The month of October is dedicated to Our Lady and her Most Holy Rosary. Perhaps we can focus our thoughts on this wonderful devotion and its impact on the life of the Church in the last centuries. The Rosary has been called the prayer of everyone, from the most to the least educated. Everyone can pray this prayer in a meditative way that gives an insight into the life of Christ, as seen through the prism of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
I have the privilege of reciting the Rosary on the New Evangelization TV (NET-TV). The settings are from the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph, Cathedral Preparatory School and Seminary, Little Sisters of the Poor Queen of Peace Residence, and Monastery of the Precious Blood. If I am home, I put on NET-TV when it is on and recite the Rosary again with myself. Devotion to the Blessed Mother has a special place in our Catholic faith and in my own spirituality.
As I travel around the Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens, especially after celebrating the Eucharist, there are always people who remind me that they recite the Rosary with me at some particular time of the day. Even some people believe that the recitation of the Rosary is a live presentation and that I am present four times each day. I politely explain that the Rosary was taped; however, our ratings show that this Rosary is the most watched program on NET-TV.
The repetition of the Our Father and the Hail Mary, beginning with our Profession of Faith, puts us in direct contact with our Heavenly Father and allows us to pray through the mysteries of the Rosary, recognizing Mary’s part in the mystery of redemption.
Our Blessed Mother was not present at all of the events, especially those that are prayed in the new Luminous Mysteries. We can see and imagine the presence of Mary in the key events of the life of Jesus, since she is so critical in the work of Jesus for the salvation of the world.
We know the message of Mary, both at Lourdes and Fatima, the most recent apparitions of the Blessed Mother recognized by the Church, is central to the praying of the Rosary. It is perhaps no accident that Mary entrusted this message to young children who, because of their innocence, could relate to the innocence of Mary herself and understand her message — one that is powerful and effective. We join ourselves daily to the mystery of Jesus’ work in saving the world. We participate in it ourselves through prayer, through our sacrifices and through fulfillment of our daily responsibilities.
In an effort to pass on to a new generation a love for the Rosary and our Blessed Mother, each year we hold a Rosary rally for children. This year on Oct. 30, our Catholic school children will come together to recite the Rosary and pray to the Blessed Mother at St. Joseph’s Co-Cathedral. Auxiliary Bishop James Massa will preside. Obviously, unless we teach the Marian devotion to the next generation, the Rosary will not carry with it the impact on the Church it had in the past.
St. Louis de Montfort was one of the best communicators regarding the Marian doctrine in the history of the Church. We had members of his order in our diocese for more than 150 years. Unfortunately, because of a lack of personnel, they have had to withdraw their ministry from the diocese.
Louis de Montfort, who preached the Rosary in his day, reminded us of these words that we must pray in faith, and not just recite.
“The Holy Rosary contains many mysteries of Jesus and Mary, and since faith is the only key which opens up these mysteries for us, we must begin the Rosary by saying the Creed very devoutly, and the stronger our faith the more merit our Rosary will have.”
St. Louis de Montfort gives us good advice recognizing that the recitation of the Rosary for some is not easy. However, he recommends this to all, saying it that in some sense, it is the easiest of prayers because as we recite the words of the Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be and Hail Holy Queen, our minds are free and belong to Mary, herself. Our freedom leads us on the way to contemplation.
St. Louis de Montfort has taught that we must do all things through Mary. The motto, Totus Tuus, Totally Yours, which was adopted by St. John Paul II, was coined by Montfort when he reminded us in his book, “True Devotion to Mary,” that the “Perfect practice of true devotion demands that we have the attention to ‘perform all ones actions through Mary, with Mary, in Mary and for Mary’ in order to perform them more perfectly through Jesus Christ, with Jesus Christ, in Jesus Christ and for Jesus Christ.”
In no way is our devotion to Mary separate from our devotion or prayer to Jesus, but rather strengthens it as we offer all through the intercession of Mary.
Marian devotion never separates us from the true center of our faith, Jesus, the second person in the Blessed Trinity. Mary becomes for us as our “Mediatrix of intercession,” as de Montfort also says.
Gaining the practice of the daily recitation of the Rosary sometimes is not easy to attain, however. We can begin by reciting one decade of the Rosary per day and then adding to it. Being able to understand the mysteries as we meditate on them will help us to persevere in making the Rosary part and parcel of our daily life as one of the truest forms of devotion to Mary. All of the words of Scripture contained in the Our Father and Hail Mary give us a firm basis of our faith.
As we put out into the deep during this month of October, we pray that Mary will lead us to a better union with Jesus, her Son. The old adage, to Jesus through Mary, is ever true. We pray that our Diocese in Brooklyn and Queens in honoring Mary will come ever closer to Jesus, her Son.
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As perhaps you may know, I am on the board of directors of the National Shrine. For several years now, I have enjoyed helping to make our National Shrine a special place in the life of the Church in the United States. The Shrine is still under construction and several of the domes are still unadorned.
The Redemption Dome in the main nave of the church is being completed, and soon the Incarnation Dome under the cupola will also be completed. All this is possible through the donations and support from Catholics in the United States.