October is Rosary Month: Why Pray the Rosary?
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
GLASSTONE, OR (September 25, 2009) - October 7th is the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary and the month of October is traditionally the month of the rosary. Why did the Blessed Mother ask us to pray the rosary at many of her approved apparitions such as at Fatima? Why should we pray at all?
We know that God is perfect and perfectly happy, so he doesn’t need our prayers or affections… but he loves us and wants us to be happy. And he wants to have a loving relationship with us both now and for eternity.
God is potentially the greatest source of happiness we can possibly have, as God is the greatest, the most beautiful, most loving, all-powerful and all-knowledgeable being in existence... much greater than we can even imagine (even potentially greater than falling in love with someone here on earth). We can get glimpses of what God is like through the good things he has created, hopefully without letting them sidetrack us from loving and putting God first as we should.
Prayer is a way to help us get in touch with God and to develop a relationship with him. In prayer we not only talk with God, but God communicates with us. As we continue to pray, our relationship with God grows, and we are transformed more into the people we are meant to be.
Psalm 1:1-3 tells us how to be happy: “Blessed (happy) is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”
So why pray the rosary?
One reason the Blessed Mother asked us to pray the rosary might be because it can benefit anyone at any stage of the spiritual life from beginners to advanced. The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” teaches about various types of prayer including vocal prayer, meditation and contemplation. The rosary is a vocal prayer, a meditation and can lead to contemplation as Pope John Paul II mentioned in his encyclical Rosary of the Virgin Mary. Here is a quote from that encyclical:
“A path of contemplation … But the most important reason for strongly encouraging the practice of the Rosary is that it represents a most effective means of fostering among the faithful that commitment to the contemplation of the Christian mystery which I have proposed in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millenio Ineuente as a genuine ‘training in holiness’: ‘What is needed is a Christian life distinguished above all in the art of prayer’. Inasmuch as contemporary culture, even amid so many indications to the contrary, has witnessed the flowering of a new call for spirituality, due also to the influence of other religions, it is more urgent than ever that our Christian communities should become ‘genuine schools of prayer’. The Rosary belongs among the finest and most praiseworthy traditions of Christian contemplation.”
The rosary is not only a vocal prayer but also a meditative prayer. So what is meditation?
The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” #2708 says, “Meditation engages thought, imagination, emotion, and desire. This mobilization of faculties is necessary in order to deepen our convictions of faith, prompt the conversion of our heart, and strengthen our will to follow Christ. Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary. This form of prayerful reflection is of great value, but Christian prayer should go further to the knowledge of the love of the Lord Jesus, to union with him.”
It is interesting that the Blessed Mother appeared in the St. Anthony Church at Fatima to seven-year-old Jacinta, one of the Fatima seers. There she taught Jacinta how to meditate on the mysteries of the rosary by showing her 15 tableaus (pictures) of the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries. Mary taught her to meditate on the mysteries by forming images of the mysteries in her mind as she prayed the Hail Marys.
Praying the decades (10 Hail Marys) of the rosary is not necessarily about focusing on the meaning of each word of each prayer. Rather it is more about pondering the mystery for that decade. For example, the first sorrowful mystery is the Agony in the Garden. While a person says the 10 Hail Marys for that decade they might think about how Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane and what Jesus said and did there. To do this it helps to know the Gospel passages regarding the mysteries. The rosary is a prayer of the gospels as we not only meditate on the gospel scene, but most of the prayers are also taken from Scripture verses.
How does contemplation fit into this?
While meditation is a very good form of prayer, and even necessary, contemplation is a higher form of prayer. St. Teresa of ...
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