May, the month of our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary
May 16, 2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ Jesus, As we continue into the month of May, the month of our Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, let us continue to strive to grow closer to her Immaculate Heart. One of the best ways to be close to Mary is through praying the Rosary! This week I share with you a meditation on the Rosary and urge you to pray the Rosary each day! I encourage you to reflect over this message a few times this week: “The Rosary: In the Rosary our Lady teaches us to contemplate the life of her Son. Love for our Lady is shown in our life in many different ways. The Holy Rosary has been the Marian prayer most recommended by the Church down through the ages. In it, piety gives us a summary of the principal Truths of the Christian Faith; as we consider each of the mysteries, our Lady teaches us to contemplate the life of her Son. She, intimately united to Jesus, at times takes first place; other times, it is Christ Himself who is the first to attract our attention. Mary always talks to us about Jesus: of the joy of His birth, of His death on the Cross, and of His glorious Resurrection and Ascension. The Rosary is our Mother’s favorite prayer. To say the Holy Rosary, considering the mysteries, repeating the ‘Our Father’ and ‘Hail Mary’, with the praises to the Blessed Trinity and the constant invocation of the Mother of God, is a continuous act of Faith, Hope and Love, of adoration and reparation. (J. Escriva, Holy Rosary, Preface) Etymologically, the Rosary is a crown of roses, a delightful custom which among all peoples represents an offering of love and a symbol of joy. (Pius XII, Address, 16 October 1940) It is the most excellent means of meditated prayer, constituted in the manner of a mystical crown, in which the angelic salutation, the Lord’s Prayer and the doxology to the August Trinity are intertwined with the consideration of the highest mysteries of our Faith. In it, by means of many scenes, the mind contemplates the drama of the Incarnation and of the Redemption of our Lord. (John XXIII, Encyclical, Grata Recordatio, 26 September 1959) In this Marian prayer, vocal prayer is combined with the meditation of the Christian mysteries, which is as it were the soul of the Rosary. Thanks to this unhurried meditation it is possible for all to say the same words, while at the same time each one can do his or her own personal prayer. To imagine oneself as a participant in the scenes being considered helps one to say it well. In this way, we shall live the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Each day we shall do something new for them. We shall hear their family conversation. We shall see the Messiah grow up. We shall admire His thirty years of hidden life… We shall be present at His Passion and Death… We shall be amazed at the glory of His resurrection… In a word: carried away by Love (the only real love is Love), we shall contemplate each and every moment of the life of Christ. (J. Escriva, op. cit., p. 9) In considering the mysteries, vocal prayer - the Our Fathers and the Hail Marys - comes to life; our interior life is enriched with deep content, which becomes a source of prayer and contemplation throughout the day. Little by little, it identifies us with Christ’s feelings and enables us to live in a climate of intense devotion: we rejoice with Christ joyful, we suffer with Christ suffering, and we look forward in hope to the glory of Christ Risen. Pope Paul VI said that the liturgy and the Rosary, although existing on essentially different planes of reality, have as their object the same salvific events wrought by Christ. The former presents anew, under the veil of signs and operative in a hidden way, the great mysteries of our redemption. The latter, by means of devout contemplation, recalls these same mysteries to the mind of the person praying and stimulates the will to draw from them the norms of living. (Paul VI, Marialis Cultus, 48) The family Rosary, ‘a powerful weapon’. The Second Vatican Council asks all the sons of the Church that the cult, especially the liturgical cult, of the Blessed Virgin, be generously fostered, and the practices and exercises of piety, recommended by the Magisterium of the Church towards her in the course of centuries, be highly esteemed. (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, 67) And we are well aware of how insistently the Church has recommended saying the Rosary. It is one of the best and most efficacious prayers in common that the Christian family is invited to recite, (Paul VI, op. cit. 54) and in many cases it will be an aim of Christian life for many families. Sometimes it is enough to begin by saying just one mystery, perhaps using such signal opportunities as the month of May or a visit to a shrine or chapel of our Lady. Much has been achieved if children are taught to say it from an early age. The family Rosary is a source of good for everyone, for it attracts God’s mercy to the home. The saying of the A ngelus and of the Rosary, said John Paul II, must be for every Christian and even more for Christian families, like a spiritual oasis during the course of the day, from which we can get strength and confidence. (John Paul II, Angelus, in Otranto, 5 October 1980) And just a few days later, the Holy Father once again remarked: Guard jealously that tender and confident love for our Lady, which characterizes you. Don’t