Fr. Peter Mascarenhas, SMM –
A few years ago I was in Kenya, Africa, giving a session for three months to our seminarians in our Scholasticate in Langatha. I personally tried to say all the mysteries of the Rosary for everyday for a period of time. In the beginning it was hard and I used to get distracted often. As the time went on I could get into the spirit of the Rosary with contemplation. I was able to concentrate better and contemplate the face of Jesus while reciting the prayer of the Holy Rosary.
St. John Paul II wrote that, “The most holy rosary is a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the a spiritual journey of a Christian life, which after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginning and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to ‘set out into the deep’. Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (RVM, Most Holy Rosary). It is Marian in character but is at the heart of a Christocentric prayer. It has the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said as a compendium.
With Rosary, the Christian people sit at the school of Mary and is left to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depth of his love. Numerous saints and Popes have regarded the Holy Rosary as a weapon to grow in holiness. Rosary is an effective spiritual weapon against the evils afflicting society. St. Louis Marie De Montfort, an excellent author on the Book, Secret of the Rosary, St. (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina, A true Apostle of the Rosary, Blessed Bartolo Longo, his path to holiness rested on the inspiration heard from the depth of his heart: ‘whoever spreads the Rosary is saved.’ Blessed John XXIII and Pope Paul the VI wrote in Marialis Cultus, Rosary is evangelical in Character and it is Christo-centric in inspiration. St. John Paul II wrote that “Rosary has accompanied me in moments of joy and in moments of difficulty. To it I have entrusted any number of concerns; in it I have found comfort… Rosary is my favorite prayer, a marvelous prayer, marvelous in its simplicity and depth” (RVM.2).
Rosary belongs to the most worthy and finest traditions of Christian Contemplation. It is developed in the West, it is a typically meditative prayer, corresponding in some way to the ‘prayer of the heart’ or ‘Jesus prayer’ which took root in the soil of the Christian east. St. John Paul II in the first Chapter of his Apostolic Letter invites everyone to contemplate Christ with Mary as we recite the Rosary without fail. He speaks of several gazes, not just a look at the face of Jesus but a penetrating look so as to be free from distractions while we recite the holy Rosary. He dove-tails with St. Louis Marie de Montfort who wrote that, a decade of the holy Rosary recited prayerfully and devoutly worth more than the thousand Rosaries said badly. ( SR. 127). In other words, when we recite the Rosary we often experience distractions simply because it is a ejaculatory prayer or repetitive prayer. Devil often tempts us. In order to be free from temptations and distractions St. John Paul emphasizes that we gaze at the face of Jesus through Mary and receive the fruit of the prayer we say and find peace and joy that you and me and the world longs for in everyday life.
The contemplation of Christ has an incomparable model in Mary. In a unique way the face of the Son belongs to Mary… The eyes of heart already turned to him at Annunciation, when she conceived him by the power of the Holy Spirit… when at last when she gave birth in Bethlehem, her eyes were able to gaze tenderly on the face of her Son, as she wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in manger. (Lk 2:7). Thereafter Mary’ gaze, ever filled with adoration and wonder, would never leave him. At times it would be questioning look, as in the episode of finding in the temple: Son, why have you treated us so? ( Lk 2: 48); it would always be penetrating gaze, one capable of deeply understanding Jesus, even to the point of perceiving his hidden feelings and anticipating his decisions, as at Cana (cf. Jn. 2:5, RVM 10) and so on… this is how one has to make sincere efforts to concentrate on the face of Jesus and experience the profound and personal presence Christ in the prayer of the holy Rosary and grow in holiness and wholeness and the fullness of Christ in everyday life.
The Rosary, a Contemplative Prayer
Spiritual journey culminates not in contemplation but in compassion. It is this profound experience of our Blessed Mother made her to accompany her son to Calvary and stand at the foot of the cross in compassion ( Jn 19: 25-27). Without an contemplative dimension Rosary would lose its meaning as Pope Paul VI clearly pointed out: “Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without soul, and its recitation runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas, in violation of the admonition of Christ.” In praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words’ ( Mt 6:7). This calls for Christo-centric contemplation as it is said above. By immersing us in the mysteries of the Redeemer’s life, it ensures that what he has done and what the liturgy makes present is profoundly assimilated in and shapes our existence. In the spiritual journey of the Rosary, based on the constant contemplation – in Mary’s company – of the face of Christ, this demanding ideal of being conformed to him is pursued through an association which could be described in terms friendship. We are thereby enabled to enter naturally into Christ’s life and as it were to share his deepest feelings. We are able to share his virtues as the children of God searching meaning and purpose in life. May the Month of October enrich with this beautiful devotion to the most Holy Rosary.
Here are the 15 Promises of Our Lady to St. Dominic and Blessed Alan De La Roche:
1. To all those who shall pray my Rosary devoutly, I promise my special protection and great graces.
2. Those who shall persevere in the recitation of my Rosary will receive some special grace.
3. The Rosary will be a very powerful armor against hell; it will destroy vice, deliver from sin and dispel heresy.
4.The Rosary will make virtue and good works flourish, and will obtain for souls the most abundant divine mercies. It will draw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
5. Those who entrust themselves to me through the Rosary will not perish.
6. Whoever recites my Rosary devoutly reflecting on the mysteries, shall never be overwhelmed by misfortune. He will not experience the anger of God nor will he perish by an unprovided death. The sinner will be converted; the just will persevere in grace and merit eternal life.
7. Those truly devoted to my Rosary sahll not die without the sacraments of the Church.
8. Those who are faithful to recite my Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plentitude of His graces and will share in the merits of the blessed.
9. I will deliver promptly from purgatory souls devoted to my Rosary.
10. True children of my Rosary will enjoy great glory in heaven.
11. What you shall ask through my Rosary you shall obtain.
12. To those who propagate my Rosary I promise aid in all their necessities.
13. I have obtained from my Son that all the members of the Rosary Confraternity shall have as their intercessors, in life and in death, the entire ecclesial court.
14. Those who recite the Rosary faithfully are my beloved children, the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.
15. Devotion to my Rosary is a special sign of predestination.
The benefits of reciting the Holy Rosary:
1. It gradually brings us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ.
2. It purifies our souls from sin.
3. It gives us victory over all our enemies.
4.It makes the practice of virtue easy.
5. It sets us on fire with the love of our Lord.
6. It enriches us with graces and merits
7. It supplies us with what is needed to pay all our debts to God, and to our fellowmen, and finally, it obtains all kinds of graces from God. ( The Secret of the Rosary, 27th Rose, St. Louis de Montfort).
Fr. Peter Mascarenhas, SMM, Director, Montfort Marian Centre, Montfort Fathers, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org