Today on Perspectives, Pope Emeritus Benedict and Pope Francis welcome the statue of Our Lady of Fatima, the Secretary of State resigns and Canada has a new bishop.
A Reflection on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary – October 7, 2013
The Word of God has power to touch the lives of ordinary people through solid piety, authentic devotion and attentiveness to the living Word. The Word of God deals with the living communities of faith who have handed down the message to us, a message that keeps alive our community of faith. For many people who do not have the luxury, privilege, money, time or perhaps desire to delve into serious Scripture studies, their only encounter with the Word of God might be through the liturgy or popular piety and devotion. And one beautiful way of encountering the Word of God is through the rosary.
Mary, “Mother of God’s Word” and “Mother of Faith”
From the Annunciation to Pentecost Mary appears as a woman completely open to the will of God. She is the Immaculate Conception, the one whom God made “full of grace” (cf. Lk 1:28) and unconditionally docile to his word (cf. Lk 1:38). Her obedient faith shapes her life at every moment before God’s plan. A Virgin ever attentive to God’s word, she lives completely attuned to that word; she treasures in her heart the events of her Son, piecing them together as if in a single mosaic (cf. Lk 2:19,51).
Mary is the image of the Church in attentive hearing of the word of God, which took flesh in her. Mary also symbolizes openness to God and others; an active listening which interiorizes and assimilates, one in which the word becomes a way of life.
Mary was very familiar with the word of God. This is clearly evident in the Magnificat. There we see in some sense how she identifies with the word, enters into it; in this marvelous canticle of faith, the Virgin sings the praises of the Lord in his own words: The Magnificat – a portrait, so to speak, of her soul – is entirely woven from threads of Holy Scripture, threads drawn from the word of God. Here we see how completely at home Mary is with the word of God, with ease she moves in and out of it. She speaks and thinks with the word of God; the word of God becomes her word, and her word issues from the word of God. Here we see how her thoughts are attuned to the thoughts of God, how her will is one with the will of God. Since Mary is completely imbued with the word of God, she is able to become the Mother of the Word Incarnate.
As we contemplate in the Mother of God a life totally shaped by the word, we realize that we too are called to enter into the mystery of faith, whereby Christ comes to dwell in our lives. Every Christian believer, Saint Ambrose reminds us, in some way interiorly conceives and gives birth to the word of God: even though there is only one Mother of Christ in the flesh, in the faith Christ is the progeny of us all. Thus, what took place for Mary can daily take place in each of us, in the hearing of the word and in the celebration of the sacraments.
The word of God and Marian prayer
A most helpful aid, for example, is the individual or communal recitation of the Holy Rosary, which ponders the mysteries of Christ’s life in union with Mary, and which Pope John Paul II wished to enrich with the mysteries of light. It is fitting that the announcement of each mystery be accompanied by a brief biblical text pertinent to that mystery, so as to encourage the memorization of brief biblical passages relevant to the mysteries of Christ’s life.
The Angelus is another simple yet profound prayer, allowing us to commemorate daily the mystery of the Incarnate Word. It is only right that the People of God, families and communities of consecrated persons, be faithful to this Marian prayer traditionally recited at sunrise, midday and sunset. In the Angelus we ask God to grant that, through Mary’s intercession, we may imitate her in doing his will and in welcoming his word into our lives. This practice can help us to grow in an authentic love for the mystery of the incarnation.
The Rosary, Theology and Ministry
In modern times successive popes have urged the faithful to pray the Rosary. It is a form of contemplative prayer, mental and vocal prayer, which brings down God’s blessing on the Church. It is a biblically inspired prayer centered on meditation on the salvific mysteries of Christ in union with Mary, who was so closely associated with her Son in his redeeming activity.
The Rosary is Christocentric setting forth the entire life of Jesus Christ, the passion, death, resurrection and glory. Of course, the Rosary honors and contemplates Mary too, and rightly so, for the same reason that the Liturgical Year does likewise: “Because of the mission she received from God, her life is most closely linked with the mysteries of Jesus Christ, and there is no one who has followed in the footsteps of the Incarnate Word more closely and with more merit than she” (Mediator Dei).
Meditation on this cycle of Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous Mysteries makes the Rosary not only a breviary or summary of the Gospel and of Christian life but also a compendium of the Liturgical Year. The Rosary stands revealed as a dynamic teacher and nurturer of Christian faith, morality, and spiritual perfection, fostering in various ways faith, hope, charity, and the other virtues, and mediating special graces, all to the end that we may become more and more like unto Christ.
In a visit to the Roman Basilica of St. Mary Major on May 3, 2008, Pope Benedict XVI prayed the rosary with the faithful and spoke these words:
Today, together we confirm that the Holy Rosary is not a pious practice banished to the past, like prayers of other times thought of with nostalgia. Instead, the Rosary is experiencing a new springtime. Without a doubt, this is one of the most eloquent signs of love that the young generation nourish for Jesus and his Mother, Mary.
In the current world, so dispersive, this prayer helps to put Christ at the centre, as the Virgin did, who meditated within all that was said about her Son, and also what he did and said.
