From The Pastor’s Desk – October 1, 2023

The Holy Rosary

In the spiritual tradition of the Church, the month of October is a time of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. On October 7 each year, the Church celebrates the Memorial of Our Lady of the  Rosary, which highlights this popular form of Marian devotion that is recommended by the Magisterium of the Church. While some Catholics might think of the Rosary as “that long, boring, and monotonous prayer,” others have come to cherish it as a way to stay tethered to God through Mary’s intercession. It’s always good to recall why the Church recommends the prayer of the Holy  Rosary.

Pope St. John Paul II wrote a beautiful letter explaining the value and benefits of the Rosary, to which he had a strong devotion (cf. Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 2002). John Paul II explained that the Rosary, “though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer,” because it invites the soul to contemplate, with Mary’s help, the mysteries of Christ’s life. Each decade of the
Rosary is marked by the commemoration of one of the joyful, luminous, sorrowful, or glorious mysteries of the life of Christ. John Paul II explained that the repetition of the 10 Hail Marys of each decade provides a peaceful rhythm for the soul to contemplate Christ. Without such contemplation, he warned, the Rosary could easily become a “mechanical repetition,” which Jesus warned
us to avoid (cf. Mt 6:7).

So, when we pray the Rosary properly, we contemplate the mysteries of Christ’s life, and “the principal events of the life of Jesus Christ pass before the eyes of the soul.” This means that we also contemplate the events of our salvation. This contemplation helps us first to remember what Christ did to redeem us, but it also helps us to share the experiences and deepest feelings that Christ endured in His saving work. And by sharing His feelings, we can learn to adopt His sentiments and be more interiorly configured to Him, which brings about our sanctification.

One of the insights that John Paul II shared with the Church is that the Rosary “marks the rhythm of human life,” since our lives are also inevitably filled with joyful, luminous, sorrowful, and glorious moments. The Rosary reminds us that trials and difficulties in life can be offset and overcome by joys and triumphs. By helping us to recall what Christ endured to save us, the Rosary orients us toward communion with God, which is the ultimate goal of every human life. Lastly, in my own personal experience, I’ve found that the Rosary helps us to “store up treasures in heaven,” as Christ instructed (Mt 6:20). By the numerous repetitions of the Hail Mary, we “put prayers in the bank,” so to speak, as we ask Mary to pray for us “now and at the hour of our death.” When that hour finally comes, we can be consoled by knowing that during our lives we repeatedly asked Mary to intercede for us as the soul makes its way before the throne of God.