ever let it get cold… Be faithful to the traditional exercises of Marian piety in the Church: the saying of the Angelus, the month of Mary, and in a special way, the Rosary. Would that there be a resurgence of that beautiful custom of praying the Rosary in the family. (John Paul II, Homily, 12 October 1980) Today in our prayer we can see whether we approach the Holy Rosary as a powerful weapon (J. Escriva, op. cit., p. 5) to get from the Blessed Virgin those graces and favors which we need so much, whether we say it with the necessary attention, whether we try to deepen in its rich content, especially stopping and meditating (upon) each of the mysteries for a few moments, and whether we try to get our family and friends to start saying it and so to have more dealings with our Mother in Heaven, and to love her more. Distractions during the Rosary. Sometimes, when we Christians try to spread the saying of the Rosary as a form of talking to our Lady every day, we come across people, even good people, who make the excuse that they are frequently distracted in saying it and that, therefore not to say it is better than saying it badly, or words to that effect. Pope John XXIII used to say that the worst Rosary is the one that doesn’t get said. We can tell our friends that, instead of omitting it, it is more pleasing to our Lady that we say it as well as we can, even though we have distractions. It can also happen that if you have many distractions at prayer, that prayer of yours may well be upsetting the devil a great deal. (St. Alphonsus Liguori, Treatise on Prayer) The Rosary has sometimes been compared to a song: our Lady’s song. So, although we may not always follow the words consciously, the melody will lead us, almost imperceptibly, to keep our thoughts and our hearts on our Lady. Involuntary distractions do not cancel the fruits of the Rosary, or of any other vocal prayer, provided one is struggling to avoid them. St. Thomas points out that a vocal prayer may be the object of a threefold attention: correct pronunciation of all the words; special concentration on the meaning of the words; and attention to the final goal of our prayer, namely God and the thing we are praying for. This last is the most important and necessary kind of attention, and can be had by people who are not very well educated or who don’t understand clearly the meaning of the words they are saying, and can be so intense that it transports the mind to God. (St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, 83, 3) If we try, we can say the Rosary well each time: watching our pronunciation, pauses, attention, stopping a few moments to consider the mystery we are about to say,offering a decade perhaps for a specific intention - the Universal Church, the Roman Pontiff, the intentions of the bishop of the diocese, our family, priestly vocations, the apostolate, peace and justice in a particular country, or some matter that worries us - trying to ensure that these roses offered to our Lady never become bedraggled or faded through routine, or allowing more or less voluntary distractions to take over… Avoiding all distractions is very difficult, on occasions practically impossible, but our Lady knows that too and accepts our good will and our efforts. To say the Rosary devoutly, it is important to say it at a suitable time. A sad way of not praying the Rosary is leaving it for the end of the day. If you say it when going to bed, it will be done at best badly and with no meditation on the mysteries. It will be difficult then to avoid routine, which is what drowns true piety, the only piety worth the name. (J. Escriva, Furrow, 476) You always leave the Rosary for later, and you end up not saying it at all because you are sleepy. If there is no other time, say it in the street without letting anybody notice it. It will, moreover, help you to have (the) presence of God. (ibid., 478) The Rosary has the advantage that it can be said anywhere: in the church, in the street, in the car, alone or in family, while in a doctor’s waiting room or queuing to get some forms. Very few Catholics can say sincerely that they don’t have time to say the prayer most beloved and recommended by the Church. One day our Lord will show us the consequences of having prayed devoutly, albeit with some distractions too, the Holy Rosary: disasters that were avoided by our Lady’s special intercession, assistance to loved ones, conversions, ordinary and extraordinary graces for ourselves and for others, and the many people who benefitted from this prayer and whom we didn’t even know. This prayer which is so efficacious and pleasing to our Lady will in many moments of our life be the most effective channel for petition, for thanksgiving, and for making atonement for our sins: ‘Immaculate Virgin, I know very well that I am only a miserable wretch, and all I do is increase each day the number of my sins…‘ You told me the other day that was how you spoke to Our Mother. And I was confident in advising you with assurance to pray the Holy Rosary. Blessed be that monotony of ‘Hail Marys’ which purifies the monotony of your sins!” (ibid., 475) (From: In Conversation with God by Francis Fernandez) Through the intercession of Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, St. Joseph, St. Michael and St. Paul, may God bless us and grant us the grace of true devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary! In Christ through Mary, Fr. Kasel
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