Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary
(Jonah 1-2:1-2.11; Luke 10:25-37)
What makes the rosary the Church’s most popular way of praying? Perhaps it is its simplicity. The rosary does not require any reading at all but only the recitation of prayers learned in childhood. Perhaps, also, it is its relation to the gospel. While repeatedly saying the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary,” we reflect on well-known episodes – called “mysteries” since in one way or another they attest to God’s presence among humans -- from the lives of Jesus and Mary. Maybe its popularity has to do with its use of a sacramental, a physical substance that rotate with our hand as it guides us through prayer. Finally, its popularity may stem from its capacity for being recited by individuals or in groups. Many pray the rosary as the heart of their personal prayer but do not feel any reluctance to pray it again at a vigil service or in front of an abortion clinic.
It is said that the Blessed Mother gave the rosary to St. Dominic, the founder of the Order of Preachers (usually just called “Dominicans”). However, no historical record of this exchange exists. Nevertheless, for centuries the Dominicans have been its leading promoters, and St. Pope Pius V, who proclaimed today’s feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, was a Dominican. More importantly, the rosary is a Marian devotion. That is, in saying the rosary we ask Mary’s intercession so that we might experience the hope that the mysteries convey.
In recent times Blessed Pope John Paul II gave the rosary a fresh perspective by introducing the “luminous mysteries.” These five events from the ministry of Christ bring a sense of completion to the rosary as a brief history of the incarnation experience. It is Christ’s birth, ministry, death, and resurrection that have brought us salvation. Since this is by no means a trivial accomplishment, praying the rosary frequently enables us to appreciate both its cost to Christ and its benefit for us.