we learned why, even though it’s good to (and we should) pray to God directly, it’s also good to ask for the prayers of others, especially those who, like Mary, are particularly close to God.
In fact, when we ‘pray’ to Mary, all we are doing is asking for her prayers for us. That’s the ending of the Hail Mary, “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.”
One of my favourite prayers to Mary is very simple: “Mary, Holy Mary, pray for me that I may be like Jesus, your son.”
Another version is “Mary, lead me to Jesus, your son.”
Mary wants nothing more than to lead us to her son. That’s why every prayer to Mary is really a prayer to Jesus.
Which leads me to the Rosary. The Rosary is not a mere repetition of 150 Hail Marys. The Rosary is a meditation on the life of Jesus. It's not a prayer to Mary; It's totally all about Jesus. One way to look at it is that, in (or through) the Rosary, we meditate on the life of Jesus, sort of through the eyes of Mary, seeing what she saw and hopefully, responding in the way she did.
I must admit that praying the Rosary has never been easy for me. I actually don’t like the repetition and I find it hard to meditate on the mysteries when saying the words of the Hail Mary.
Recently, however, while doing some research on St. Dominic, I came across a beautiful story that forever changed my understanding of the Rosary.
You may not know that it's St. Dominic who is responsible for the spread of the Rosary. Apparently, during the time of the Albignesian Heresy
St. Dominic spent a lot of time preaching against it. At first it was hard and he was not having much success. Then one day, so the story goes, complaining about this in prayer to Mary, she responded:
"Wonder not that you have obtained so little fruit by your labours, you have spent them on barren soil, not yet watered with the dew of Divine Grace. When God willed to renew the face of the earth, He began by sending down on it the fertilizing rain of the Angelic Salutation. Therefore preach my Psalter composed of 150 Angelic Salutations and 15 Our Fathers, and you will obtain an abundant harvest.”
The Psalter of the 150 Angelic Salutations is, of course, the Rosary.
Think about that for a second: When God wanted to renew the earth, He began by sending down upon it the fertilizing rain of the Angelic Salutation. That is when the Angel Gabriel said, “Hail Mary, full of Grace. The Lord is with you.”
Just saying those words brings down the fertilizing rain of God’s Divine Grace.
So that means that it doesn’t matter if you mutter them, or say them while thinking about supper (not that you should; you should try to mean what you say); they bring down God’s Divine Grace. Combine that with meditating on moments in the life of Jesus…. There’s nothing that can be bad about praying the Rosary – or even absentmindedly just saying the words of the Angelic Salutation! (Which I find myself doing now, more often than not.)
I still find the Rosary hard (I’m more of a Breviary
and Divine Mercy Chaplet
kind of person), but this little discovery about St. Dominic has made a huge difference in my life.
Why don’t you try it? Especially in places where you find that your prayer is not fruitful, try adding a few Hail Marys for the barren soil to be fertilized with some Divine Grace.
Next Friday, we celebrate another Marian Feast: the Birth of Mary. St. Augustine said that Mary's birth is connected to Jesus' saving work. I suppose that if we can say that God's Saving Grace began with the Visitation, could we also say that for that to happen, the soil of Mary's heart had to have been prepared? There was definitely some preventative Saving Grace at work from the moment of Mary's conception! St. Augustine says that Mary is "the flower of the field from whom bloomed the precious lily of the valley."
That's something to think about as we make it through the week.
Next week, what’s up with all those apparitions?
Image: Virgin Presenting Rosary to St. Dominic by Bartolomé Esteban Murillo (1638-1640).
Every week, Deacon Pedro
takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: firstname.lastname@example.org