Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?

Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."

To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."

As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."

March 27, 2013: Seven Last Words: Longing

Posted by Jacob

In the days leading up to Good Friday, I will be meditating on the Seven Last Words of Christ.

Lent is a time of solemn contemplation of the Passion of Christ. We may choose to meditate, contemplate, or pray on His suffering for us. One way in which me might do this is through devotion to His Seven Last Words—the seven final phrases uttered by Christ as recounted in the Gospels. These Seven Last Words of the Passion of Christ are understood only in light of the true one Word of Life and Resurrection—the phrases uttered by Jesus before His death take on new life and new meaning following the glory of His resurrection. We sit with the pain and loss of crucifixion during Lent, but look forward to the brightness of new life on Easter.

The Seven Last Words

1. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) (link)
2. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) (link)
3. “Woman, Behold your Son. Behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27) (link)
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34) (link)
5. “I thirst.” (John 19:29)
6. “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
7. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

“I thirst.” (John 19:29)

The first four statements of Jesus on the cross fill us with a sense of the beginning of something, the becoming of the kingdom. We start with the fact that we are forgiven, continue to the experience of happiness, of paradise, even today, and recount the rebirth of the family of God, here on earth—all at the foot of the cross! We are left with a profound sense of hope, in spite of the pain and desolation of the crucifixion.

And then Jesus said, “I thirst.” It is the shortest of the seven last words. It is the most human. In this moment of physical pain, Jesus embraces the totality of His humanity, including his torture and death. And in that moment, we know that God understands our physical pain, our emotional pain, our spiritual pain—because He endured it, in human form, for us.

As David Tracy (Professor of Catholic Studies and Theology) wrote, “The symbolism of John, even in the words of his Jesus’ “I thirst” is unmistakable to any attentive reader of John’s rhythmic, meditative, iconic account of the death of Jesus. And yet the words of Jesus’ “I thirst” are not merely symbolic. “I thirst” is the cry of a dying man whose mouth is parched in the moments left from his approaching death-- a death of shame and tortured pain. The cry of Jesus disrupts even John’s profoundly symbolic and all too continuous account with a moment of unmistakably human-- all too human-- pain.”

But we would never, in a million years, be able to endure that kind of pain. We would never be able to suffer what Jesus did for us. Throughout the Gospel depictions of the Passion of Christ, we read about the terrible pain he suffered—the scourging at the Pillar which left 39 ragged, bleeding gashes; the crowning with thorns, sharp spikes cracking through His skull into brain; the brutal carrying of a heavy cross for miles up a steep hill in the blazing sun; and nearly three hours, hanging on a cross with nails through His hands and feet, before he says, “I thirst.” These are human words, but He is also divine.

Throughout the torture, throughout the Passion, Jesus does not complain, he does not cry out. It isn’t until he is close to death that He shouts—not a death whisper, not a gasp—“I thirst.” This physical and emotional strength should not exist at that moment, but in His pain, we see the glory of the Lord, the power and strength of our God. We see that His ways are not our ways. We see that anything is possible.

And we see beyond the human suffering, the need for water. In the two simple words of Jesus, we hear the true call of God. He loves us so much that He yearns for us, He longs for us, He thirsts for us.

He longs for our love, the love that Jesus taught us to share with one another, and direct toward the Lord: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27). As we continue our Lenten journey, we contemplate our own humanity, our own love, and our own thirst for the Lord.

1 As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?

3 My tears have been my food
day and night,
while men say to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"

4 These things I remember
as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go with the multitude,
leading the procession to the house of God,
with shouts of joy and thanksgiving
among the festive throng.

5 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and 6 my God.
My soul is downcast within me;
therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan,
the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.

7 Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

8 By day the LORD directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.

9 I say to God my Rock,
"Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?"

10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
"Where is your God?"

11 Why are you downcast, O my soul?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
For I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God. (Psalm 42)


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