Benedict XVI on the Rosary

More incredibly beautiful comments from our little Pope! From his visit to Pompeii and the shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary:

….one must experience first hand the beauty and the profundity of this prayer, which is simple and accessible to all. It is necessary above all to allow oneself to be led by the hand by the Virgin Mary to contemplate the face of Christ: a face that is joyous, luminous, sorrowful and glorious.

Whoever – like Mary and together with her – assiduously guards and meditates the mysteries of Jesus will always assimilate his feelings more and more and conform to him.

In this regard, I would like to quote a beautiful consideration by Blessed Bartolo Longo: “Just as two friends”, he wrote, “who practice frequently together usually end up conforming to each other even in habits, so also we, conversing familiarly with Jesus and the Virgin in meditating the mysteries of the Rosary, and forming the same life together in Communion, can become – as much as our baseness is able – similar to them, and learn from these supreme examples how to live humbly, poor, hidden, patiently and perfectly.” (The Fifteen Saturdays of the Most Holy Rosary, 27th ed., Pompeii, 1916, p. 27: cit. in Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 15).

The Rosary is a school of contemplation and silence. At first glance, it may seem like a prayer that accumulates words, thus difficult to reconcile with the silence which is rightly recommends for meditation and contemplation.

In truth, this cadenced repetition of the Ave Maria does not disturb interior silence; rather, it requires and nourishes it. In the same way as the Psalms that one prays in the Liturgy of the Hours, silence flourishes through the words and sentences, nor as a void, but as a presence of that ultimate sense that transcends words themselves and together with them speaks to the heart.

Thus, in reciting the Ave Maria, we must take care that our voices do not ‘cover’ that of God, who always speaks through silence, like the ‘murmur of a gentle breeze’. How important it is, then, to guard this silence full of God in personal and in community prayer!

Even when it is prayed by large gatherings, as we do today in this Basilica, one must perceive the Rosary as a contemplative prayer, which cannot happen without a climate of interior silence.

I wish to add another reflection relative to the Word of God in the Rosary, particularly timely now while the Bishops Synod is taking place at the Vatican on the theme ‘The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church’.

If Christian contemplation cannot do without the Word of God, even the Rosary, to be a contemplative prayer, must always emerge from the silence of the heart as a response to the Word, on the model of Mary’s prayer.

Looking at it, the Rosary is all woven with elements taken from Scriptures. First, there is the announcement of the mystery, preferably made, as we do today, with words taken from the Bible. This followed by the Our Father: imprinting a ‘vertical’ orientation to the prayer, it opens the soul of he who prays the Rosary the right filial attitude according to the invitation of the Lord: “When you pray, say ‘Father’….”

The first part of the Ave Maria, also taken from the Gospel, makes us listen again every time to the words with which God addressed the Virgin through the Angel, and the blessing of her cousin Elizabeth.

The second part of the Ave Maria resounds like the answer of children who, addressing the Mother as supplicants, do nothing other than to express their own adherence to the plan of salvation revealed by God. Thus, the thought of the one who prays is always anchored to Scripture and the mysteries it presents….

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2 responses to “Benedict XVI on the Rosary

  1. You might like this, Maureen. It’s my compilation of information on the euqivalent of the rosary in the Russian Orthodox Church, specifically the rule of St Seraphim of Sarov. It’s very similar to the old Roman Catholic rule, before the recent changes.

  2. Maureen

    Yes, it definitely stems from ancient practices. The Egyptian tie-in seems logical, because the Irish monks who taught similar prayer practices were very, very influenced by Egyptian monks.

    It was also a common Western practice to kneel and get up again while saying strings of the Angelic Salutation. St. Albert the Great did fifty of them every morning, which is not only evidence of his devotion to Mary but is probably why a sedentary scholar was in such good shape for his long walking trips for the Dominicans, even into old age. :)

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