Oct. 7: A MEDITATION ON THE FEAST OF OUR LADY OF THE HOLY ROSARY.
In the Middle Ages Christians greeted the Virgin Mary with the invocation Mystical Rose, the symbol of love and joy. As an expression of this affection her images were adorned with crowns or bouquets of roses called Rosarium in medieval Latin as they still are today. Whoever was unable to recite the one hundred and fifty Psalms of the Liturgy of the Hours each day would pray as many Hail Marys instead. The faithful used stones strung together by the decade or knots on a rope to keep count of each invocation. At the same time they would meditate on a particular aspect of Our Lord’s or Our Lady’s life.
The Hail Mary has long been amongst the richest prayers of the Church. Popes and Councils have frequently recommended it. The wording itself would acquire its final form with the addition of the petition for a happy death: Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. We beseech the Virgin’s help in each situation now, and at the climactic moment of our definitive meeting with Christ.
The mysteries focus on the central events in the life of Jesus and Mary. In a sense they are a summary of the liturgical year and of the whole Gospel. The prayers of the Litany that ensue are a song of love for the Blessed Mother. They are Marian praises, petitions for her help and manifestations of joy and exaltation before her virtue and power.
St Pius V attributed the Victory of Lepanto to the intercession of the Blessed Mother, since a grave threat to the Faith soon came to an end when Rome and the Christian world invoked her patronage through the Rosary. Today’s feast recalls the wonderful event. On the occasion of its institution, the petition to Our Lady Help of Christians was added to the Litany. From that moment on the Roman Pontiffs would encourage devotion to the Blessed Virgin with renewed fervour as public and universal prayer, for the ordinary and extraordinary needs of the universal Church and the nations of the entire world (John XXIII, Apostolic Letter Il religioso convegno, 29 September 1961).
The Church devotes the month of October to the Rosary in order to honour our Blessed Mother in a special way. Our love for this devotion should be constantly renewed. How is our contemplation of the various mysteries going? Do holy ambitions, such as the Christians had who prayed for victory at Lepanto, enter into our stream of praise and petition during the Rosary? Given our great need for help and our concern for the spiritual growth of our families, Our Lady’s presence is crucial. There are always the needs of the friends we do apostolate with to remember too. We need to bring constantly to mind: Today as in other times the Rosary must be a powerful weapon to enable us to win in our interior struggle and to help all souls (J. Escrivá, Holy Rosary, p.7).
In one way or another we always accompany the Blessed Virgin in the consideration of these mysteries so that the Rosary involves much more than the repetition of the Hail Mary. We divide the scenes into three groups – Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious – and so meditate on different aspects of the great mysteries of salvation including the Incarnation, the Redemption, and Resurrection (cf R. Garrigou-Lagrange, The Mother of the Saviour, p. 252). We make an effort to pray with love, perhaps adding a petition to each decade or every invocation so as to avoid routine. With attentive and thoughtful devotion we con template the mysteries. Pondering each one helps us foster true piety since each consideration gradually reveals to us the habitual dispositions of Christ and his Blessed Mother, in the presence of God the Father, with whom we can identify in our own behaviour. We rejoice as the events leading to our salvation unfold, and suffer compassionately with the Holy Family during their many trials. We look ahead with sure hope towards the final radiance and glorious victory of the risen Christ (cf Paul VI, Encyclical, Marialis cultus, 2 February 1974, 46). we can pause for a few seconds – three or four – in silent meditation to consider each mystery of the Rosary before reciting the Our Father and the Hail Marys of that decade (J. Escrivá, op. cit., p.254). In this way we can involve ourselves in the particular scene as one more person and imagine the manner of the daily activities of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph.
Through reflection on the lessons of the various scenes the Rosary becomes a conversation with Mary, leading to intimacy with her Son (R. Garrigou-Lagrange, op. cit., p.254). In the midst of our everyday concerns we can gain a keen familiarity with the truths of faith and at the same time practise recollection while at work or at our leisure. We thus become increasingly more cheerful and refine our relations with those around us. The life of Jesus and Mary becomes the love of our life as we learn to perceive their ordinary greatness in a deeper way. How true are the poet’s verses:
You who tire and are slow to pray,
Because the same words we always say,
Have little understanding what it is’ to be,
In love forever as I and she (cf A. Royo Marin, The Virgin Mary, Madrid 1968)
-Thumbnail courtesy of Rodolfo Reyes Jr.
OCT. 7, MASS PRAYERS OF OUR LADY OF THE HOLY ROSARY AND PROPER READINGS IN
THE ORIGIN AND THE REASON OF THE LITANY OF LORETO in
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