Sunday, October 26, 2008

Rosarium Virginis Mariae

To live prayerfully in a world so opposed to such a thing is, I think, one of the biggest challenges that any of us face. That is, provided, that we indeed live with a desire to live prayerfully, that we first of all realize the necessity of prayer and endeavor to pray as a habit, as a lifestyle. Face it, the world, for the most part, isn’t at all interested in prayer. It doesn’t revolve around a daily schedule for prayer nor does it wish to despite the fact that all of creation has a cyclical nature, a natural rhythm about it indicative of more than the natural eye can see.[1]

The Church world, on the other hand, believes that personal prayer is an important and integral necessity in the lives of those that believe in and accept Christ as Savior and Lord. The sad reality though, and I say this objectively rather than critically, is that most believer’s lives do not revolve around prayer. I say this as one fellow pilgrim that is endeavoring to live a life of prayer and realizing how difficult it is to follow the Apostle’s injunction to “pray without ceasing.”[2]

Unceasing prayer is a daunting responsibility. It is, at the same time, a wonderful opportunity, an open door that allows the winds of grace to fill the rooms and corridors of one’s life. We desire to pray because grace has first found its way into our interior closets. We pray because grace bids us to pray. We grow stale and cease to pray because we are often trying to pray in our own strength rather than relying upon grace. Or we grow stale and cease to pray because we set aside or fail to discover forms of prayer that are always faithfully sustainable even when we are unable to rouse in our hearts personal words of prayer.

It’s a truth that I cannot escape. The life that I live in the world will always be a reflection of the life that I live in prayer. “Prayer presupposes an effort, a fight against ourselves and the wiles of the Tempter. The battle of prayer is inseparable from the necessary ‘spiritual battle’ to act habitually according to the Spirit of Christ: we pray as we live, because we live as we pray.”[3]

As a convert from Protestantism to Catholicism, I’ve discovered that the Rosary is a life changing school of prayer. Its mysteries are what Pope John Paul II referred to as a compendium of the Gospel. “The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium.”[4] This prayerful compendium keeps me focused intently upon the face of Christ, keeps me meditating upon his life, upon his being, and upon the being of his Mother, our Mother. “To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.”[5] It is to enter into the life changing school of prayer with Mary as our teacher. After all, who knew, and who knows, Christ more perfectly than Mary? Who, among all human creatures, received such a generous outpouring of grace as Mary? Who, then, is more qualified to teach us than our Mother?

“By immersing us in the mysteries of the Redeemer’s life, it ensures that what he has done and what the liturgy makes present is profoundly assimilated and shapes our existence. ... This school of Mary is all the more effective if we consider that she teaches by obtaining for us in abundance the gifts of the Holy Spirit, even as she offers us the incomparable example of her own pilgrimage of faith.”[6]

This school of prayer possesses all that is necessary to create an interior atmosphere that makes change possible, making continual conversion a reality rather than just another well-discoursed concept in our library of concepts. It draws us deeper into the mysteries it presents, calls us to levels of commitment far beyond our natural abilities. It leads us to surrender ourselves to grace in measures never before known to us. In this school we hear and listen to the voice of Christ as he bids us “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.”[7]

[1] Psalm 19:1-4
[2] 1 Thessalonians 5:17
[3] CCC #2752
[4] John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Intro. Sec. 1, para. 2
[5] ibid, p. 10
[6] ibid, p. 19
[7] Mark 6:31