Today we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. It is a special feast for us as Dominicans as according to Catholic tradition, in the 13th century, Mary, the Mother of God appeared to our Holy Father St Dominic gave him the Rosary and asked him that instead of praying the psalms on the beads or knots, as was tradition in ancient times, the faithful pray the Hail Mary, Our Father and the Glory Be. St Dominic was able to succeed in his mission to preach the gospel not by preaching alone but with the help of the rosary. He had a gift from Our Lady to help and guide him.
I am sure at some stage we have all turned to Our Lady to ask for help and guidance, in times of trouble, illness, financial difficulties, seeking employment, to ask for her help when studying for exams. We turn to Our Lady in prayer with our petitions and requests. Each year millions of pilgrims travel to Marian shrines across the globe to ask for her help. And many Churches through out our country offer weekly devotions and annual novenas in honour of our lady. So in our need we turn to Our Lady.
But what would you think if I was to say to you that Our Lady needs us, as we need her, that the Queen of Heaven and earth needs us, that the Mother of God needs us? Our Lady is depending on us to help her. She continues to help us from heaven but she depends on each one of us to help her.
We know from her many apparitions that she is depending on our Rosaries. She is depending on our Rosaries to help her achieve her role in Gods plan for the world. In 1917 in Fatima, Our Lady said: ‘Continue to say the Rosary every day in honour of Our Lady in order to obtain peace for the world’ and she revealed herself as ‘Our Lady of the Rosary’. When she appeared in Lourdes she never appeared before the group had begun to pray the rosary and she only departed after they had finished praying the Rosary. And she prayed the rosary with Bernadette.
Pope John Paul II in his Angelus address on Oct 29th 1978, shortly after his elevation as Pope, stated: ‘The Rosary is my favourite prayer, a marvellous prayer in its simplicity and in its depth’
In my own life, in recent years I’ve prayed the Rosary on a daily basis as a Dominican, and there are a couple of things I’ve come to realise.
I sometimes feel that I could pray the Rosary better: I’ve often been guilty of losing count of the beads, letting my mind wander and think of everything else but the mysteries, but it is really not possible to pray the rosary badly, and we are never worse off for praying it. Our Lady accepts our gift as a mother accepts gifts from here young children.
Another thing I’ve noticed is how my attitude to Our Lady has changed over the last few years. Before I started praying the Rosary on a regular basis I didn’t really have a strong devotion to Our Lady. I hardly knew her. It’s only through praying the Rosary that I’ve come to know her. This is something true for all of us: if you pray the Rosary you will come to know Our Lady. She is our mother, she loves us and she constantly prays for us and when we pray the Rosary she takes us by the hand and we walk together with her through the life of her son, Jesus.
Both the divinity and humanity of Jesus are presented in the Rosary. Only God could be born of a virgin, rise from the dead, and ascend into heaven, and yet only a man could be born, get lost, be found, suffer and die. Meditating on the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries helps us to confirm that Jesus is both divine and human. Contemplating the time when Jesus was crowned with thorns, scourged with whips and nailed to the cross convinces us that those sufferings are real and only a real man could feel such pain and agony. Yet reflecting on his transfiguration, resurrection, and ascension reminds us that only God can transfigure, rise from the dead, and ascend into heaven. By praying the rosary we reaffirm with Our Lady, that Jesus is true God and true man, one divine person with two natures – divine and human. In praying the Rosary, Mary not only points the way to Christ, Jesus also points to his mother. Look what he has done for her!
Let us trust in Our Lady, let us give her our Rosaries and she will use them. It is a wonderfully flexible prayer; it doesn’t depend on spending long hours on your knees in the church. We can fit it into the spare moments of our busy day: on the bus, at the bus stop, in the car, in the kitchen, wherever it may be.
In Fatima in 1982 JPII addressed the pilgrims there: ‘Do you want me to teach you a ‘secret’? It is simple, and it is no longer a secret; pray, pray very much; recite the Rosary every day’. Let us do that and our rewards will be great
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.