On the feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Rosary (7 October)
By Fr Gabriel of St Mary Magdalene | 4 October 2023
Meditation from Divine Intimacy.
O most holy Virgin, may the Rosary be my spiritual armour and my school of virtue.
The feast of 7 October is a manifestation of gratitude for the great victories won by the Christian people through the power of Mary’s Rosary; it is also the most beautiful and authoritative testimony of the value of this prayer. The liturgy of the day is not only a commentary on the Rosary, but an amplification of it: the three hymns of the Office, as well as the antiphons of Matins and Lauds, review its different mysteries; the lessons chant its glories, and the continual references to the Virgin who “blossomed as it were, among the flowers, surrounded by roses and lilies of the valley” are a clear allusion to the mystical crowns of roses which Mary’s devoted children weave at her feet when they recite the Rosary.
This feast tells us that to honour the Rosary is to honour Mary, for the Rosary is simply a meditation on Our Lady’s life, accompanied by the devout recitation of the Hail Mary. It is for this reason that the Church praises this practice and recommends it so insistently to the faithful. “O God,” she prays in today’s collect, “grant that meditating on the mysteries of the most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may both imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise.”
The Rosary, if recited well, is both prayer and instruction; its mysteries tell us that, in Mary’s life, everything is judged in relation to God: her joy and consolation found in all that gives pleasure to God; her sorrows are, so to speak, the very sorrows of God, who being made man, willed to suffer for the sins of mankind. Mary’s only joy is Jesus: to be His Mother, to clasp Him in her arms, to offer Him for the adoration of the world, to contemplate Him in the glory of His Resurrection, to be united to Him in Heaven. Mary’s unique sorrow is the Passion of Jesus: to see Him betrayed, scourged, crowned with thorns, and crucified by our sins. This, then, is the first fruit which we must gather from the recitation of the Rosary: to judge all the events of our life according to their relation to God, to rejoice in what gives Him pleasure, in what unites us to Him, to suffer for sin which separates us from Him and is the cause of the Passion and death of Jesus.
The second fruit that we should derive from the daily recitation of the Rosary is a penetration into Christ’s mysteries; by Mary and with Mary, who opens the door to them for us, the Rosary helps us to penetrate the ineffable grandeurs of the Incarnation, Passion, and glory of Jesus. Who is there who has understood and lived these mysteries as Our Lady did? And who better than she can make us understand them? If, during the recitation of the Rosary, we really know how to put ourselves in spiritual contact with Mary and to accompany her in the various stages of her life, we shall be able to perceive something of the sentiments of her heart concerning these great mysteries which she witnessed, and in which she played such an important part; this, in turn, will serve wonderfully to nourish our souls.
Thus, our Rosary will be transformed into a quarter of an hour’s meditation — we might almost say contemplation — under Mary’s guidance. This is what Mary desires, rather than many Rosaries recited with the lips, while the mind wanders in a thousand directions! The Hail Mary, continuously repeated, should express the attitude of a soul who is striving to approach the Blessed Virgin, hastening toward her in order to be captivated by her and given insight into the divine mysteries. “Ave Maria!” the lips say, and the heart murmurs, “Teach me, O Mary, to know and love Jesus as you knew and loved Him.”
Saying the Rosary in this way requires recollection. St Teresa of Jesus says that “before beginning to recite the Rosary, let the soul think of whom it is going to address, and who it is that is speaking, that it may speak to Him with due respect” (The way of perfection, 22). The Saint, with her keen wit, laughs at those people “who are so fond of repeating a large number of vocal prayers in a great hurry, as though they were anxious to finish their task of repeating them daily” (ibid. 31). Rosaries recited in this way cannot really nourish our interior life; they will bring little fruit to the soul and little glory to Mary. On the other hand, if recited with a real spirit of devotion, the Rosary becomes an effective means of cultivating devotion to Mary and of bringing us into intimacy with Our Lady and her divine Son.
“O Mary, just as there is no saint who loves God more than you love Him, so we neither have, nor could we have, after God, anyone who loves us more than you, our most loving Mother. If it were possible to bring together the love of all mothers for their children, of all wives for their husbands, of all the saints and angels for those who have devotion to them, it would not equal the love you have for one single soul, and, therefore, for my soul too.
“O Mary, since you love me, make me resemble you. You have all power to change hearts: take my heart, then, and transform it. Make me a saint, make me your worthy child.
“Let others ask for what they will: health, riches, worldly advantages; I come to ask you, O Mary, for those things which you yourself desire for me and which are very dear to your heart. You, who were so humble, obtain for me humility and a love for contempt. You, so patient in the sorrows of this life, obtain for me patience in adversity. You who were filled with love for God, obtain for me the gift of pure, holy love. You were all charity toward your neighbour; obtain for me charity toward all, and especially toward those who are opposed to me. O Mary, you who are the holiest of all creatures, make me holy. You lack neither love nor power; you can and you will obtain everything for me. Only my failure to have recourse to you and my want of confidence in your aid can prevent me from receiving your favours.”St Alphonsus