St. John Vianey carried one in his hand at all times…Saint Padre Pio called it our best weapon…The Virgin at
Lourdes, Fatima and Guadalupe, called the children to pray it and spread the devotion….We are, of course, talking about the Rosary.
This past week the Pope John Paul II, who has commended his papacy to the Virgin Mary (his motto, "Totus
Tuus," means "totally yours," referring to Mary), released an Apostolic Letter, "On the Most Holy Rosary." This week and next week
we will publish excerpts …
Mary Leads us To Jesus
"The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the
Spirit of God, 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, which, after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginnings
and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to 'set out into the deep' in order once more to proclaim, and even cry out, before the world
that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior, 'the way, and the truth and the life' (Jn 14:6), (#1). +Mary leads us to Jesus; the Rosary
leads us more deeply to Him. Realizing this, how can I pray the Rosary more?
The Rosary Helps Deepen Our Prayer
"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. It is an echo of
the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the
Rosary, the Christian people sit at the school of Mary and are led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience
the depths of His love." (#2)...+Contemplating Christ will help me do all things.
"To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ… I therefore
proclaim the year October 2002 to 2003 the Year of the Rosary" (#3)…+How can I make this year different regarding Mary? Do I have a
Rosary? , carry it with me?, use it?, pray it lovingly?
False Notions of the Rosary Corrected
There is an "urgent need to counter a certain crisis of the Rosary, which in the present historical and
theological context can risk being wrongly devalued, and therefore no longer taught to the younger generation. Yet, as Pope Paul VI
made clear, not only does this prayer not conflict with the Liturgy, it sustains it, since it serves as an excellent introduction
and a faithful echo of the Liturgy, enabling people to participate fully and interiorly in it and to reap its fruits in their daily
lives…when the Mother is honored, the Son…is duly known, loved and glorified. If properly revitalized, the Rosary is an aid to
ecumenism" (#4)...+Meditating upon the Rosary--deeply, longingly, consistently-as did the saints-- will help me in the Mass and also
with other Christians.
The Rosary as Help to Peace
"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. 'What is needed
is a Christian life distinguished above all in the art of prayer' " (#5). +Do I cultivate my prayer life-is it more important than
sports, school, and work?
"The Rosary has many times been proposed by my predecessors and myself as a prayer for peace. A similar need
for commitment and prayer arises in relation to another critical contemporary issue: the family. The revival of the Rosary in
Christian families, within the context of a broader pastoral ministry to the family, will be an effective aid to countering the
devastating effects of this crisis typical of our age" (#6)…+In this world of violence and possible war, will I pray the Rosary for
peace and reconciliation?
Deepening Love as Releasing Sacred Desire
"The contemplation of Christ has an incomparable model in Mary. No one has ever devoted himself to the
contemplation of the face of Christ as faithfully as Mary… Mary constantly sets before the faithful the 'mysteries' of her Son, with
the desire that the contemplation of those mysteries will release all their saving power (#10). +How can I cultivate a more daily
and deep relationship to Mary?
"The Rosary precisely because it starts with Mary's own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative prayer.
Without this contemplative dimension, it would lose its meaning, as Pope Paul VI clearly pointed out: 'Without contemplation, the
Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas, in violation of
the admonition of Christ.'" (#12)…+ Allow the sacred words and rhythm of the Rosary to bring you peace.
"The Rosary, in its own particular way, is part of this varied panorama of 'ceaseless' prayer. By immersing
us in the mysteries of the Redeemer's life, it ensures that what He has done and what the liturgy makes present is profoundly
assimilated and shapes our existence.(#13)… 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" (#14)…+Notice the emphasis on contemplation-which means
to pull together pieces-templates-which are apart. Is your mind split form your heart, your soul from body? Slow down with Mary.
Mary as "Our Mother"
"In the spiritual journey of the Rosary, based on the constant contemplation-in Mary's company ---of the
face of Christ, this demanding ideal of being conformed to him is pursued through an association which could be described in terms
of friendship. We are thereby enabled to enter naturally into Christ's life and as it were to share His deepest feelings. As such,
she continually brings to birth children for the mystical Body of her Son. She does so through her intercession, imploring upon them
the inexhaustible outpouring of the Spirit. Mary is the perfect icon of the Motherhood of the Church" (#15). +Mary is our Mother in
Heaven-let us be contemplatives-people of deep prayer and rich interior lives--like her!
"If Jesus, the one Mediator, is the Way of our prayer, then Mary, his purest and most transparent
reflection, shows us the Way" (#16). +Become transparent to God's graces with the Virgin's help-there is not better example.… "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" (#17). +How can I discipline and deepen my prayer with Mary's?
New Mysteries of the Rosary
"We would go further and say that the succession of Hail Marys constitutes the warp on which is woven the
contemplation of the mysteries. The Jesus that each Hail Mary recalls is the same Jesus whom the succession of mysteries proposes to
us now as the Son of God, now as the Son of the Virgin" (#18). +By repeating prayers I will either grow weary or more holy.
"…individuals and communities could broaden it (the Rosary) to include the mysteries of Christ's public
ministry between His Baptism and His Passion. …the mystery of Christ is most evidently a mystery of light" (#19). +The Pope's new
gift-memorize the new Mysteries below.
"…our contemplation brings us to those mysteries which may be called in a special way 'mysteries of light'.
Each of these mysteries is a revelation of the Kingdom now present in the very person of Jesus:
- The Baptism in the Jordan;
- Jesus proclaims the coming of the Kingdom of God;
- The institution of the Eucharist---The revelation of God's love and the source of our salvation" (# 23)
With these beautiful new Mysteries, how can I embrace His Light with her-Mary's-help? ... Pray the Rosary!
Part II of: The
Year of the Rosary and Five New Mysteries
Visitors from Afar: In the last couple weeks we have received pilgrims from Senegal and the Congo (both
French speaking with sonorous singing), and from the Near East-Byzantine Rite Catholics (icons and smells and bells!). These groups
inspired us with their beautiful, instilling and inspiring music, worship, walking the Stations of the Cross and Holy Masses…We are
blessed to witness the love that people have for God and the Mother of God!
other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi