I meet so many people who struggle with praying the Rosary, when in fact, the Rosary has the potential of being one of the most profound opportunities for entering more deeply into communion and fellowship with the living God.
This article courtesy of Steve Kellmeyer, whose Calendar of Indulgences, Neophyte Calendar and other teaching tools are available through Bridegroom Press.
Now, I don’t share this as one who was practically born with a Rosary in hand, and always experienced such grace in praying it. In fact, the opposite holds. All growing up, I was one for “adventure” and “excitement” in life, like scuba diving and such. I even went to Hollywood at one point in hopes of being a movie director. Needless to say, the Rosary seemed monotonous and boring.
But, I can honestly say, now that I have learned what the Rosary really is, and how to pray it from the heart, I find it to be one of the most exciting things I can do in life! (Forget Hollywood!) Why? Because, it is an entering into the life and presence of Christ, who is Almighty God, through the heart of the one who knows and loves Him best.
Our Holy Father recently sent us a letter encouraging us to pray the holy Rosary. In it he addresses the tendency for one to experience it as a “monotonous and boring” prayer and quotes Pope Paul VI as saying, “Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas” (#12). Our Holy Father goes on to say, “the Rosary calls for a quiet rhythm and a lingering pace, helping the individual to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord’s life as seen through the eyes of her who was closest to the Lord” (#12).
This is what makes the Rosary so exciting. Yes we are living here on earth, but through Baptism we are invited into God’s Heavenly Kingdom that surrounds us and fills us in the spiritual realm. But, how do we tap into and “keep [our] eyes fixed on heavenly things” as St. Paul tells us? It is primarily by coming to know and recognize Christ’s presence among us.
And, how do we come to know Him, but by entering into His life and presence while here on earth. Our Holy Father speaks of the Rosary as a “compendium of the Gospel.” It is but a reflection on and entrance into the most significant times of Christ’s life on earth, through the heart of the one who was there, if not physically, spiritually, and who knows and loves Him most deeply.
He says it is a “most effective means” of entering “into living communion with Christ through the heart of His Mother.”
Again, what makes this prayer so exciting is not just that we come to know about Christ, or even that we come to know Him, but that we can be drawn into becoming one with Him.
Our Holy Father, in this letter, quotes St. Louis de Montfort in this regard, “Our entire perfection consists in being conformed, united and consecrated to Jesus Christ. Hence the most perfect of all devotions is undoubtedly that which conforms, unites and consecrates us most perfectly to Jesus Christ. Now, since Mary is of all creatures the one most conformed to Jesus Christ, it follows that among all devotions that which most consecrates and conforms a soul to our Lord is devotion to Mary, His Holy Mother, and that the more a soul is consecrated to her the more will it be consecrated to Jesus Christ.” (#15).
He goes on to say that “the Rosary mystically transports us to Mary’s side as she is busy watching over the human growth of Christ in the home of Nazareth. This enables her to train us and to mold us with the same care, until Christ is ‘fully formed’ in us” (#15).
This is truly meant to be the grace received when praying the Rosary. St. Ignatius of Loyola speaks of three ways of entering into Scripture. The first is simply reading its content. The second is reading it and imagining oneself on the sidelines watching it happen. And the third is actually becoming one of the characters in the scene; or, I like to add, placing myself in the scene as an added character.
As we enter into the third way, we not only come to know who Christ is with head knowledge, but we begin to experience His presence with Heart knowledge.
Sometimes when I pray the Rosary, I become one of the characters. For instance, I become one with Mary at the Annunciation. I open myself to take on her stance, her attitude in the scene, and this helps me to become more open, as she is, to the presence and grace of God in my own life.
At other times I become one with Jesus, such as in the womb of Mary, or at His birth in Bethlehem or hanging on the cross. And, what tremendous opportunity there is in this for healing and taking on ever-more our true dignity and identity as a beloved “child of God.”
We can become any one of the characters, not only Jesus or Mary, but Elizabeth, a shepherd, Simeon, Anna or any others. As I’ve shared, we can also walk into the scene as ourselves. There are times I imagine myself walking into the scene at Bethlehem and asking Mary to let me hold the Divine Christ Child; or standing at the foot of the cross with Mary and John, opening myself to His redeeming graces; or imagining Him appearing to me after His resurrection.
That is the beauty of meditating on the life of Christ. The Holy Spirit can inspire each of us individually as to what would be the most life-giving way to meditate at the time. And, if we’re open to the Holy Spirit, through the praying of the mysteries, we will receive the graces we are most in need of at the time.
The more we come to know Christ personally through such meditation on His life, the more we begin to realize the true underlying purpose in it all that there’s a fire burning! His Sacred Heart is enflamed with a burning love for us, a real and personal love; and He longs to consume us in it. And, the more we come to know His presence, the more we begin to experience this unfathomable, unconditional love that He has for us.
Our Holy Father tells us, “In Christ, God has truly assumed ‘a heart of flesh’. Not only does God have a divine heart, rich in mercy and forgiveness, but also a human heart, capable of all the stirrings of affection.”
And, so, my friends, as we enter into this profound season of Lent, let us experience it in its fullness. Lent is a time of entering into the mysteries of Christ’s life where His love for us shown most passionately.
Our Holy Father says that as we enter into the sorrowful mysteries of the life of Christ, we “enter with [Mary] into the depths of Gods love for man and… experience all its life-giving power.”
At the beginning of the new millennium, our Holy Father put out an Apostolic letter entitled Novo Millennio Ineunte, in which he encouraged all the faithful to “cast out into the deep” in our relationship with Christ.
He speaks of this more recent letter on the Rosary as a “kind of Marian compliment to Novo Millennio and an exhortation… to contemplate the face of Christ in union with and at the school of His most Holy Mother.”
May we all have the grace, especially during this Lenten Season, to respond to our Holy Father’s plea and “confidently take up the Rosary once again!”