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Reflections on Rosarium Virginis Mariae

By Bishop Terry R. LaValley

October 9, 2019

The following is Bishop Terry R. LaValley’s reflections delivered at the Rosary Rally at St. Mary’s Cathedral on Oct. 6.

We are acquainted with the practice of praying the Holy Rosary. Certainly, this isn’t the case with many of our children and grandchildren today. “Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness,” St. John Paul II wrote in his Apostolic Letter on the Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae. Today we face so many challenges. Why should we not once more have recourse to the Rosary, with the same faith as those who have gone before us?

The Rosary helps believers meditate on the spiritual mysteries of the birth, life, death, and glory of Christ: the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries. Each “mystery” calls to mind one aspect of the Lord’s work of redemption: His coming in the flesh; His public ministry; His death on the cross for our sins; and His resurrection and ascension into heaven. As we pray the Rosary, focused on the events of a particular mystery, we enter into a divine journey with Jesus, accompanied by Mary, His Blessed Mother.

Mentally dwelling on the individual mystery, as we finger the beads in our Rosary prayer, we enter a journey of holiness. The rosary can draw us nearer and nearer to Jesus, whose life and glory it honors, and to His mother, who teaches us to gaze on the face of her Son.

Dwelling on the mysteries of the Rosary is a powerful way for the Spirit to penetrate beyond the surface of my life and lift me up to the heavenly realm.

Although the repeated Hail Mary is addressed directly to Mary, it is to Jesus that the act of love is ultimately directed, with her and through her. As we finger the next bead, our yearning for holiness intensifies as we seek to be conformed ever more completely to Christ.

Announcing each mystery, we let the words direct our imagination and our mind towards a particular episode or moment in the life of Christ…after the announcement of the mystery, it is good to pause and focus our attention for a period of time on the mystery concerned, before moving into vocal prayer. (29, 31)

“The center of gravity in the Hail Mary, the hinge which joins its two parts, is the Name of Jesus. ‘Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus…’ From Mary’s unique privileged relationship with Christ, which makes her the Mother of God, derives the forcefulness of the appeal we make to her in the second half of the prayer, as we entrust to her maternal intercession our lives and the hour of our death…” (34)

“To the extent that meditation on the mystery is attentive and profound, and to the extent that it is enlivened—from one Hail Mary to another—by love for Christ and for Mary, the glorification of the Trinity at the end of each decade with the Glory Be raises our minds to the heights of heaven and enabling us to relive, in a way, the experience of the Mountain of Transfiguration.” (34)

“At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, its deliverance was attributed to the power this prayer and Our Lady of the Rosary was acclaimed as the one whose intercession brought salvation.” (39) Certainly, the Church today, under siege in so many ways, is in need of such deliverance. With JP II, 19 years ago, I entrust to the power of this prayer, the cause of peace in the world and the cause of the family. Only an intervention from on high, capable of guiding the hearts of those living in situations of conflict and those governing the destinies of nations, can give reason to hope for a brighter future.

The Rosary is by its nature a prayer for peace, since it consists in the contemplation of the Prince of Peace. How could we reflect on Christ carrying the Cross and Christ crucified (4th and 5th Sorrowful Mysteries) without feeling the need to act as a Simon of Cyrene for our sisters and brothers weighed down by grief or crushed by despair. And so, for instance, we, the people of the Diocese of Ogdensburg seek to be Simon of Cyrene for the faithful of the Diocese of Latakia, indeed for all who live in fear. We pray for peace.

The Rosary is a prayer of and for the family. The family that prays together stays together. Family Rosary with both mom and dad participating is a powerful tool for conversion, ours and our neighbors’. It seems that too many families today seldom manage to spend time praying together.

To return to praying the Rosary as a family means filling daily life with very different images than what we find on TV or Facebook. The family that recites the Rosary, meditating on the mysteries is inspired to reproduce something of the atmosphere of the household of Nazareth. Its members place Jesus at the center.

Embarking on the journey of holiness is our response to the call to be holy. We bring to our Rosary Prayer all the problems, anxieties, labors and endeavors which go to make up our lives “Cast your burden on the Lord and He will sustain you” (Ps.55:23), the Psalmist assures us. To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and His Mother…The Rosary marks the rhythm of human life, bringing it into harmony with the rhythm of God’s own life.” (25)

Anyone who contemplates Christ through the various stages of His life cannot fail to see in Him the truth about the human person. Contemplating Christ’s birth, we learn of the sanctity of life; seeing the household of Nazareth, we learn the original truth of the family according to God’s plan; listening to the Master in the mysteries of His public ministry, we find the light which leads us to enter the Kingdom of God; and following Him on the way to Calvary, we learn the meaning of salvific suffering. Contemplating Christ and His Blessed Mother in glory, we see the goal towards which each of us is called, if we allow ourselves to be healed and transformed by the Holy Spirit.

“We turn to you this day, Virgin and Mother of God, binding our souls to your hope as to the most solid and sure anchor. To you we consecrate our minds, souls, bodies, our whole selves, honoring you with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs as we are able, since we will never be able to perform such a task as it truly deserves. But you, Mother of the Lord, help us and steer our destinies wherever you wish; quell the violence of our base passions and guide us, once the storm has been calmed, into the tranquil harbor of the divine will, considering us worthy of the beatitude to come, of that kindly light that radiates from the vision of the Word of God who took flesh from you. To Him, together with the Father and the most holy and life-giving Spirit, be glory, honor, power, majesty, now and ever and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”

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