October & the Rosary

Hands praying the rosaryIn a cold cave in a Palestinian backwater, she cradled her newborn. After a long, hard journey, despite the strain of a first and unexpected pregnancy, she joyfully welcomed the child Messiah. In creating a cradle for God, the circle of her arms changed this lost, sorrowful world forever.

Years later, on that horrible Friday, she stood by her son in the final moments of his agony. Betrayed and abandoned by his friends, abused and condemned for daring to speak of a loving God, he was hung on a tree. Mary of Nazareth completed the journey with her son to the bitter end. Before the body was consigned to a cave, she cradled his broken body one last time.

The mother of God becomes the daughter of God. The God she welcomed into the world now welcomes her into His. The Christ who held her hand as a boy now takes her hand and leads her to the dwelling place of His Father. Her son, her lullaby that rocked the Christ child to sleep, the lullaby she whispered as she said goodbye, now comforts this confused, lost, angry world. She who gave life to the Christ child is now reborn in Christ’s resurrection.

I believe the prayer you just read, freely composed by Caryll Houselander, speaks of the mystery of the devotion the Church invites us to pray during the month of October, the rosary.

Why is October dedicated to the rosary? Primarily due to the fact that the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated on October 7. This year that Memorial will not be publicly observed because it happens to fall on a Sunday. Whenever that happens, the Sunday celebration, this year being the Twenty-seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, is publicly observed.

Saint John Paul II, in his 2002 letter On the Most Holy Rosary, described the rosary as an “exquisitely contemplative prayer.” It starts with Mary’s human experience, and it encourages us to learn from our own. Another insight this well-known saint offered is that “each mystery of the Rosary, carefully meditated, sheds light on the mystery of man” and our pursuit of holiness.

In the Joyful Mysteries, contemplating Christ’s birth, we learn the sanctity of life; contemplating the household of Nazareth, we learn the original truth of family by God’s plan. The mysteries are the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation, and the Find of the child Jesus in the Temple.

According to the Mysteries of Luminous Mysteries, listening to the Master’s public teachings, we are enlightened to enter the Kingdom of God. The mysteries are the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordon, the Wedding at Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, the Transfiguration, and the Institution of the Eucharist.

In the Sorrowful Mysteries, following Christ to Calvary, we learn the meaning of salvific suffering. The mysteries are the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crowning with Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross, and the Crucifixion.

And according to the Glorious Mysteries, contemplating Christ and Mary in glory, we see the good toward which we are called if we allow ourselves to be healed and transformed by the Holy Spirit. The mysteries are the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Assumption, and the Coronation of Mary.

During the Year of Faith, Pope Francis spoke of praying the Rosary and Divine Mercy Chaplet every day as “spiritual medicine for heart, soul, and whole of life.” During his Sunday Angelus on November 17, 2013, he distributed 20,000 boxes containing a rosary, a Divine Mercy holy card and medical-style instruction sheet.

As the boxes where distributed, here is what Francis said to those gathered in Saint Peter’s Square. “I would like, now, for all of you to consider a medicine. But some may think, ‘the Pope is being a pharmacist now?’ It is a special medicine to make the fruit of the Year of Faith that is coming to a close more concrete in your daily life. This little box contains that medicine, and some volunteers will distribute it to you as you leave the square. Take it! It’s a rosary with which one can pray also the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. It is spiritual help for our souls and for spreading love, forgiveness and brotherhood everywhere. Don’t forget to take it. Because it does good. It does good for the heart, for the soul, for all of life. Please, take it and pray it!”

Last week Pope Francis again spoke about the rosary and invited all of the faithful, all of the world, “to pray the Rosary every day during the entire Marian month of October. Pray that the Holy Mother of God place the Church under her protective mantle: to preserve her from the attacks by the devil, the great accuser, and at the same time to make her more aware of the faults, the errors and the abuses committed in the present and in the past, and committed to combating without any hesitation, so that evil may not prevail.”

Francis asked that at we conclude the praying the rosary with the ancient invocation “Sub Tuum Praesidium” – which is recited as follows: We fly to thy protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from the dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin. He has also asked that following that invocation, we conclude the devotion with the prayer written by Pope Leo XIII, the prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel: Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; may God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, case into hell Satan and all the evil spirits that prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Allow the month of October, which begins on Monday, to be a time of renewed growth in your appreciation of this great devotion, as well as means of putting the Church beneath the protective mantle of Mary. The contemplative praying of the rosary can result in a deeper understanding of ourselves and the marvelous blessings we have received. It’s spiritual medicine for heart, soul and whole of life.

I invite you to consider joining us during the month of October at Saint John Bosco as we pray the rosary on weekday mornings after the 7:30 am Mass. After Mass, those who would like to pray the rosary are invited to gather in the benches in front of the statue of the Blessed Mother and wait a good five minutes after Mass has ended to allow those who have to leave for their obligations to do so before beginning this meditation on the mysteries of our salvation. Anyone is welcome to come! Rosary, and aids for praying the rosary are available at the magazine rack in the church vestibule.

Here are some insights from the website of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on praying the rosary. Here is a wonderful version of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy in song.

Question – How has your perception of the rosary changed over the years?

October 3rd, 2018 |