The feast of the Holy Rosary is a good time to reflect on this Christian prayer which is centuries old. Many people may have a rosary, but what about praying the rosary?
When we take a rosary in our hand we remember Mary, the mother of Jesus. “Hail Mary, full of grace,” we say, the same words the angel said when he came to her in Nazareth. And she comes to grace us now.
Mary believed the words the angel spoke at Nazareth and from that moment knew the One who came to her womb, who was conceived of her and the Holy Spirit and became her child, who left her to do great things for others, who was put to death on a cross and rose from the dead. Mary kept all these things in her heart. She shares them with us.
Mary knows the mysteries of God and she knows the ways of her Son. When we ask her to pray for us now, she does. She also reminds us of the mysteries of life, death and resurrection she knows so well. She knew them first through the joys and sorrows of faith. “How can this be?” she said more than once. She believed then, she helps us believe now.
Mary helps us to believe in the promises of Christ, her Son, who gives her to us as a mother. From her place at his side, she calls us to come to that feast beyond Cana, a feast of unending joy, where death is no more.
“Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
When you pray the rosary let Mary lead you into the mysteries of faith. It doesn’t matter if you know all the prayers or get them exactly right. The rosary is a flexible prayer. When Christmas comes around, there are the joyful mysteries when the angel came, when Mary visited Elizabeth, when the Child was born and she knew him as an infant. During Lent and Fridays through the year she leads us into those sorrowful mysteries that pierced her heart. At Easter and all the Sundays of year she shares the glory of the Risen Jesus and promises it can be ours.
The joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries are joined by the luminous mysteries, when Jesus was baptized and went to Cana in Galilee to bless a wedding feast to which the whole world was invited. He was transfigured on the mountain and taught patiently in the towns. He gave himself as bread to be broken and wine to be drunk.
Pope St. John Paul II called the rosary a “school of Mary.” She is a good teacher who intercedes for us with her Son.
Here’s St. Bernard speaking of her:
“The child to be born of you will be called holy, the Son of God, the fountain of wisdom, the Word of the Father on high. Through you, blessed Virgin, this Word will become flesh, so that even though, as he says: I am in the Father and the Father is in me, it is still true for him to say: ‘I came forth from God and am here.’
By nature incomprehensible and inaccessible, invisible and unthinkable, God wished to be understood, to be seen and thought of.
But how, you ask, was this done? He lay in a manger and rested on a virgin’s breast, preached on a mountain, and spent the night in prayer. He hung on a cross, grew pale in death, and roamed free among the dead and ruled over those in hell. He rose again on the third day, and showed the apostles the wounds of the nails, the signs of victory. Finally in their presence he ascended to the sanctuary of heaven.
Wisely meditate on these truths; rightly recall the abundant sweetness, given by the fruits of this priestly root. And Mary, drawing abundantly from heaven, will cause this sweetness to overflow for us.”