The devotion of the Rosary has tremendous power and substance. It does not involve merely emotions, but is serious and full of reflection. Through it, the spiritual life of the Catholic is built up as a solid and splendid edifice of certainties.
To fully understand the value of devotion to the Holy Rosary, let us examine it more closely.
After being given directly by Our Lady to St. Dominic of Guzman, devotion to the Rosary spread rapidly throughout the Church, going beyond the confines of the Dominican Order and becoming the hallmark of many other Orders who began to wear it hanging from their cinctures.
There was a time when every Catholic habitually carried a rosary with him, not only as an object for counting Hail Marys, but as an instrument to attract God’s blessings.
A prayer that intimately unites us to God
What is the Rosary?
Put briefly, it is a composition of meditations on the life of Our Lord Jesus Christ and of His Blessed Mother, combined with vocal prayers. This combination of vocal and mental prayer is truly splendid, for while a petition is uttered with the lips, the mind concentrates on a certain point.
By this means, man does everything he can in the supernatural order: by his intentions, he unites himself to what his lips pronounce, and by his mind, he surrenders himself to what his spirit meditates upon.
Priests, deacons, and laymen pray the Holy Rosary at Lumen Prophetæ House, Mairiporã (Brazil) na Casa Lumen Prophetæ, Mairiporã (SP)
In this form of prayer, man unites himself intimately with God, especially since this union is formed through Mary, the Mediatrix of all graces.
Someone might ask: “What is the sense of praying vocally to Our Lady while meditating on something else? Could it not be something simpler? Would it not be easier to meditate first, and then to say ten Hail Marys?”
The answer is very simple. Each mystery contains, in its details, endless sublimities which our poor spirit seeks to fathom… Now, to do this perfectly, we need to be assisted by God’s grace, and this grace is given to us through the help of Our Lady. In short, we say the Hail Mary to ask the Blessed Virgin to obtain for us the graces needed to meditate well.
A powerful and serious devotion, full of reflection
In the Rosary, we discover small but precious theological treasures that make it a masterpiece of Catholic spirituality and doctrine.
This devotion has tremendous power and substance. It does not involve merely emotions; on the contrary, it is serious, full of reflection, with firm foundations. Through it, the spiritual life of the Catholic man is built up as a solid and splendid edifice of conclusions and certainties.
Moreover, meditation on the mysteries of the life of Our Lord and His Mother gives the faithful the opportunity to receive graces pertaining to the event that they are contemplating.
When we consider the countless graces that Mary Most Holy distributes through the recitation of the Holy Rosary, we see in it something that makes it superior to other acts of Marian piety. Now, why is this?
First of all, it is worth pointing out that Our Lady, as exalted Queen, has the right to set her preferences! And She wished to elevate this devotion above all others, distributing very special graces through the recitation of the Holy Rosary.
Resolution to always pray the Rosary
Our Lady of the Rosary – Monastery of St. Dominic of Guzman, Madrid (Spain)
An incident in the life of St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori shows us that, particularly during a great struggle, the Rosary is a pledge of victory.
While the Saint was being guided in a wheelchair through the corridors of the convent by a brother of his Order, he asked if they had prayed the whole Rosary. The brother replied:
“I don’t remember.”
“Let us pray it, then” said St. Alphonsus.
“But you are tired! What harm is there in not saying the Rosary today?”
“I fear for my eternal salvation if I neglect to say it for just one day.”
This is precisely what we should think and feel: the Rosary is the great guarantee of our final perseverance. We must ask the Blessed Virgin for the grace to pray it every day of our life.
Let us never forsake it!
The Rosary is the prayer of the strong, the prayer of warriors, for it has such efficacy that it makes evil retreat and good advance. It binds the faithful to Our Lady and drives away the devil, who hates and fears Her.
To those who are tempted, I give this recommendation: hold the Rosary! But physically hold on to it, never let it go.
Even when sleeping, try to keep the Rosary close at hand, so that you can feel it with you. And if you are afraid that it will fall to the floor – for we must treat it with all reverence – hang it around your neck or put it in your pocket.