When reciting the Rosary, the important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived. The various steps of Christ’s mission are traced.
With Mary the heart is oriented toward the mystery of Jesus. Christ is put at the centre of our life, of our time, of our city, through the contemplation and meditation of his holy mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory.”
Let us take to hear Pope Benedict’s moving words:
“May Mary help us to welcome within ourselves the grace emanating from these mysteries, so that through us we can “water” society, beginning with our daily relationships, and purifying them from so many negative forces, thus opening them to the newness of God. The Rosary, when it is prayed in an authentic way, not mechanical and superficial but profoundly, it brings, in fact, peace and reconciliation. It contains within itself the healing power of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, invoked with faith and love at the centre of each “Hail Mary”.
Kaire, kekaritormene! Hail Mary, “you who have allowed yourself to be transformed by God’s grace.” Pray for us!
Image: Our Lady of the Rosary
February 11 will long be remembered as the day Pope Benedict announced his resignation – the first pontiff in 600 years to do so. But do you recall the event during which he made his stunning declaration? The Holy Father had convoked a meeting of cardinals to vote on three causes for canonization. As expected, the cardinals confirmed the blesseds, whose record of sanctity had already satisfied the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. And then Benedict read the Latin text that left the cardinals in stunned silence.
Just over three months later, those blesseds will be proclaimed saints under a new pontificate. Salt + Light will air the Canonization Mass this Sunday at 9:30am ET/6:30am PT, repeating in French at 4:00pm ET / 1:00pm PT.
So who are the new Saints? Before the consistory in February, Vatican Radio published a profile of each of them: Blessed Antonio Primaldo and companions, Blessed Maria Guadalupe Garcia Zavala, and Blessed Laura of Saint Catherine of Siena (shown above).
Blessed Antonio was a tailor in the city of Otranto, Italy, in the 1400s. In 1480 the city was invaded by Turkish Muslims who threatened to kill all the men, but promised to grant their lives and the freedom of their women and children if they renounced their faith.
Antonio remained firm, and encouraged his fellow citizens to stand strong in their faith. He was the first to be beheaded, followed by 799 others. Relics of the Blessed Martyrs of Otranto are held in the Cathedral crypt.
Photo credit: CNS photo/Fredy Builes, Reuters
Photo caption: Pope Francis greeting Fr. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., at Audience for Journalists following the Papal election on Saturday, March 16, 2013 at the Vatican. Courtesy of L’Osservatore Romano photographic service.
The following article appeared in the Catholic Courier of the Diocese of Rochester, New York on May 2, 2013.
Basilian Father Thomas Rosica is a Rochester native who attended Nazareth Hall, St. Ambrose School, Aquinas Institute and St. John Fisher College before being ordained to the priesthood for the Congregation of St. Basil by Bishop Emeritus Matthew H. Clark on April 19, 1986, at St. Ambrose Church, Rochester. Chief executive officer for the past decade of Canada’s Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation in Toronto, Father Rosica assisted in the Holy See Press Office with media relations subsequent to the resignation of Benedict XVI through the election of Pope Francis. Father Rosica agreed to our request that he offer some reflections on the experience for his hometown readers.
February 11, 2013, did not only shift the plates of the earth for the church, but marked a seismic shift in my life. Early that morning in Rome, the pope resigned and caught the world and the church off guard. When my colleague and friend, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, phoned and asked me to come quickly to Rome to assist him, I understood that help was needed in dealing with a deluge of media requests in the aftermath of the pope’s surprise resignation.
Having run World Youth Day in Canada in 2002, founded and led Salt and Light Catholic Television Network in Canada since 2003, and served as the Vatican-appointed media attaché at two world Synods of Bishops in 2008 and 2012, I had some idea of media work for the church. But nothing came close to the daunting experience of serving as a Vatican spokesperson during Lent 2013. The adventure included a papal resignation, the sede vacante (or interregnum), a conclave taking place without the atmosphere of a papal funeral, and the surprise election of the first pope from the Americas — not just any pope, but a Jesuit pope — the first modern pope to have been ordained to the priesthood after the Second Vatican Council.
Over the next month, I experienced not a deluge but a tsunami of images, stories, encounters, people and opportunities that would change the life and direction of the church! Thank God I was accompanied by one of the young producers from Salt and Light Television in Canada, Sebastian Gomes. Together we worked day and night, and Sebastian kept me steady through the experience. [Read more...]
In today’s snapshot of Pope Benedict’s papacy we remember his meeting with children on March 24, 2012 in Peace Square, Guanajuato, Mexico. A joyous occasion marked with tremendous significance for the Church, in Mexico, and around the world.
CNS photo/Paul Haring
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
When this story broke, I started receiving texts from all my friends, many of them far from church-minded, asking what this meant. I suppose in a world where the Church is so often perceived to be shackled by the traditions and precedents of the past, it would be surprising to hear of a Pope breaking with tradition — a 600 year old one at that.
In fact, one friend asked in jest (I’ll save you from the colourful part that preceded this statement), ” …the Pope! You can resign that?!” Humour and incredulity aside, the answer as we all know by now is yes, it’s possible. [Read more...]