This Wednesday, October 7, is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Pope St. Pius V established it as a feast in 1573 to thank God for the victory of the Christians in the Battle of Lepanto, a victory attributed to the intercession of the Blessed Mother through the praying of the rosary. Pope Clement XI extended the celebration of the feast to the universal Church in 1716.
The development of the rosary has a long history. First the practice developed of praying 150 Our Fathers in imitation of praying the 150 Psalms. Then there was a parallel practice of praying 150 Hail Mary’s. Soon a mystery of Jesus’ life was attached to each Hail Mary.
Though the Blessed Mother’s giving the rosary to St. Dominic is recognized as a pious legend, the development and promotion of this prayer form owes much to the members of the Dominican Order. One of them, Alan de la Roche, was known as the “Apostle of the Rosary.”
During the 16th century the rosary was further developed to include fifteen mysteries: Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious. Pope St. John Paul II added five Luminous Mysteries to the rosary in 2002.
The purpose of praying the rosary is to help us mediate on the mysteries of our salvation. So often people think of the rosary as a Marian prayer, however it is truly a Christ-centered prayer. Pope Pius XII called it a compendium of the gospel. The main focus is on Jesus; his birth, life, death, and resurrection. The praying of the Our Father at the beginning of each decade reminds us that Jesus’ Father is the initiator of salvation. The Hail Mary’s remind us to join with our Blessed Mother in meditating upon these mysteries. They also make us aware that Mary was and is intimately joined with her Son in all the mysteries of his earthly life and heavenly existence. The Glory Be reminds us that the purpose of all life is the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.
The praying of the rosary appeals to many as it is a simple prayer. The repetition of the words creates a background in which to contemplate the mysteries of God. We sense that Jesus and Mary are with us in the joys and sorrows of life, and we grow in hope that God will bring us to share in the glory of Jesus and Mary in heaven.
Pope Francis strongly encourages us, especially during this time of global pandemic, to pray the rosary every day. While it is primarily a private prayer, it is a good prayer for the entire family, an easy one to teach that will last a lifetime! Why not add this practice to your family life so as to enter into a deeper union with Jesus and Mary. Wonderful things will happen as a result of it.
– Fr. Dennis, October 4, 2020