Tuesday, October 06, 2009
The Rosary is the most popular sacramental and devotion in the Catholic Church. Along with the Brown Scapular, the Rosary is identified with Mary. It has received approval and commendations from Popes and Saints throughout the centuries as an efficacious means towards union with God. This "compendium of the Gospels" offers us food for contemplation and opens up a way of following Jesus through Mary. In his apostolic letter On the Most Holy Rosary of the Virgin Mary, Pope John Paul II tells us how we can deepen our understanding of this great devotion. The Rosary is a powerful weapon. We have Mary's promise in all of her approved apparitions, especially in Lourdes and Fatima, that the Holy Rosary can convert sinners and change the heart of God. When we are thinking of giving someone we love a gift, we go through all the trouble of making sure the gift is to his or her liking. When we think of what to give Mary as a gift, we should consider the Holy Rosary. It is her favorite act of filial devotion and an effective way of meditating on her life. The life of Mary (and Jesus) is summarized in the Rosary. To meditate on it is to plunge the depths of the Gospels.
The feast we celebrate today, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, is a commemoration of the victory by the Christians against the Muslims in Lepanto. Pope Pius V instituted this feast in 1571 originally as "Our Lady of Victory." It was Pope Gregory XIII who changed it to "Our Lady of the Rosary" in 1573.
Because cradle Catholics grew up listening and praying the Rosary, there is always a danger of taking it for granted. We can recite it but not really pray it. We can say the words without really understanding the words. We can thumb through the beads without realizing what we just did.
This feast of Mary is a reminder for all of us to take a second look at this precious gift from our heavenly Mother. What was once a gift from Mary can be turned around and made as OUR gift to her, if we pray it with faith and love.