This Tuesday, 7 October is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and the month of October is traditionally dedicated to the Holy Rosary. It is a good time to renew our use of this prayer or to begin using it if you are unfamiliar with it.
In the Rosary, we repeat the familiar prayers of the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be. (Here is a link to a simple guide if you do not know how to use the Rosary.) The point of the Rosary is not to engage in a mechanical repetition of prayers but to use these familiar words as a backdrop to meditation on the mysteries of Our Lord’s life, death and resurrection.
The word “meditation” might seem a bit esoteric, but it simply means to ponder something prayerfully. When we do so, we open ourselves to the Father who may grant us to know Him more deeply than can be expressed in human thoughts or words. To start off, we can simply imagine the scene of, for example, the visitation, the scourging at the pillar, or the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, to take just three examples, and talk to Our Lord in our own words.
The Rosary is suited to people of all conditions of life, those who have little faith, and great saints, those who are gifted academically, and those who are not. When Mary was greeted by St Elizabeth, she replied with the prayer of the Magnificat “My soul glorifies the Lord…” In that prayer, she said that the Lord puts down the proud of heart and raises the humble. This happens in the Rosary where God does not take account of our position, abilities or reputation, but deals with us according to our heart.
St John Paul took as his motto Totus tuus, “All yours”, giving himself into the hands of our Blessed Mother, our Advocate and the one who channels all God’s graces for us. He said that the Rosary was his favourite prayer and was even seen saying it when attending Mass in the later stages of his life when he was suffering from Parkinson’s disease. He gave us the best explanation of the Rosary when he said that in this prayer we contemplate with Mary the face of Christ. (See his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae.) Many other Popes have commended its use, and a whole litany of saints have praised its effectiveness as a means to grow in grace.
This powerful prayer may be said alone: some people say it on the bus or train on the way to work, or have a CD in the car to join in with while driving. It is also a great prayer to be said together with a group of people. It is particularly suited to prayer together as a family. The great apostle of the Rosary, Fr Peyton, was speaking of the Rosary when he coined the famous phrase “The family that prays together stays together.” During October let us renew our love for Our Lady and our use of her beautiful chaplet, and let us contemplate together with Mary the face of Christ.
Sermon given by Fr Finigan on 5 October 2014, the 27th Sunday of the year, at Margate and Cliftonville.