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 are 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.