05 Editorial - Rediscovering the Rosary

posted Oct 3, 2018, 10:11 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Oct 3, 2018, 10:11 AM ]
As we celebrate the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, focusing on the rediscovery of the Rosary, we recall the first Apparition of Our Lady to three peasant children - Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta, in Fatima, Portugal on May 13, 1917. She asked them to come repeatedly for six months till the month of October; she would appear to them on the 13th of every successive month. When Lucia asked Our Lady for a miracle, so that people would not doubt the veracity of the children, the Lord granted them the Miracle of the Sun, which we are all familiar with. This great spectacular episode which is also described as the 'dance of the Sun' evoked wonder, amazement and terror in those present. The extraordinary sign manifested God's divine validation and approval of the origins of the Rosary. The people had their miracle. Doubters, sceptics and scoffers lost the day, and so began the devotion of the Rosary to Our Lady of Fatima.

For these thrilling events, we have to ask ourselves what message this has for us in our day and age. At the apparitions, Our Lady repeatedly asked the children to say the Rosary daily and to pray for peace in the world. During the second apparition, she taught them to say a prayer interpolated between each mystery. "O my Jesus, forgive us, deliver us from the fire of hell; take all souls to heaven, especially those most in need." And so the important question is: how is the Rosary faring in my life and in my family? Do I recite the Rosary daily, and is it recited daily in my family?

As an individual, I have found the recitation of the Rosary a great source of strength, peace and joy. Whenever I am in some difficulty, it gives me great comfort and consolation to hold the rosary and allow the beads to slip through my fingers. In his apostolic letter on the Rosary: "Rosarium Virginis Mariae" (2002), Pope St John Paul II calls it a path of contemplation. We reflect on the Mysteries of Christ in the school of Mary, and who is more fit than she to help us "read" Christ, to discover His secrets and to understand His message (op.cit.No.14). As I have grown older and seek a method to "pray without ceasing", I have found the Rosary, more and more, the answer to my search. In my spare moments, reciting the Rosary, and reciting it with faith and love, has brought me great joy and peace. And so, especially when I am travelling by car, and have time at my disposal, I find that the constant recitation of the Rosary deepens my union with the Lord.

The Rosary also has, as experience has shown, a tremendous power to foster and deepen family life. I remember as a young man, the visit of Fr Patrick Peyton to Mumbai during his world tour to promote the family Rosary. "The family that prays together stays together" was the motto, and how true it is. A pity that so many families do not say the family Rosary together, which is a minuscule price to pay for the inestimable gift of family peace.

In our family, the Rosary introduced me to mysticism. We said the family Rosary after dinner. In our hall, we have a life-sized picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. We, the members of the family, would sit around this picture. The lights were switched off, and in the faint but beautiful glow of the flickering flame of the lamp lit before the picture, we said the Rosary. I could feel the Presence powerfully at these moments gently accompany our prayers. It was a time when family bonds were strengthened, wounds healed and misunderstandings set aside. After the recitation of the Rosary, we children took the blessings of our parents, which were never refused, no matter what the happenings of the day. Then we could sleep in peace. The family Rosary kept the family together through ups and downs, through joys and sorrows, through good days and difficult ones. So true: the family that prays together stays together.

We need to rediscover the Rosary in our times when the family is under pressure and attacks. As Pope St John Paul II writes: "Dear brothers and sisters! A prayer so easy, and yet so rich, truly deserves to be rediscovered by the Christian Community… I look to all of you, brothers and sisters of every state of life, to you Christian families, to you, the sick and the elderly, and to you, young people, confidently take up the Rosary once again. Rediscover the Rosary in the light of Scripture in harmony with the liturgy, and in the context of your daily lives." (op. cit.No.43) O Queen of the Rosary, O dearest mother, O Refuge of Sinners, O Sovereign Consoler of the Afflicted. May you be everywhere blessed, today and always, on earth and in heaven.

Bishop Bosco Penha is Emeritus Auxiliary Bishop of Bombay.