There is a wealth of prayer that is contained in a simple Marian devotion called the Holy Rosary. It is a prayer loved by countless saints including St. John Paul II, St. Padre Pio, and St. John XXIII. It is a prayer encouraged by our Lady herself at Lourdes and Fatima.
Some people find the rosary boring and meaningless. To them, it is just some repetitious prayer babbling the Hail Mary’s. Indeed, it can be noise, a clatter of tin cans, as St. Josemaria would call it, if we pray without reflection, when our minds and hearts are far away. Pope Paul VI (whose beatification is on next Sunday) pointed out: “Without contemplation, the rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas…”
What do we contemplate on? In the Rosary, we meditate on the life of Jesus from his infancy (the joyful mysteries), through his public life (the luminous mysteries), to his passion and death (the sorrowful mysteries), and resurrection (the glorious mysteries). That is why the Rosary can be said to be a “compendium of the Gospel.” It has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety. Although it is clearly Marian in character, it is at heart a Christocentric prayer.
We can learn a lot about Jesus from Mary; as the Rosary is actually a meditation with Mary on Jesus. Among all creatures, no one knows Jesus better than his Mother. As we contemplate on the scenes of the rosary, we learn from her to “read” Christ, to discover his secrets, and to understand his message.
The Rosary, aside from being a meditation centered on Jesus, is also a prayer addressed to the Father, to the Blessed Virgin, and to the Holy Trinity. This is the real secret that makes this prayer so powerful and effective. St. Padre Pio called the Rosary beads a weapon of extraordinary power against Satan. Father Gabriel Amorth, chief exorcist of the Vatican, explained that his colleague heard the devil saying during an exorcism: “Every Hail Mary is like a blow on my head. If Christians knew how powerful the Rosary was, it would be my end.”
Let us grab those beads and start praying the rosary daily. The best time is when we have fifteen minutes or so to finish the entire prayer. But if it is not possible, we can do it while travelling in a car, bus or plane, while in the hospital bed, while waiting in line at the supermarket, or for a dentist appointment or business meeting, If we have no time, we can start with just one decade (which consists of an Our Father, 10 Hail Mary’s and a Glory Be) or two each day. Gradually, we can increase the number of decades until we complete a set of five mysteries.
October, the month of the Rosary, provides us an excellent opportunity to rediscover this priceless treasure and to grow in this Marian devotion.
(Reference: Apostolic Letter “Rosarium Virginis Mariae” by St. John Paul II; Encyclical “Octobri mense” by Pope Leo XIII; “Question Time” by Fr. John Flader; “You can become a Saint!” by Mary Ann Budnik; “Echo of Mary, Queen of Peace” by Father Gabriel Amorth)