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 25, 2013: Seven Last Words: Family

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)
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34)
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)

“Woman, Behold your Son. Behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27)

As all the moments in the Passion of Our Lord, this moment seems heart-wrenching. It is deeply personal. It is reflective of a deep loss, for both Jesus and Our Blessed Mother. In saying these words, Jesus severs the last of His earthly ties, He empties Himself of all the love left inside of Him for his mother, He awaits His death in complete poverty.

And Mary, His mother, and now our mother, must do the same. The center of her life, her purpose for living, her reason for being, the meaning and core of her existence, has been taken from her in this brutal and ultimate act of sacrifice. She stands broken beneath the cross, a mirror of the brokenness of her Son.

And we must do the same, placing ourselves with John and Mary, standing with them beneath the cross on which hangs our Lord and Savior. We must empty ourselves, as He emptied Himself. We must sever the ties that bind us, as He did. We must feel the loss, the sorrow, the emptiness that His death leaves in our hearts.

25Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. 26When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, "Dear woman, here is your son," 27and to the disciple, "Here is your mother." From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19: 25-27)

And in that moment of utter desolation, we also must realize that we are not alone. In speaking, in creating distance between Himself and His mother, Jesus has created a new family on earth- a family born of pain and death, a family born of suffering, a family borne in His love for us. And we are all called to His family, to become sons and daughters of Mary, brothers and sisters to John and to each other. This family, watered by the blood of His cross, is the core of the Church, His Church, our Church.

Jesus hasn’t limited His family to those at the foot of the cross at the moment of death. He has extended an invitation to all the people of the world, just as he extended the “good thief” an invitation to paradise. At a time when society-- even the Church-- is split by politics, by judgment of individuals and whole groups of people, by prejudice and ostracism, Jesus’ declaration of a new family is more important than ever. It is a new receptacle of His love, love between brothers and sisters in the faith. It is healing. It is redemptive. It is the rebirth of a people, there beneath the cross.

Jesus came to His Passion and death on a long road of love for each us. In His death he gave us each other, united in His love, called to love one another. And He gave us something more, as well. As Pope John Paul II said, in regards to Jesus’ words on the cross, “The reality brought about by Jesus' words, that is, Mary's new motherhood in relation to the disciple, is a further sign of the great love that led Jesus to offer his life for all people. On Calvary this love is shown in the gift of a mother, his mother, who thus becomes our mother too.”

We gain a family. We gain a mother who advocates and intercedes for us with the Lord. And all of this we gain through the blood of the cross, the blood that flows through each of us, the blood that we are reminded of during the Eucharist. United by the blood of Christ, one with Him and with each other, we dare hope, we dare pray, we dare look to the Resurrection.


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