is gone from them.

Like the Apostles on that day, we have the promise of the Lord that ‘I will be with you always, until the end of time’. And here, in the Tabernacle of every Catholic Church, He keeps that promise.

The Third Glorious Mystery – the Descent of the Holy Spirit

As He promised, the Lord sent the Holy Spirit down upon the Apostles, gathered in the Cenacle with His Mother, all united in constant prayer. The Holy Spirit transformed them and the Church was born that day.

Let us thank the Lord for the gift of His Church, and for being part of her. It is through the Church and her Priests that we have the Blessed Sacrament; let us pray for them and give thanks for them.

The Fourth Glorious Mystery – the Assumption of Mary, Body and Soul, Into Heaven

No unpure thing can enter Heaven. Mary, ever Immaculate, was assumed there immediately at the completion of Her earthly life, both body and soul, to the joy of all the Angels and Saints.

In each Holy Communion, we are gradually made ever more ready to enter Heaven and to spend eternity there, in the Presence of the Lamb, in the new and eternal Jerusalem, with Mary and the entire heavenly court.

The Fifth Glorious Mystery – the Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven

In life and now in eternity, the Blessed Virgin looks upon the Face of Her Son in adoration, praising Him endlessly and praying for Her children still on earth, and for the Church, whose Queen She is.

Let us thank the Lord for the great grace to be able to spend moments in His Eucharistic Presence, adoring Him there. These moments are a foretaste of Heaven itself, and a infinite treasure house of great grace and mercy.

The Power Of This Prayer

The Power Of This Prayer

“The Church has always attributed particular efficacy to this prayer, entrusting to the Rosary, to it’s choral recitation and to it’s constant practice, the most difficult problems. At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, it’s deliverance was attributed to the power of this prayer, and Our Lady of the Rosary was acclaimed as the one whose intercession brought salvation.”

– Pope John Paul II, ‘Rosarium Virginis Mariae’

The story is told of a young businessman travelling on a train. In his train cabin, there was an elderly gentleman, gently moving the beads of his Rosary through his fingers as he quietly prayed. The younger man was horrified that in the Age of Reason, such superstition was still to be seen. He chided the elderly man, telling him that science had made religion outdated and unneccessary. “Really?”, asked the older man, “and how did you come to learn that?”. The younger of the two was not properly able to answer his travelling companion, but suggested that he might send the elder man some reading material later, once home. The older man smiled. The younger man asked for an address to which he could send the material promised, and the elder gentleman, Rosary still in his hand, took a business card from the pocket of his overcoat. His companion read the name inscribed upon it – ‘Louis Pasteur, Paris Institute of Scientific Research’.

We tend to see things in a very short-sighted way; we often believe (quite erroneously,of course) that we have suddenly come upon the answers to all the great questions of life, that our opinion trumps the wisdom of the ages; in short, that we know best. Believing this is almost always a sign that we are in error.

The Church, on the other hand, tends to take a much longer look at things, and she sees situations, events, currents and trends, with the wisdom she has accumulated over the last two millenia – ably assisted, of course, by the light and grace of the Holy Spirit.

For a very long time now, and in a perfectly consistent manner, the Church has continusouly recommended to us the prayer of the Rosary – a seemingly simple but deeply profound prayer; one suited to all the situations of life, encompassing as it does the various joys, sorrows and glories of the Lord and His Mother. The prayer of the Rosary is also enormlously powerful – powerful enough to secure victory in temporal matters, powerful enough to prevent and to shorten wars, and powerful enough to touch the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to whom the prayers are addressed, asking Her, in turn, to touch the Heart of Her Son on our behalf.

The Rosary is also the prayer which She Herself continually asks us to pray – it is, therefore, within the grasp of all, rich or poor, simple person of faith or great theologian, Priest or lay-person, adult or child.

Knowing this, then, how could we refuse to meet Her request?

 

A Beautiful Monotony

A Beautiful Monotony

Image: ‘The Annunciation’ by Frederick James Shields

‘Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!’ No creature has ever said anything that was more pleasing to Me, nor will anyone ever be able to find or say to Me anything that pleases Me more.”

– Our Blessed Lady to Saint Mechtilde

Anyone who has ever been in love will have experienced that moment when the heart feels the urge to say ‘I love you’ to the beloved – and to say it not only once, but over and over again. It is as though saying the words makes the love real; and the reality of the love invites the vocalisation of the words. The words are repeated many times – and meant completely on every occasion. Each time, they are new and vital, even if they have been said a thousand times before. Repetition does not diminish nor devalue them. They issue forth from a heart filled with love.

In many senses, it is exactly the same with the Rosary.

St Josemaria Escriva described the praying of the Rosary as a “blessed monotony of Hail Marys” – by this, he meant that what seems so simple on the surface, actually expresses something so deep; the very words contain the depth of our love.

