A prayer for all seasons
The Rosary has been a significant sacramental that has blessed the faith of Catholics for centuries.
It is a timeless aid to contemplation that marks the wonderful rhythm of human life on a beaded rope that can serve as a lifeline to individual salvation.
But what makes the Rosary an help to salvation is the fact of its deep and powerful connection to the Bible and the Divine mysteries that are tied to Jesus’ redemptive stay on earth.
As author Father Oscar Lukefahr has written, “the mysteries of the rosary convert the Bible into prayer.” The Rosary then binds Catholics to the historical life of Christ and foreshadows their eternal destiny and union with Christ in heaven.
Catholics must not forget that while a devotion to the Blessed Mother is a vital part of the Rosary’s historical and spiritual relevance, it is basically a Christ-centered prayer in which Catholics pray to the Son through His Mother. In the words of the Hail Mary, it is Christ, as Luke reported, who is the ultimate object both of the announcement and of the greeting of the Mother of John the Baptist: Blessed is the fruit of your womb.
The Rosary blends easily with the Christian way of life.
In her essay, “The Rosary: A Prayer for All Seasons“ Gloria Hutchinson compares the Rosary to “an Olympic champion emerging from early retirement.” She writes that the Rosary has regained its lofty position as “an ever-reliable prayer for all seasons” since Pope John Paul II proclaimed 2002 the Year of the Rosary. Hutchinson reminds Catholics that the Rosary has continually been a peoples’ prayer.
The sweet chain of prayer
The form of the Rosary remained necessarily not transformed until 2002 when John Paul II instituted five new mysteries.
He called them the Luminous Mysteries because they portray Jesus’ public ministry, including His baptism, Cana, the Sermon on the Mount, the Transfiguration and the Last Supper in a new light. Since His public ministry is an important link between His early years and His passion and death on the Cross, these new mysteries reveal the true meaning of His earthly presence, while filling in the public gap between his joyful youth and the sadness and pain related with Calvary. The Pope also added the Luminous Mysteries to enkindle a renewed interest in the Rosary as a true gateway into the Incarnation.
With the addition of the Luminous Mysteries the Rosary’s intimate connection with the Gospels is even more clear.
It completed what Blessed Bartolo Longo (1841-1926) called “the sweet chain linking us to God.” It is Christ’s years of his public ministry that most display the Incarnation as a “mystery of light.” As John’s Gospel says “while I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
The mystery of light that best shows the relevance of the Luminous Mysteries is the Transfiguration.
The glory of the Godhead shines forth from the face of Christ as the Father commands the surprised apostles to listen to him and to get ready to experience with Him the agonies of Good Friday, so that they may be able to enjoy their own Easter with Him in heaven.
Mary and the Rosary
Even Mary’s relationship to the Rosary has not been without conflict. Since the Hail Mary is the dominant prayer of the Rosary, her critics contend that Mary and her Rosary are a distraction from Jesus Christ, the true focal point of Christianity. Religious scholars have long noted that this is a canard that has no bearing on the Rosary’s true history.
The Council of Ephesus in 431 settled her title in the Hail Mary, the “Mother of God” in light of the Arian heresy that denied Christ’s divinity. Arians called Mary only the Mother of Christ because they believed Jesus to be just a man and so His mother could not be the Mother of God.
On another note, to correct what some theologians thought was an unbalanced devotion to Mary, the post-Vatican II Church has toned down its devotional routines honoring Mary in order to refocus on her Son.
Mary’s Fatima apparitions are the event that has most dramatized the power and majesty of the Rosary.
On October 13, 1917, Our Lady of Fatima told three Portuguese shepherd children, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.
I have come to warn the faithful to amend their lives and to beseech pardon for their sins…. People must say the Rosary.” Mary impressed upon the children how necessary it was to pray the Rosary daily for world peace.She warned them that Russia would spread its errors throughout the world.
A secret weapon
In fact the Rosary has been a constant source of devotion throughout the history of the Church. Garry Wills’ book, The Rosary highlights that for countless Catholics who matured before the Second Vatican Council the Rosary was a daily routine. He cites the story of the late William F. Buckley who developed the habit of saying the rosary as a small boy.
In his published diary, Overdrive, Buckley revealed that he had learned to count on his fingers the decades of the Rosary when one wasn’t available. It was to him “a lifelong routine gained in childhood.”