When I first became Catholic a few years ago, I never really pictured myself as a Rosary prayer… I foolishly assumed that getting together to pray the Rosary was something most often done by the elderly women of the parish. Boy, was I ever wrong about that! It didn’t take but a few months and I found myself wanting to learn and pray this brilliant devotion as much as I could.
While reciting this prayer, we are to focus on the mysteries of our Lord’s life. From the Annunciation of His birth, to His Mother’s coronation as Queen of Heaven and Earth, and all the Glory in between. Through the intercession of His Blessed Mother, this prayer leads us all closer to the Heart of Jesus. Nothing in this world can be better than that.
The mysteries, when meditated upon, seem to even become more Sacred, special, and equally beautiful. However, I do have some favorites…I love the Luminous Mysteries. Thus making Thursday, my favorite Rosary day.
I love the ancient traditions of the Catholic Church. The glorious history of the Church Fathers, the Martyrs, and the crusading knights. So, I was surprised to learn that the Mysteries of Light were new additions to the Rosary. I did some research and I found that there are a lot of devout traditional Catholics that felt the addition of new mysteries was unnecessary. That more than anything took me by surprise. One of the main reasons I became Catholic was because I love the Tradition, the reverence, and the awe that we get to experience with every Mass. But I fail to see how any Catholic could find fault with these newly added mysteries. St. John Paul II in his Apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae ( The Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary) recommended these mysteries to be added. Though not written as a proclamation from the Chair of St. Peter, this was simply a Holy recommendation. The Pontiff himself says it best in this very letter, Chapter 2, number 19 last paragraph…
Consequently, for the Rosary to become more fully a “compendium of the Gospel”, it is fitting to add, following reflection on the Incarnation and the hidden life of Christ (the joyful mysteries) and before focusing on the sufferings of his Passion (the sorrowful mysteries) and the triumph of his Resurrection (the glorious mysteries), a meditation on certain particularly significant moments in his public ministry (the mysteries of light). This addition of these new mysteries, without prejudice to any essential aspect of the prayer’s traditional format, is meant to give it fresh life and to enkindle renewed interest in the Rosary’s place within Christian spirituality as a true doorway to the depths of the Heart of Christ, ocean of joy and of light, of suffering and of glory.
St. John Paul II hoped to renew interest in praying the Rosary in order to bring folks closer to Heart of Christ. For me, as a new Catholic, that just makes these mysteries all the more special.
Tradition tells us that St. Dominic, in the early 13th century, had a apparition from the Blessed Mother and she instructed him to preach the Rosary. And preach he did. The Rosary was prayed to help quell heresies and to protect Christianity from invaders.
The Rosary was used for the first time in battle during The Battle of Muret, 1213. The Catholic forces, led by Simon De Montfort defeated the Albigenses forces. At the suggestion of St. Dominic himself, the rosary was prayed and credit for the victory was given to the prayer. Thus, the first chapel dedicated to the Rosary was built by Simon De Montfort, in the town of Muret.
The Battle of Lepanto, October 7, 1571 probably exists as the most famous battle attributed to the use of the Rosary. St Pius V organized a fleet to fight the Muslim Turks in the Gulf of Patras in Ottoman controlled Greece. The Holy Father asked the faithful of Rome to pray the Rosary under the title of Our Lady of Victory, in order to grant victory to the Christians. Though out numbered and out manned by vessels and sailors, the Muslims were defeated. The following year, Pope Pius V established the Feast of the Holy Rosary on October 7th.
Throughout the centuries, the Rosary has been prayed devoutly. Often in dark times, the devotion is turned to in a heroic manner as a desperate plea for God’s help.. Reflect for a moment about Father Patrick Duffy. The tough Chaplain praying the Rosary with his troops in World War One. The famous Fighting 69th….. And we certainly can’t forget the other Father Duffy. Father John E Duffy, served his fellow troops in Japanese POW camps. Bayoneted 3 times in Bataan and left for dead, he survived and joined the Filipino guerrillas until he was captured in 1943. He often prayed the Rosary will being beaten and tortured.
I love reading about all these stories of heroism and how these brave men and women turned to God for help in their great time of need. I guess that makes me somewhat of a romantic and it does inspire me to practice praying the Rosary devoutly. But, that is man’s way of thinking. The tales of heroic knights, saints and sinners, gallant battles, victories and losses are truly great things to us here on earth. However, compared to the actual mysteries, they are dust and insignificant. The Rosary has one purpose, to get us closer to the Heart of Jesus.
Meditating on these mysteries reminds us how great our Lord truly is. The Rosary began during the latter part of the so called Dark Ages. St. John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries just 15 years ago. We desperately need that light, for I believe the dark ages are making a comeback. The party in power currently of our great country advocates abortion on demand, and euthanasia. Religious freedom is under attack. The Bill of Rights could be an archaic document of our past. People in the USA now can get fined and imprisoned for exercising their beliefs. Recently, a couple in Oregon received a six figure fine and lost their business because they refused to bake a wedding cake for a gay wedding. And in the Middle East, Christians are beheaded, tortured and raped. That looks like a bleak future. Yet we Christians have access to an ocean of joy and light. With faith, hope, and charity for all, in accordance with the Gospels, we will prevail. We all need to pray and do whatever it takes to get closer to the Heart of Jesus, and stand together in unity in His name.