For most of us, life seems to wind like a path through the woods. Sometimes, everything is bathed in beautiful sunshine, even if dappled at particular moments; at other times, a dusk-like veil of shadow can fall upon us. And for most of the time, we have some idea that the path has an end, but we know nothing about the route it may take nor do we know anything about the what we might encounter along the way. We try to remain hopeful that whatever is to come, we are able to bear it well even if we cannot entirely avoid some of the more difficult encounters.
Life is no different for Catholics in this respect; our lives are the same as any other and they take much the same path. But what is different is our faith – this provides us with the light of Christ in His Word and in the Sacraments of the Church; and this divine light gives us hope, no matter what and no matter how dark life may become for us.
Prayer is our way of opening the windows to allow this divine light to enter in – that light never forces itself upon us, even if it hopes always that we might invite it into our lives.
And the prayer of the holy Rosary is a wonderful means to do this, for the events upon which we dwell in our praying of the Rosary reflect every possible moment and event within our own lives. This makes the prayer of the Rosary perfectly relevant to us and to every step along the paths of our lives.
The Rosary, explicitly focussed as it is upon the Gospels, and upon the events in the lives of Jesus and Mary contained within them, is the perfect ‘Gospel prayer’. Praying the Rosary is something like holding up a mirror to our lives, examining them in the light of the Gospel and comparing them to those Gospel values which our faith professes.
Your word is a lamp to my feet, a light for my path
Psalm 119 v105
The prayer of the Rosary, then, is like a heavenly lamp which shines that divine light upon the path of our lives; this light illumines the way for us, it dispels the darkness which threatens to overwhelm us at times, and it makes the way forward just a little bit clearer, giving us the strength to keep going in hope and in faith.
It is a simple and accessible prayer, well within the reach of every soul, even children. All that is required is our willingness to embrace it and to make use of it, allowing it to lead us forward in the company of the Blessed Virgin, who has the sole intention of bringing us ever closer to Her Son, Our Lord.
It is a steadfast prayer. It it recommended to us over and over again by the Church through the voices of the Holy Fathers throughout the ages, and by the example of a myriad of great Saints who have gone before us on the way of holiness.
It is a prayer of great depth, an ocean into which we can dive over and over; no skill is required, only the willingness to do so. But when we do so with deliberation and with consistency, we begin to see clearly the great graces which the Blessed Virgin obtains for us from the Lord, by means of this exquisite prayer. This further encourages us in the praying of Her Rosary, for all children happily grasp the little treats extended by the hand of a mother.
Of course, none of this will have any resonance for us unless we actively pray the holy Rosary. It is one thing to read what it might offer us – and quite another thing to experience that for ourselves, in our own lives.
On this feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, may She do us the great kindness of obtaining for us the very great grace of a deep, deliberate, constant and authentic love of this most marvellous prayer.
And in accepting Her gift, may the prayer of the holy Rosary lead us to the Blessed Virgin and – with Her and through Her – to the Lord, Her Son.