St Pio of Pietrelcina had not hesitation in recommending souls to pray this heavenly prayer – “Go to the Madonna. Love her! Always say the Rosary. Say it well. Say it as often as you can! Be souls of prayer. Never tire of praying, it is what is essential”. 

A soul cannot properly and authentically claim to love the Blessed Virgin if it does not do the single thing She requests of us time and time again – “pray the Rosary every day”.

When we love, we give the beloved our time, both freely and willingly, never counting the cost. To pray the Rosary takes only thirty minutes of our day – very little in a day of twenty four hours. Love changes our perception, too – what may at first seem to be something of a labour, seems to become a moment of joy, a moment we often wish could last forever. Those thirty minutes become the sweetest of the entire day, the moment we look forward to most of all.

As times passes, we come to realise that our time spent praying the Rosary is a moment of great peace and tranquility, no matter the turmoil, strife or anxiety that may exist outwith those moments. The reason for this is very simple – in praying the Rosary, we are spending time in the company of the Mother of God. We may neither see nor hear Her, but She is there regardless of that, and Her motherly eyes ar upon us throughout as we recommend ourselves to Her in the praying of our beads. 

Our Rosary will bring us ever closer to the Virgin – and She, in turn, will do as She always does; bring us ever closer to Her Divine Son. For She is never the destination, but the road that leads there; not the goal, but the compass pointing the way.

Pope St John XXIII said “The Rosary is a school for learning true Christian perfection” – and our teacher is the most perfect of all, for it is the Mother of the Lord, She who taught the Divine Redeemer in His sacred humanity as He grew from childhood to manhood.

Like most valuable lessons, this one – of ‘true Christian perfection’ – takes time and it takes perseverance. We do not value what we gain too easily, and so it is good to pray over and over for our needs and our intentions. And this is the beauty of the Rosary – we can take up our beads over and over again, praying vocally whilst we meditate interiorly on the Mysteries we proclaim, going ever deeper into the pool of heavenly water. And in doing so, we imitate the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who “treasured all these things and pondered them in Her Heart” (cf.Lk.2:51).

Dearest Mother, Queen of the Holy Rosary, let us sit quietly at Your feet, and there, in Your own school of holiness, may You teach us the mysteries of the life of Your Son, Our Lord.

 

Walk With Mary

Walk With Mary

“The Rosary is the weapon!”
– Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

Life is truly a constant spiritual battle against our three prevailing enemies – the self, the devil and the world. Thankfully, Christ the Lord has already won the war, even if we still must fight patiently our own battles until the end of our days. In His great generosity and compassion, the Lord sends us His own Mother to stand along with us in every moment of this spiritual warfare, to be a Mother to us in the order of grace, as She is to Him in the order of nature. This is Her duty, given Her at the foot of the Cross, and She fulfils it perfectly even now, in Heaven.

Ever faithful to Her task, the Blessed Virgin offers us numerous ways of vanquishing these three great enemies which pursue us during life, so that we may remain faithful to Her Son and be with Him in eternity. Examples of this are Her many approved appearances at various points in human history, and also the great Sacramentals which She gives us, and which are approved and encouraged by the Church, such as the Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel and the Miraculous Medal.

But greatest amongst all the Marian Sacramentals is the holy Rosary. It has constantly received great approbation from the Church and has the fullest recommendation from the Saints, who have always found it to be a marvellous vessel of grace in attaining true sanctity of life and holiness in death.

The beauty of the Rosary is it’s simplicity – anyone can pray the Rosary, comprised as it is of the three great prayers of our Faith; the prayer of the Lord Himself in the ‘Our Father’; the Angelic salutation and lovesong of God for the Blessed Virgin, in the ‘Hail Mary’; and the praise of the Triune God in the ‘Glory Be’.

These three prayers, of course, are the ‘body’ of the Rosary – to truly bring it to life and enjoy it’s power, it requires a ‘soul’; this soul is the meditation which accompanies the vocal prayers. In this meditation, our hearts, minds, senses, will and soul are lifted up to God.

There are many ways of meditating upon the Mysteries of the Rosary, such as the Scriptural Rosary given here previously. There are also a great many books and pamphlets available to buy and online, many of which are very salutary, often offering slightly different methods. Many of the Saints espoused a particular form of meditation for praying the Rosary, so there are plenty to choose from.

Ultimately, what really matters is simply to take up the beads and to actually pray the Rosary, engaging your entire person in this prayer which is so incredibly powerful, meditating as fully as you can on it’s Mysteries and the divine treasures contained within them.

Prayer, as they say, brings it’s own rewards – and it is in persevering in the praying of the Rosary that we will, over time, come to know it’s true power and what God achieves through it’s recitation.

Today, then, why not look out that Rosary that may be in a drawer or purse or pocket, and go somewhere quiet and use those beads for the purpose for which they are intended – that is, to become a spiritual ladder that will lift your soul up to the Lord, with His own Mother at your side.

Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, teach us to pray.