The Church’s special feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary is on 7 October.
Many people these days have come to rediscover the importance of prayer and meditation. More and more people of all ages are also coming to see the beauty of praying that wonderful, simple, scripturally based prayer called the Mysteries of the Rosary. It is as if they had discovered something totally new about the Church, about Mary, about Jesus, or about prayer. Young and old alike seem to be equally blessed in this regard.
The Rosary is a contemplative prayer that consoles and gives peace for ordinary people struggling with the demands of living the Gospel. Meditation on the mysteries of Jesus also helps us deal with the mysteries that surround our own lives.
Yes, life is mysterious. At critical moments of our lives, whether it be at family births, sickness, work difficulties, relationship breakdowns and facing death, we all face mystery right in front of our own eyes.
The word mystery does not refer to something puzzling or difficult to understand. That is how we use the word in everyday language. The word mystery refers to a truth that can be gone back to again and again.
Each return brings us further into the truth, reveals a little more of the love of God and the reality of Jesus for us today. Mystery is never depleted; it always has more to show us.
This is so true when people prayerfully pray the Mysteries of the Rosary.
What strikes many in regard to the Rosary is the way in which a traditional prayer-form can also be so contemporary. It reminds us all of Jesus’ saying, ‘Every scribe who is learned in the reign of God is like the head of a household who can bring from his storeroom both the new and the old’ (Matthew 13:52).
We come to see that there are treasures in our traditions, treasures waiting to be brought into the light of our own day. Let us pray that we are equal to the task and can pass on our prayer traditions creatively to future generations.
As children, we may have been introduced to the recitation of the prayers of the Rosary. It is only as we grow and come to understand more about prayer, more about our faith and the beliefs of our Church, that the Mysteries of the Rosary take on more meaning. It is our meditating upon these that allows this prayer to touch our lives here and now, and allows us to touch the lives of Jesus and Mary, gaining new life from that contact.
We need to remember that the Rosary is prayer, the relationship we have with God made explicit. There is no magic in owning a set of Rosary beads; there is, however, always life offered to the one who approaches the Lord in prayer.
Devotion to Mary always puts us in touch with our honoured position as human beings, for Mary was fully human, fully open to the word of God. We see ourselves mirrored in her life.
The praying of the Mysteries of the Rosary provides us with simple but very deep spirituality—one that has its roots in scripture and is very much at the heart of the Church. It also puts us in touch with Jesus, because Mary always points beyond herself to her son.
We Catholics have a treasure to celebrate on the Feast of the Holy Rosary.
† Denis J Hart
Archbishop of Melbourne