Rediscovering the Rosary
May is Mary’s month and the Rosary is Mary’s prayer.
It is a simple prayer, one that many of us learned as children. And as we grow older, the Rosary grows with us.
I know many of you pray the Rosary every day. I do, too. I love the Rosary and I’ve had this devotion for many years.
And I know that many of you share my own experience — that the Rosary is new every time I pray it. With each passing year, this prayer takes me to different places in my heart, and to different places in my contemplation of Jesus and his mysteries.
The Rosary is the prayer of the disciple’s journey, a prayer of the heart that is made for praying as we walk along the path of faith, the path of following Jesus Christ.
No Rosary is ever the same, although we are always praying the same words in the same way. It is hard for me to describe, but the Rosary to me seems to be a prayer that is beautifully suited to the nature of our human heart and human mind.
The Hail Marys we repeat with our lips become a kind of background setting as we are lifted up into contemplation.
As we ponder the mysteries of Christ’s life, often our mind wanders to the concerns of our own lives — our cares become prayers for our families and friends, our work and our world — and then we drift back again to considering the Gospel scenes.
Our prayer seems as natural as breathing. We linger on some thoughts longer than others. Time seems to slow down and become part of the quiet rhythm of Hail Marys. We find ourselves dwelling on a single word or group of words in the prayer.
The repetition of Hail Marys in the Rosary is like a litany of love. It reminds me of that Easter scene where Jesus asks St. Peter three times, “Do you love me?”
As we all know, “I love you,” isn’t something we say only once to the ones we love.
We express our love over and over, many times in many ways each day. So every Hail Mary we repeat in the Rosary is like an “I love you” that we are saying to Jesus and to Mary, who is his mother and our mother.
The Rosary tells us that we can be as close to Jesus as Mary is, that we can live for Jesus as Mary does.
And in the Rosary, we are learning how to look at Jesus the way Mary looked at him.
The scenes that pass before us in the joyful, sorrowful, luminous and glorious mysteries — are all scenes that Mary saw with her own eyes. The Gospels tell us that Mary “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
So Mary’s prayer is a prayer of remembering — in which we keep the memory of Jesus’ words and his example present and alive, pondering these mysteries until they come to fill and shape our own heart.
St. Paul taught us to pray without ceasing and to seek the mind of Christ. He spoke of Christ dwelling in our hearts and being formed within us. All of this is happening when we pray the Rosary.
Through our contemplation of his life, we are being drawn into communion with Christ. As we repeat the angel’s words in the Hail Mary, his promise to Mary is being delivered in our own lives. We are being filled with God’s grace, the Lord is with us.
Through the repetitions of the daily Rosary, the patterns and virtues of Christ’s life are being impressed upon our hearts.
Through his joyful mysteries, we learn his humility. Through his luminous mysteries, we share his zeal to bring God’s light to the world. Through his sorrowful mysteries, we learn that love requires sacrifice. Through his glorious mysteries, our confident hope for heaven grows.
What a beautiful prayer! Simple enough for a child, yet so deep that it can bring us into the heart of Christ and into the depths of his Gospel!
So this week, in the middle of this month of Mary, let’s rediscover the spiritual treasure of the Rosary. It is the prayer of the saints. And it should be the prayer of every Catholic who wants to follow the path of Jesus and grow in his image.
This week, let’s all pray a Rosary — or just one decade of the Rosary — for the cause of the family and the cause of peace.
And let us ask Our Blessed Mother to help us to pray her prayer of the Rosary with a new spirit of faith and love — in our families and in our parishes and in our hearts.
Archbishop Gomez’s book, “Immigration and the Next America,” is available at the Cathedral Gift Shop (www.olacathedralgifts.com/immigrationandthenextamericarenewingthesoulofournation.aspx). Follow him at www.facebook.com/ArchbishopGomez.