Learn Your Faith: The Rosary

The month of October calls our attention to the Blessed Mother of our Lord, and to the Rosary, as we celebrate the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary on October 7th. The 17th century saint Louis de Montfort reasoned that because God has chosen to come into the world through the Virgin Mary, the world should return to God (spiritually) through her as well. Popes and saints for centuries since have encouraged the daily recitation of the Rosary (see especially Pope Paul VI Marialis cultus and Pope John Paul II Rosarium Virginis Mariae). When the Blessed Mother appeared to St. Bernadette in 1858 she encouraged her to pray the Rosary, and almost all apparitions of the Blessed Mother have included this request.

The Rosary is considered a “school of prayer” because it includes the three primary types of personal prayer: vocal prayer, meditative prayer, and contemplative prayer. With regard to the Rosary, vocal prayer involves the repetition of the “Hail, Mary”. The purpose of the repetition is not to pile up as many words as possible. Our Lord Himself warns against this error in praying: “And in praying use not vain repetitions, as the Gentiles do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” Rather, the purpose of the repletion is to create a “background music” which helps one to stay focused on the fact that he is trying to pray. This sort of “background” can be found, for example, in the Psalms. Psalm 136 repeats the phrase “for His love/mercy endures forever” in each one of its 26 verses. Given the fact that Our Lord Himself used the Psalms as His “prayer book”, He certainly did not intend to say that we should never repeat the same phrase many times in our prayer. Instead, He meant that our prayer should not begin and end there.
The repetition of the “Hail, Mary” prepares the way for meditation on the Mysteries of the Life of Jesus and His Mother, who must have been closer to Him than any other human person. This meditation on, or “thinking about” the Mysteries of His life, death, and Resurrection offers us the opportunity to experience those events in our minds and souls, deepening our awareness and understanding of them.

Contemplative prayer is not something that we accomplish, but something that God accomplishes in us. The Catechism says, among other things, that “contemplative prayer is a hearing of the Word of God” (2716). The vocal prayers and meditations on the Mysteries prepare us for this contemplation as preparing the soil, planting the seeds, and watering the garden prepare for the growth of plants. The “insights” harvested from this contemplative prayer make it possible for us to “learn the interior knowledge of our Lord, the more to love Him and follow Him” (2715).

While there are many and varied ways of meditation, Christians owe it to themselves to develop the desire to meditate regularly... Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. (See CCC 2707-2708).

El mes de octubre hace que nuestra atención se enfoque en la Virgen María, en nuestro Señor, y también en el Santo Rosario, al celebrar la Fiesta de la Virgen del Rosario el 7 de octubre. San Luis De Montfort, santo del siglo 17, deducía que si Dios había escogido venir al mundo por medio de la Virgen María, de igual manera, el mundo debía regresar a Dios (espiritualmente) por medio de ella. Por siglos, tanto Papas como santos, han fomentado la costumbre de recitar el Santo Rosario diariamente. Recordemos que cuando la Virgen María se le apareció a Santa Bernardita en 1858, le pidió que rezara el Rosario; y casi en todas las apariciones, la Santísima Virgen María pide que se rece el Santo Rosario. La repetición del Ave María nos prepara para meditar sobre los misterios de la Vida de Jesús y Su Madre, quien seguramente fue la persona humana que estuvo más cerca de Él. Esta meditación nos invita a reflexionar sobre los misterios de la Vida, Pasión, Muerte y Resurrección de Jesucristo, y nos brinda la oportunidad de experimentar esos eventos en nuestras mentes y almas y hacernos conscientes de lo que ellos significan.

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