Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Your Rosary and You (aka "There's Something About Mary...")


Doubtless there have been too many Catholics to count who have used that title or a clever play on it in the seven years that have passed since the movie first came out, but its a good one nonetheless. My esteemed colleague, fj, shall continue with news rants. I, in the mean time, would like to do something a little more relaxed. As C.S. Lewis pointed out at the beginning of his quite good work Reflections on the Psalms, "A man can't be always defending the truth; there must be a time to feed on it."

I like the Rosary. A lot. A whole lot . Most definitely a big fan, advocate, and practitioner of the "Rosary a day" concept. In his apostolic letter "Rosarium Virginis Mariae", John Paul II, (perhaps soon enough "the Great") said that "with the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love." Amen to that, Holy Father.

In each of the mysteries, we see a new aspect of the Gospels, and can approach this aspect in a number of different ways. For example, in my latest round of mysteries, I have been focusing on the role of love and charity in them. In the round before that, I contemplated the parallels between my priestly vocation, before that humility, before that graces, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

The focus of the Joyful mysteries is almost entirely on Mary (or so my experience has shown me). The Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Nativity, the Presentation, the Finding in the Temple, we are definitely looking at the firstfruits of Christ's ministry from a Marian P.O.V. Definitely a "must pray" for anyone who is considering a major lifestyle change or facing a major decision.

In the Sorrowful mysteries, the focus is obviously on the Passion, but I always see an additional emphasis, that of Christ's humanity. Particularly striking for me is the Agony in the Garden. Even when not saying the Rosary, it is good to think back on that section whenever there are troubles in one's prayer life. Vividly real for me is Jesus, nervous and a bit anxious about what is to come, praying fervently, stumbling over his prayers to his Father. What we do in our moments of despair and fear tell quite a bit about us, and our priorities. When you cling to God so fully and so faithfully, He will become the person you instinctively turn to. Great to contemplate during times of trouble, or in memory of those departed. Not to mention the Easter triduum.

The glorious mysteries really put the "triumph" into "Chruch triumphant". If the Sorrowful mysteries help us to see the human aspect of Christ, the Glorious mysteries help us to see the Divine aspect of His Church. The relation between the Sorrowful and the Glorious mysteries is unique among the four sets. The Glorious mysteries are very much the "follow through" to the Sorrowful. One thought, actually, would be to pray the Sorrowful in the morning, and then the Glorious in the afternoon or evening. The Sorrowful mysteries remind us that in times of trouble, we should turn always to God before all else, and the Glorious mysteries remind us why. Here is seen the reward of the faithful, not the least of which is the crowning of the B.V.M. as Queen of Heaven, and the love of Christ for His Church in the sending of the Holy Spirit. Best said after reading anything by (Episcopal) Bishop John Shelby Spong, Sr. Joan Chittester, et al.

In the Luminous mysteries, the sacerdotal Christ comes out the most. This morning was actually the first time I got to "test drive" the Luminous mysteries, and I must say, its "good bull", as they say in Aggieland. Between the institution of two sacraments (Baptism and Eucharist), the start of His public ministry at Cana (with a crackerjack dialouge between Jesus and Mary that amuses me every time I read it), the kick-off to the Sermon on the Mount, and the firm establishment of Christ as a prophet (during the transfiguration, for you neophytes), all the major highlights (no pun intended) of His public ministry are covered here. I'd recommend it for Sundays in general, or if you are about to do any sort of public speaking on behalf of the Church (even a simple talk for catechumens at RCIA).

Another good way to pray the Rosary, if you aren't feeling too "mysterious" at the moment would be to say a decade, and between each decade, read a pre-selected section of Holy Scripture, it can be Old Testament or New, as long or as short as you want. After reading it initially, go back and meditate on what you have read. Really give the Scriptures a chance to speak to you. This is God's inspired message to the faithful for their guidance. If you want to hear what the Lord has to say to you, this would perhaps be one of the easiest ways to go about it.


Of all the wonderful ways that God and His Church provide for us to give ourselves to Him in prayer, the Rosary is certainly the most famous, even coming into practice in Protestant circles, and with good reason. The repetitive nature of the decades set up an ideal state of mind for contemplation and meditation on God, the mysteries, Scripture, or just about anything your little heart desires. So kick back, enjoy your Rosary, and spend a little time with mom and Pop.

+Ad Majorem Dei Gloram+
"One does not read in the Gospel that the Lord said: ‘I will send you the Paraclete who will teach you about the course of the sun and moon.’ For he willed to make them Christians, not mathematicians."
-St. Augustine


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