Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Chapter 18

The Rosary--most mysterious of Catholic devotions. Protestants who want to argue that we over-value Mary and diminish Christ will just do a simple tally of the prayers in the rosary. The Decades alone favor prayer to Mary 10 to 1.....

Slowly I came to realize that I could--and should--ask Mary to pray with me,just as I would ask any of my friends in the here and now. Learning to trust the acquired wisdom of the Church can be difficult when, as Kelly says, it is so simple and so direct and so "old fashioned." But the rosary--and the faith it helps develop--has helped many a Saint in times of trouble. Simple the rosary may be--but it is also powerful. Catholics today would find great benefit in embracing it again as their families did in the past, in an act of simple, clear, devotion. After all, does not Christ honor such simple and direct faith? And did He not give His mother to us? What is more natural than a child--even an older one l with grown children of his own--wanting to talk to his mother?

Even without a great deal of aversion to the rosary--and an instinctive attraction to it (something restful about those beads...), I found it hard to embrace the practice It somehow seemed like "putting on airs." Praying the rosary is, after all, elective. No need to get too Catholic about all this.....

But there is. It's just not possible, in my opinion, to fully understand the Christian faith, and enter into its practice in the Catholic Church without coming to grips with the importance and relevance of Mary. I found myself finding Mary everywhere I turned as I read more and more about my newfound faith, and whenever I found her, she pointed squarely to Jesus.

It ought not be a great surprise. God chose Mary to bring forth His son and to present Him to the world. Why on earth would that role stop?

It was interesting to me to read the Marian litany and realize all the titles that are given Mary (and that Protestants object to) make sense when you see her in relationship to Christ. (see: http://www.wf-f.org/LitanyBVM.html)

Mother of God--well, mother of Christ who is God, so--yes. Mother of Good Counsel? Christ is the definitive Good Counsel, she is His mother, so--yes. Mother of Divine Grace? Well, Christ is Divine Grace, so ---yes. Morning Star (which points us to our destination); Ark of the Covenant (which contained the tablets of the Law, the Manna from the desert and the priestly rod of Aaron--all foreshadowing Christ); Mother most Amiable (who said yes to god)...the list goes on and on, each one revealing a little more about Mary and thus a little more about us and our relationship to her Son.

So, I undertook to learn the rosary. It wasn't easy, and I really came to realize how much of myself prayer is intended to involve: my physical being, in voice and beads, and my mind at all levels, in trying to remember unfamiliar words and mysteries, meditate on them and still make intercessions. Had it not been for the gift of a CD, I'd never have made it.

I persevered. I came to love the devotion and the time with my mother and His, in which we just--talk. Like mother and daughter. Sometimes like two mothers. Sometimes like sisters. But always knowing that she will listen, and take my poor words, tidy them up, and as she did in Cana, simply present them to Him in expectation that He will do what is needed. And I hear her say likewise to me, "Do whatever He tells you."

In public recitation, it's given that only the traditional 20 mysteries are used. But I have found that I can meditate on the Gospel in different ways, using Mary's eyes, depending on my need. I have a list of miracles for the days when I am feeling disconnected from the power of God. A list of healings when praying for sick friends. A list of temptations for those days that threaten to derail me. A list of incidents with St. Peter when I am overwhelmed by my own ineptitude. A list that reminds me of the call to holiness, when I lose sight of my center. I pray mostly in English but have learned to pray in Latin and Spanish as well, finding that the ease of the foreign words on my tongue helps remind me of the mystery of God and frees me to meditate without the words getting in the way. And some days, I just remember the few recorded words of Mary and like her, ponder it all in my heart.

When I came into the Church, I could not imagine my life with the rosary, so foreign it seemed. Now, I cannot imagine my life without it, so much a part of my days it has become

In His Service, and under Mary's loving gaze---Martha.

1 comment:

  1. As a former protestant I too struggled with Mariology. Finally my heart gave way when trying to pray the second joyful mystery. I came to Elizabeth words “What is this that the mother of our Lord comes to me” and my heart melted.
    This is a fitting time to reflect on the Rosary as October is the month of the Rosary. Why you ask? Here is a little history.
    Battle of Lepanto
    On October 7, 1571, a great victory over the mighty Turkish fleet was won by Catholic naval forces primarily from Spain, Venice, and Genoa under the command of Don Juan of Austria. It was the last battle at sea between "oared" ships, which featured the most powerful navy in the world, a Moslem force with between 12,000 to 15,000 Christian slaves as rowers. The patchwork team of Catholic ships was powered by the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
    Knowing that the Christian forces were at a distinct material disadvantage, the holy pontiff, St. Pope Pius V called for all of Europe to pray the Rosary for victory. We know today that the victory was decisive, prevented the Islamic invasion of Europe, and evidenced the Hand of God working through Our Lady. At the hour of victory, St. Pope Pius V, who was hundreds of miles away at the Vatican, is said to have gotten up from a meeting, went over to a window, and exclaimed with supernatural radiance: "The Christian fleet is victorious!" and shed tears of thanksgiving to God.
    What you may not know is that one of three admirals commanding the Catholic forces at Lepanto was Andrea Doria. He carried a small copy of Mexico's Our Lady of Guadalupe into battle. This image is now enshrined in the Church of San Stefano in Aveto, Italy. Not many know that at the Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Spain, one can view a huge warship lantern that was captured from the Moslems in the Battle of Lepanto. In Rome, look up to the ceiling of S. Maria in Aracoeli and behold decorations in gold taken from the Turkish galleys. In the Doges' Palace in Venice, Italy, one can witness a giant Islamic flag that is now a trophy from a vanquished Turkish ship from the Victory. At Saint Mary Major Basilica in Rome, close to the tomb of the great St. Pope Pius V, one was once able to view yet another Islamic flag from the Battle, until 1965, when it was returned to Istanbul in an intended friendly token of concord.
    The Rosary
    At Lepanto, the Victory over the Moslems was won by the faithful praying the Rosary. Even though they had superior numbers, the Turks really were overmatched. Blessed Padre Pio, the Spiritual Father of the Blue Army, said: "The Rosary is the weapon," and how right he was!
    The Battle of Lepanto was at first celebrated liturgically as "Our Lady of Victory." Later, the feast of October 7th was renamed "Our Lady of the Rosary" and extended throughout the Universal Church by Pope Clement XI in 1716 (who canonized Pope Pius V in 1712).
    And with that we are back to Fatima, Portugal where Our Lady, when asked her name, said: "I am the Lady of the Rosary." At Fatima, Our Lady taught us to pray the Rosary every day. Heaven presented its peace plan at Fatima and truly gave us hope for the world. Conversions were promised at Fatima: the conversion of sinners; the conversion of Russia; and what also appears to be the conversion of Islam. Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us!

    Taken from:
    Soul Magazine
    © 2001 The Blue Army of Our Lady of Fatima, U.S.A., Inc.
    September - October 2001, page 6