Friday, October 7, 2016


I was sitting in a bench at 4:00 this (Friday) afternoon, enjoying the beautiful autumn weather, on the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and reflecting on the rosary.

Most people probably think of the rosary as a devotion for people with little theological background, a pious practice for old people, and rather old-fashioned itself. But, without trying to correct that misunderstanding here, let me offer one idea.

It is no accident that the rosary begins with the Apostles’ Creed: the Creed influences all the rest of the prayer. It’s a summary of all the mysteries, a “recap” of the whole marvelous story that begins in eternity with God and ends with our own eternal life. It is between these two that the mysteries of the life of Jesus and his blessed mother unfold. What a gloriously wide perspective! The rosary goes from the eternity of God’s love for creation (“I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth”) to the eternity of our love for God and our enjoyment of His presence forever (“I believe in the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. Amen.”).

The Creed prepares us to pray the rosary. For one thing, it stirs up the lively faith that we need in order to see in each mystery some detail of God’s love. In this way the rosary takes on a flavor and a value that it doesn’t have if we consider each of the fifteen (or twenty)  mysteries individually. Far from being just a pious way of spending a minute or two, the praying of the Creed reminds us that time is lived against the backdrop of eternity and is rooted in it, and that eternity breaks into time and fills it with meaning.

The rosary is, in other words, a marvelous way of letting the mystery of eternity break into and touch our own lives. In the rosary, you might say, heaven touches earth as it did when Gabriel appeared to Mary (the first Joyful Mystery), or when Christ suffered and died for us (the Fifth Sorrowful Mystery), or when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles at Pentecost (the Third Glorious Mystery). It helps us enter devoutly into the vast sweep of God’s eternal plan for the world.

As I was reflecting on all of this, the jayvee soccer players were practicing on the field a short distance away. I noticed how the kids were not looking down at the ball when dribbling it, but rather keeping their heads up, looking around so as to see where they wanted to send the ball.

I had this image of myself sometimes living with my eyes focussed downward on the ball, seeing only a few inches on either side of me, going through the day’s motions with no thought about what it all means, with no long view of how my actions fit into God’s loving and mysterious plan for me and for the rest of humanity.

The rosary, I thought, is a great little tool to help me to lift up my head and look at the long range picture of the ultimate meaning of my life. Even if some event in my life is a mystery, I can at least experience that mystery in hope, identifying with Jesus as he carried his cross, was crucified, died, was buried and rose again on the third day.
So, as I watched the soccer kids, each one kicking with his head up so as to see all around him, I said a little prayer for them and for myself: “Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.”


No comments:

Post a Comment