May is Mary’s month and in this Easter season we rejoice with our Blessed Mother and entrust ourselves again to her maternal love, as Jesus did.
And in this month, I want to encourage you to renew your love for Mary’s prayer, the beautiful prayer of the rosary.
It is a simple prayer, one that many of us learned as children. And as we grow older, the rosary grows with us.
I love the rosary and I know that many of you share my own experience — that the rosary is new every time I pray it. With each passing year, this prayer takes me to different places in my heart, and to different places in my contemplation of Jesus and his mysteries.
The rosary is the prayer of the disciple’s journey, a prayer of the heart that is made for praying as we walk along the path of faith, the path of following Jesus Christ.
No rosary is ever the same, although we are always praying the same words in the same way. It is hard for me to describe, but the rosary to me seems to be a prayer that is beautifully suited to the nature of our human heart and human mind.
The Hail Marys we repeat with our lips become a kind of background setting as we are lifted up into contemplation.
As we ponder the mysteries of Christ’s life, often our mind wanders to the concerns of our own lives — our cares become prayers for our families and friends, our work and our world — and then we drift back again to considering the Gospel scenes.
Our prayer seems as natural as breathing. We linger on some thoughts longer than others. Time seems to slow down and become part of the quiet rhythm of the Hail Marys. We find ourselves dwelling on a single word or group of words in the prayer.
The repetition of the Hail Marys in the rosary is like a litany of love. It reminds me of that Easter scene where Jesus asks St. Peter three times, “Do you love me?”
As we all know, “I love you” isn’t something we say only once to the ones we love.
We express our love over and over, many times in many ways each day. So every Hail Mary we repeat in the rosary is like an “I love you” that we are saying to Jesus and to Mary, who is his mother and our mother.
The rosary tells us that we can be as close to Jesus as Mary is, that we can live for Jesus as Mary does.
And in the rosary, we are learning how to look at Jesus the way Mary looked at him.
The scenes that pass before us in the joyful, sorrowful, luminous, and glorious mysteries are all scenes that Mary saw with her own eyes. The Gospels tell us that Mary “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.”
So Mary’s prayer is a prayer of remembering — in which we keep the memory of Jesus’ words and his example present and alive, pondering these mysteries until they come to fill and shape our own hearts.
Through his joyful mysteries, we learn his humility. Through his luminous mysteries, we share his zeal to bring God’s light to the world. Through his sorrowful mysteries, we learn that love requires sacrifice. Through his glorious mysteries, our confident hope for heaven grows.
Like the Our Father, the rosary is a prayer of contemplation that leads to action. At the heart of the rosary are Mary’s words from the wedding feast at Cana: “Do whatever he tells you.” We find this same spirit at the heart of the Our Father: “Thy will be done.”
Praying the rosary as children of God, we grow to see our lives are not about us. Our lives are meant to be lived for God and for others — for our family and friends, the people in our society, especially the poor and vulnerable. It’s about God’s will, not our will.
As we pray the rosary day in and day out, we learn to have the attitude of Mary — to open our hearts to Jesus, to ponder his words and his life.
The rosary teaches us to place our lives in Jesus’ hands and to follow him and to seek his will and to serve him in everything we do. To say with Mary: “Let it be to me according to your word.”
Pray for me and I will pray for you.
And in this month of Mary, let us ask our Blessed Mother to help us to pray the rosary with a new spirit of faith and love. May we pray it for love, for the courage to love. And may we pray it to bring the love of God to the people of our time.