The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 7 gives a particular flavour to the whole month. This little series of reflections – written by people from within our diocese – invites us to celebrate this devotional month and draw us deeper in prayer as we embark upon a pilgrimage through the life of Jesus. Rooted in Christ and keeping our gaze fixed upon him, we walk – with Mary – through the life of her Son, through the encounter with the good news of the Gospel, seeking to grow in holiness of life through imitating him who draws us into deeper friendship with the One who gives us life. Through the Rosary, through pondering these mysteries, these windows of God’s presence, “we allow ourselves to be guided by Mary, the model of faith, in meditating on the mysteries of Christ. Day after day she helps us to assimilate the Gospel, so that it gives a form to our life as a whole.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Angelus 7 October 2012). Keeping our gaze fixed upon Christ, with Mary accompanying our pilgrim journey, we wander deeper and deeper into an understanding of who he is so as to enable us to come to a deeper appreciation of who we are being called to be. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. John Paul II APOSTOLIC LETTER – ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE.
Mary points us to Christ, she directs our gaze towards him but she causes us to stop, to ponder, to reflect, to listen and be still so that we allow ourselves to be continually renewed by the the Gospel we contemplate in prayer.
The Rosary draws us into familiarity; familiarity with Christ and familiarity with Mary. It is that familiarity that builds within us the bonds of communion – we know Christ and we know the love of the Father he reveals to us. And the familiar prayers we pray during the Rosary allows the breath of the Spirit to move us so that we grow in our familiarity with the love of Christ. We enter into the prayer of Jesus (Our Father); we enter into the greeting of the Angel, of the cousin (Hail Mary), and we enter into the real prayer of petition and praise (Glory be).
Each of the Rosary meditations and reflections in this simple series allows us to keep in mind the narrative of the gospel we are invited to be attentive to and ponder. Accompanying each reflection is a simple piece of artwork depicting the particular mystery. Each image has been drawn from the rich resource that flows from within our ouwn diocesan community. Whilst I have used four or five of the churches within the diocese, it leads us to open our eyes to appreciate the artistic and liturgical imagery which helps unfold the story of faith. These five venues were like a jewellery box of narrative and illustration. I hope you find yourself able to let your eyes settle upon the image as you seek to journey through each mystery and journey into Christ. When we allow ourselves the silence, the stillness and the attentiveness to do this, then what we pray becomes reality in us; ‘meditating upon these mysteries, we may both imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise.’
Fr Chris Whitehead