Editorial: In the rosary we contemplate Mary’s discipleship

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A pilgrim prays on a marked circle to maintain social distance May 13, 2021, at the Marian shrine of Fatima in central Portugal. Thousands of pilgrims arrived at the shrine to attend the 104th anniversary of the first apparition of Mary to three shepherd children. CNS photo/Pedro Nunes, Reuters

The Rosary is a uniquely Catholic prayer, focused as it is on the special role that the Blessed Virgin plays in the story of salvation and as the Mother of the Church. 

It is a prayer that has so much to offer us that the Church dedicates the month of October to the Holy Rosary, and through it, Mary our Mother.  

As we use the rosary to contemplate the Mysteries – Joyful, Sorrowful, Glorious and Luminous – our focus is drawn to the scriptural story of Christ’s entrance into the world and his mission of redemption and salvation. We are taken on a journey from the Annunciation to the Resurrection, Ascension and the Descent of the Holy Spirit. 

Even reciting the “Hail Mary” as we pray the rosary points to Scripture. The opening verse of the prayer is taken from the Gospel of Luke, first the greeting of the angel Gabriel – “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you!” – and then from the greeting of her cousin Elizabeth – “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” 

Pope Pius XII called the Rosary “a compendium of the entire Gospel.” 

In Mary’s acceptance of the will of God, in her life of service to her son and savior, in her intercessions on our behalf, we find the perfect model of discipleship, which is why we venerate her. 

In his homily for the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God on Jan. 1 this year, Pope Francis said that God used Mary to bring his blessing to the world, his son, Jesus.  

“He came into the world not on his own, but from a woman,” according to Pope Francis.  “Mary has united us to God because in her God bound himself to our flesh, and he has never left it.  … She is not only the bridge joining us to God; she is more. She is the road that God travelled in order to reach us, and the road that we must travel in order to reach him.” 

Mary is the model disciple and thus the model for each of us. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “By her complete adherence to the Father’s will, to his Son’s redemptive work, and to every prompting of the Holy Spirit, the Virgin Mary is the Church’s model of faith and charity.” Thus, she is a ‘preeminent and … wholly unique member of the Church’; indeed, she is the ‘exemplary realization’ of the Church.” 

From the cross, Jesus looked upon his mother and John and said, “Woman, behold your son,” and “Behold, your mother.” In those words, he not only passed the care of Mary to John, but instituted Mary as the mother of the Church. As our mother, we look to her for guidance, comfort and compassion. She offers all of those in abundance. 

At Fatima, the Blessed Virgin appeared to three children, identified herself as “Our Lady of the Rosary,” and asked them to deliver her message asking people to pray the rosary often for the conversion of sinners and for the consecration of Russia to her Immaculate Heart. 

This month, we mark the anniversary of her final appearance to the children at Fatima in October 1917. Her concern for the conversion of sinners remains as strong and as important as ever. Let us please our Mother by praying the rosary often and contemplating her example of discipleship and devotion to Christ, our Lord. 

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