“I would like to resurrect with the Rosary in my hands”
When our hands can no longer open or close, and when they are moved by others who assist us, let us have, as our last position of prayer, the Rosary entwined between our fingers, so that when the resurrection of the dead takes place and our bodies are brought back to life, the Holy Rosary will be there in our revived fingers.
I hope that, at the moment when all the just are called to the resurrection, my first reverent kiss will fall on the Rosary which I find in my hands.
Here, then, is a suggestion for after the resurrection. I have never heard of any counsel being given or any agreement being made for that moment, but I propose one. When we all rise from the dead, amid the radiance of the Last Judgement, let us recall: “It was agreed.” And then let us kiss the Rosary! ◊
Taken, with adaptations, from: Dr. Plinio.
São Paulo. Year XIII. No.146 (May, 2010); p.26-29
Material and Symbolic Beauty of the Rosary
In my opinion, the beauty of the Rosary is not confined merely to the spiritual excellence it offers to souls.
Its marvellous impetrative power, as well as how pleasing it is to God and to Our Lady, are also expressed in the physical form of the Rosary, which is surrounded by imponderables that make us feel the pulchritude of this devotion. There is something beautiful and inexpressible in it that seems to me supremely appropriate and irreplaceable.
I remember when I was still a student at St. Louis School, at the beginning of the 1920s, and noticed that a new type of rosary was beginning to circulate, one that was “more discreet”, in the intention of its creators. It was an object similar to certain calculating gadgets of the time, with two rows of superimposed beads: larger ones on which the Hail Marys and Our Father were counted, and smaller ones to mark the mysteries being meditated.
It was a small object, to take up the least space in the pocket and to be seen as little as possible by others. It had everything in its favour: it was practical, cheap, portable and “concealable” – which was a great advantage for Catholics with human respect. But it did not take hold…
Nothing could replace the old Rosary, the marvellous and timeless Rosary in all its various forms!
Small rosaries, graceful rosaries, elegant and delicate, for well-bred children. Modest rosaries, workers’ rosaries, heavy and rustic as manual labour so often is, but strong rosaries, their beads passing through the fingers of virile hands. Serious and manly rosaries, the rosaries of warriors. Rosaries of princesses, of queens, elaborated like veritable jewels, as are the precious rosaries that hang from the hands of the statues of Our Lady.
How many forms of rosary there are! Some speak of grace and of charm; they show something of the regal sweetness and goodness of Mary. Others make us see her as the protector of children; others as the helper of the poor and working man, like her princely husband, St. Joseph, descendant of David and a carpenter. Still others speak of the piety of the warrior, of the fighter for Catholic ideals, like St. Dominic of Guzman, who fought and defeated the Albigensian heresy with the Rosary.
Indeed, this attribute of the Rosary as a true weapon for Catholics has always attracted me in a very particular way, which is why it has always seemed to me that the Rosary together with a sword is a combination of exceptional beauty.
Once, while in Buenos Aires, I was invited to the house of a gentleman who possessed one of the most beautiful private collections of arms that I have ever seen. Exquisitely arranged in showcases and on shelves, there were all kinds of arms, but most especially, several types of swords.
As I contemplated them, this thought occurred to me: “If I were on familiar terms with this man, I would suggest to him to acquire a collection of rosaries as rich as that of his swords. And that each day, on a beautiful table arranged in the centre of the room and covered with a prestigious cloth, he would place a new sword and rosary in honour of an image of Our Lady that would preside over the whole collection.”
I believe that his private museum would take on another life and richness, so well do the rosary and the sword combine.
And it is not too much to insist on this truth: for the Catholic, the Rosary is a magnificent weapon of war. A weapon for that most important and sublime warfare, which is the spiritual battle which is part of the life of every man; a warfare which we wage daily against the temptations and snares of the devil who seeks to bring our souls to perdition; a warfare, therefore, in which we fight to resist the onslaughts of the enemy of our salvation, to drive him out, to defeat him and to prepare our hearts to receive God’s graces. ◊
Taken, with adaptations, from: Dr. Plinio.
São Paulo. Year V. No.56 (Nov., 2002); p.17-19