Monday, August 16, 2010

Reflections on the Rosary: Introduction

It has been said that riding to one’s own coronation would be a joyful thing even if the ride wasn’t too particularly pleasant, and that riding to one’s own execution would be a dreadful thing even if the ride was in a limousine. So which one of these situations are you and I in and what is our destination?

Quo vadis? Where are you going?

I think this is a question most of us fail to consider. We’re typically too caught up in our everyday lives to think about the long term – indeed the eternal long term. Ask anyone why they went to school and they’ll tell you it was to be educated. And when you ask them why they were educated, they’ll tell you it was to get a job. Keep pressing them and they’ll tell you all about getting married, raising a family, and retiring to some tropical island. But then what? What was it all for?

Quo vadis?

This may seem like an odd way to open a series of posts on the Rosary, but too often we can’t get past seeing a string of beads with a crucifix dangling from it – and if we do, the thought of praying fifty “Hail Mary’s” seems daunting at best and perhaps even idolatrous at worst. Most people miss out on the fact that the Rosary is a meditation on the mysteries contained in the Gospel. Through this prayer we walk the life of Christ and quite literally pray the Gospel. In the Joyful Mysteries, we dwell on the Annunciation and the early life of Christ, the Luminous Mysteries contemplate the public ministry of Christ, and in the Sorrowful Mysteries we prayerfully join Christ in his passion and death.

But there are also the Glorious Mysteries. In the Rosary we encounter Christ in a new way and we are given Mary as a model of Christian sanctity – and this is particularly true when praying the Glorious Mysteries. The Rosary is certainly a journey with Christ, but it is also a reaffirmation of what God does in the lives of the faithful. Mary certainly didn’t have it easy. She is told that a sword of pain will pierce her heart just as much as the heart of her Son would be pierced (see Luke 2:35). Mary’s “yes” brought God into the world, but she would one day watch as her divine Son would be tortured and murdered by his own people. But Catholics believe her faithfulness was not without future glory because we believe she was taken by God into heaven body and soul and that she now reigns as Queen Mother with her kingly Son. The Rosary thus reminds us of this glory and gives us a renewed hope of our future resurrection from the dead into glory with all the angels and saints.

In the coming posts, I’ll be taking a closer look at the Rosary and its many mysteries. In the meantime, I would strongly recommend praying it and dwelling on the mysteries as best as possible, recounting that these events actually happened in human history so as to bring about our new lives in Christ – and this will be particularly true for me in that I have been gifted with a Rosary from the Holy Land making the whole prayer that much more concrete!

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