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The rosary: To Jesus through Mary
Oct. 5, 2011 - Recently, a married friend and I were discussing how the Church can best prepare couples for marriage. We talked about self-giving sacrifice, communication and virtue. Eventually, I asked him for the best marriage advice he had ever received.
“That’s simple,” he said. “Pray the rosary together every single day.”
My friend wasn’t saying this because I’m a bishop. He was sharing, honestly, that the rosary had been a transformative prayer in his life and in the life of his family.
I could relate. As many of you know, I wasn’t raised a Catholic and so the rosary isn’t something I’d experienced as a child. In fact, at the beginning of my conversion to Catholicism, I struggled to understand true devotion to Mary. But very soon after my reception into the Catholic Church I was introduced to the writings of St. Louis de Montfort, who urged Catholics to be totally consecrated to Jesus through Mary.
Consecration is the act of offering something, and setting it aside, for holy use. When we consecrate ourselves to Jesus through Mary, we offer ourselves for his use. We abandon our plans and desires in service to the saving work of Christ. This isn’t easy—and we need help. When we consecrate ourselves through Mary, we ask her to pray for us and to guide us as we offer ourselves to Christ. We follow after Mary as she follows after Christ—“Be it done unto me according to your will.”
I made St. Louis’ total consecration to Mary 33 years ago. The prayers are a 33-day journey into Marian devotion, which seeks to understand the powerful role Mary plays in interceding for us and in making Jesus Christ present to us. As I came to know and love Mary, I came to know and love Jesus all the more. In fact, coming to know Jesus is the reason we look to Mary. St. Louis reflected that “Mary is an echo of God, speaking and repeating only God. If you say ‘Mary,’ she says ‘God.’ Like in the Gospel story of the wedding feast of Cana, she is constantly whispering to us, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’”
Through the prayers of consecration to Jesus through Mary I grew in devotion—and dependence—on the Mother of God. And I came to understand the transformative power of the rosary.
October is traditionally regarded as the month of the rosary. During this month, the Church urges us to pray the rosary regularly and to reflect upon its mysteries. “With the rosary,” noted Blessed John Paul II, “the Christian people sit at the school of Mary and are led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.”
For Catholics—in our families, in our churches and in our own private prayer—to sit with the Mother of the Redeemer is to see Christ in a new way. The power of the rosary is the gift of deeply engaging in the mysteries of Jesus Christ—in the joys, sorrows and triumphs of his cross and resurrection. The power of the rosary is to know Jesus Christ and to love him, as his mother knows him and loves him.
This month there are several opportunities in the archdiocese to pray the rosary together:
On Friday, Oct. 7, the feast of the Holy Rosary, Catholic school students will pray Marian prayers during eucharistic holy hours in their schools.
At 2 p.m. Oct. 15 the Legion of Mary, in honor of the 90th anniversary of the Legion (last month) and the 50th anniversary of Father Patrick Peyton’s October 1961 Rosary Crusade in San Francisco, will lead a public rosary in the amphitheater at Civic Center Park in downtown Denver. (click here for related story or see Page 3 of the print edition)
At 7 p.m. Oct. 22 Father Francis Geremia, national director of the Marian Movement of Priests, will lead a rosary, celebrate Mass and give a talk on the Blessed Mother at Christ the King Church in Denver.
Many parishes will pray the rosary together this month as part of the pro-life 40 Days for Life campaign.
I urge you to commit to the rosary this month. Join fellow Catholics in praying the rosary. Pray the rosary with your family. I promise that as you come to know Mary, Jesus Christ will be made present to you!
Bishop James D. Conley is apostolic administrator of the Denver Archdiocese.
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