· How did you brothers do with praying the Examen which was one of the challenges from the last time?
Before moving to the focus of my talk tonight on the Rosary, I want to briefly touch on the spiritual disciplines of Lent. Lent is a time of reflection and conversion. The Church invites us to enter into this time especially through three means: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. In terms of prayer we are called to increase or deepen our life of prayer as to grow deeper in our relationship with Christ. As I spoke about the last time a Catholic is called to be an intentional disciple: one who chooses to drop everything and radically follow Christ in the midst of his Church. In terms of fasting, we are called to die to our passions and pride through self-denial. We fast from things that are good in and of themselves such as food, media or drink. The problem is that sometimes we can make idols of them, meaning we give them too much pride of place to them, so we need to learn to die to them. In terms of almsgiving, the Church is calling us to not only be detached from our money by giving it away, but also through giving away our time in service.
Now to transition to speaking about the Rosary. Hopefully brothers you remember the promise of the first degree? What is it? To carry the Rosary everywhere and pray it as much as possible. One tradition states that it was given to St. Dominic by Our Lady in the year 1221 to fight a heresy that was rampant in the Church (Sri 2003, p. 35). Another tradition says that it came out of how the monasteries used to pray the 150 psalms and this was the way for a poor person who did not have a book of the psalms to pray along (Sri 2003, p. 35-36). The mysteries of Rosary also came from how the monks would associate different psalms with the life of Jesus and Mary (Sri 2003, p. 36-37). The Rosary really is a means appointed by Mary, our mother, to meditate on the mysteries of our salvation and impress them on our mind and heart (Leo XIII 8 September 1892, ¶14). If we recite the Rosary with faith it allows our family history, the history of salvation, to unfold before our eyes and help us to see their relevance to our lives today (Leo XIII 8 September 1892, ¶ 17). While we reflect on these truths with our minds we are also called to make resolutions to grow in virtue with God’s help with our hearts (Leo XIII 8 September 1892, ¶ 20). The Rosary should lead us to gratitude and wonder for all that Christ has done for us through His life, death and Resurrection as well as His holy mother (Leo XIII 8 September 1892, ¶ 7 &21). The rhythm of the Rosary can come to shape the rhythm of our daily lives (Sri 2003, p. 34).
We repeat the prayers to slow our minds and hearts so we can reflect on the different aspects of the life of Christ (Sri 2003, p. 32). Repetition is part of the language of love and the center of the Hail Mary is the name of our beloved, Jesus (Sri 2003, p. 35). For example, for those that are married is your wife ever tired of hearing you say “I love you?” The Hail Mary is a Biblical prayer centered on Christ so it is fitting that the mysteries of our salvation pass by against the backdrop of this prayer (Sri 2003, p. 35). The doxology, Glory be to the Father and the Son. . ., glorifies God who is one in three and is our origin, sustainer and destiny (Paul VI 2 February 1974, ¶ 49d.). We can’t also help crying this out based on we have seen through each mystery (Sri 2003, p. 49). While we are saying the vocals prayers we should be meditating on the mystery of that decade. Otherwise as Pope Paul VI stated “Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas” (Paul VI 2 February 1974, ¶ 47 as cited in Sri 2003, p. 34).
To meditate on the mystery is imagine oneself in the scene or reflect on the virtues of that mystery and how one can incorporate them into one’s life. For example, in the Annunciation we can reflect on Mary’s great yes to God and cooperation in His plan of salvation and ask ourselves “how am I saying yes or not to God?” In the Nativity, we can contemplate the mystery of the infinite God becoming finite in a little baby and the poverty of His birth and ask ourselves “How has God becoming man affected my life or how attached am to material goods?” A couple of other tips for praying the Rosary from soon to be St. John Paul II include announcing each mystery and visualizing it, listening to the Word of God before each decade, having silence to ponder the mystery and applying it to your life (Sri 2003, p. 40, 43, 44, 49-50). In terms of meditations for the mysteries I would recommend Dr. Edward Sri’s book, The New Rosary in Scripture: Biblical Insights for Praying the 20 Mysteries, which gives an explanation of each of the mysteries and how to apply them to your life. Also remember that there are four sets of mysteries: the Glorious, Sorrowful, Joyful and recently added in 2002 the Luminous.
Finally I wanted to close with two stories about the power of the Rosary. One is that in the 16th century a huge Muslim Turkish fleet was invading Italy and was set to conquer most of Europe through it. Months before word reached Italy about this attack and starting in 1569 the Pope urged the praying of the Rosary for them to be delivered from the Turks. Keep in mind that this fleet had not been defeated since the 15th century. Many were worried that Europe would be overrun. Even though the Christian fleet gathered by Don Juan from Spain was outnumbered, a shift in the wind at the opportune time allowed the Christians to defeat the Turks. In thanksgiving for this victory, the Pope put into the place the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary which is celebrated on October 7 still to this day. The second is more contemporary only in the 20th century (Rosaries for Life n.d.).
This second miracle involved eight German Jesuit missionaries who prayed the Rosary every day in Hiroshima, Japan. Their home was only eight blocks from where the atomic bomb hit, but it was not destroyed even though their attached church was completely destroyed. They all only had at most minor injuries and lived long past that day without radiation sickness, no hearing loss or long term issues. Fr. Schiffer, one of the survivors, stated over 200 times when questions by scientists and health care personnel “‘we believe that we survived because we were living the message of Fatima. We lived and prayed the rosary daily in that home’” (Rosaries for Life n.d.). Hopefully you brothers know about the powerful apparitions of Our Lady at Fatima, Portugal where she asked us to pray the Rosary daily for peace and sacrifice for sinners among other requests. In closing, I challenge you brothers to come to the lecturer’s meeting on March 25 to pray the Rosary, to pray the Rosary at least once a week over the next month and read over the handout I put together which gives you reasons and tips to better pray the Rosary. You might not be able to pray the Rosary all at once, but pray one decade an hour so that you can pray it a little at a time. Also in this way you can sanctify your time as well.
Leo XIII. (8 September 1892). Magnae Dei Matris. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/
Paul VI. (2 February 1974). Marialis Cultus. Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/
Sri, E. (2003). The New Rosary in Scripture: Biblical Insights for Praying the 20 Mysteries.
Servant Books: Cincinnati, OH