Homilette for Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Our Lady of the Rosary

(Jonah 4:1-11; Luke 11:1-4)

“’Teach us to pray...’” the disciples ask Jesus in the gospel today. If the appeal were made to us, we might respond by telling the petitioner to find a rosary. For good reason Catholics view the rosary as the unofficial prayer of the Church.

The rosary is both physical and mental, both Scriptural and devotional prayer. Although it is often recited on one’s knees, posture is not as integral to the rosary as fingering its beads. Pressing each bead as we progress through the five “Our Fathers” and Glory Bes” and fifty “Hail Marys,” we remind ourselves that our salvation took place through God becoming human like ourselves. More importantly, the rosary invites us to consider the whole story of Christ as it moves from the announcement of his birth in the Joyous Mysteries, through his instructive ministry in the Luminous Mysteries, to his salvific death in the Sorrowful Mysteries, and finally to his heavenly reign in the Glorious Mysteries.

Scripture not only gives us matter for reflection but also provides the words we recite. The “Our Father” comes from today’s gospel, and the first part of the “Hail Mary” is derived from salutations by the angel Gabriel’s and Mary’s relative Elizabeth in Luke’s infancy narrative. When we pray the rosary, we put ourselves in communion with people reciting it around the world. Just as remarkable, the rosary lends itself to communal recitation. We may say it alone, but it is especially satisfying to pray it with others as if it were the Divine Office, the official prayer of the Church, where we echo one another in offering God praise.