Light and Life – Sept-Oct 2018, Vol 71, No 5 – A Publication of the Western Dominican Province
When we pray the Holy Rosary, that prayer given to St. Dominic by the Blessed Virgin Mary and passed down to us through the ages, we enter into the mysteries of the Life of Jesus Christ and his Mother. At times, we are very clear in our intentions, hopes and desires as we pray the Rosary and beseech the Lord with our petitions. Have we considered though that there is fruit other than the answers to our petitions that can be born through praying the Rosary, fruit that Jesus himself and his Mother want us to bear?
As brothers and sisters of the Rosary Confraternity, we are familiar with the phrase, “blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus,” that essential hinge as it were, as Pope St. John Paul II refers to it, which joins the two parts of the Hail Mary. The Lord Jesus is that blessed fruit given to us in abundance. It makes sense then when we ask, “What is the greatest fruit of the Holy Rosary?” that Pope John Paul says, “The cycles of meditation proposed by the Holy Rosary . . . bring to mind what is essential, and they awaken in the soul a thirst for a knowledge of Christ…” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae (RVM) #24). He recalls the wisdom of St. Paul, who says, “Christ is the perfect knowledge of God’s mystery, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Cf. Col 2:2-3).
St. John Paul II speaks of assimilating the mysteries of the Holy Rosary (RVM #26). This occurs by meditating on the life of Jesus in each mystery, contemplating its meaning in our lives or in the life of the Church, growing in our understanding of these key events of his life on earth, striving to conform our lives ever more closely to his by attempting to imitate his actions, and espousing his love ever more deeply in our daily living. When we immerse ourselves into the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, with the aid of the Blessed Virgin and by means of contemplation, we enter more deeply into the life of Jesus.
You may protest, “This is very difficult to do!” However, when we pray the Rosary every day over a period of weeks, months and years, if we are attentive and are asking to receive the graces of this prayer—and are NOT racing through it to see how many rosaries we can “say” (as opposed to pray) in a day—we can’t help but receive the fruits of our endeavors. As St. John Paul II says, “Mary constantly sets before the faithful the ‘mysteries’ of her Son, with the desire that the contemplation of those mysteries will release all their saving power” (RVM #11).
So, the “Secret of the Rosary” is that it leads easily to a profound and inward knowledge of Christ. Our Marian Pope calls it Mary’s way because “It is the way of the example of the Virgin of Nazareth, a woman of faith, of silence, of attentive listening. It is also the way of a Marian devotion inspired by knowledge of the inseparable bond between Christ and his Blessed Mother: the mysteries of Christ are also in some sense the mysteries of his Mother, even when they do not involve her directly, for she lives from him and through him” (Cf. RVM #24).
As an example of us assimilating one of the mysteries of the Holy Rosary, when we meditate for example upon the First Sorrowful Mystery, Our Lord’s agony in the garden, we could begin by asking God for the gift of trust in him, one of the “fruits” tied to this mystery. Then, we could enter more deeply into this mystery by reflecting upon the question, “What was Jesus suffering as he fell upon his knees in the garden?” Or, “What was he feeling as he felt the weight of the sins of the world, knowing that he would soon take them upon his shoulders?”
In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus’ agony has already begun. Because he is human like us, he experiences the emotions that we go through, for example, what it feels like to be rejected by others (though in his case, he has been rejected by the entire world!), the anxiety of taking upon himself the sins of the world, and worst of all, the fear of death. And though he is not tainted by sin because of his divine nature, he feels the deleterious effects of sin. Remember his struggle—asking his Father to “Take this cup from me,” and then saying soon thereafter, “But not my will, but thy will be done.” (Luke 22:42 & Matthew 26:39)
What is the meaning of this mystery? –It captures the agony of Jesus as he was about to die for us, to redeem us, to set us free from death and slavery to sin. It speaks of his great love for all mankind. So, when I meditate upon this mystery, perhaps my own present sins stand before me—it is then that I can find hope and peace, knowing that he contemplated my sinfulness and what it would take to redeem me, and chose to give his life for me because he loves me. Perhaps I can enter into the garden of Gethsemane myself and imagine myself kneeling next to Jesus and comforting him—or, have I fallen asleep next to him, or even run away? St. John Paul II says, “The sorrowful mysteries help the believer to relive the death of Jesus . . . to enter with [Mary] into the depths of God’s love for man and to experience all its life-giving power.” (RVM #22)
Perhaps during my meditation upon this particular mystery, I could reflect upon how I can move forward one day at a time, trying to follow Jesus’ example of sacrificing myself for the sake of others, endeavoring to impact their lives in a positive way. How could I relieve the burdens of those who are around me? How could I give them hope or peace? After all, Jesus says, “He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit . . . It was I who chose you to go forth and bear much fruit . . . . All you ask the Father in my name he will give you.” (Cf. John 15)
Then, I could end my meditation upon this mystery by offering a short prayer to Jesus, thanking him for giving his life for me, asking him to love me and to show me how to love him and others in return.
In regard to yet another fruit that we could obtain through the Rosary, Fr. Bruno Cadoré, OP, the Master of the Dominican Order, speaks in this edition of Light & Life of how the members of the Confraternities of the Rosary are to live our faith in Jesus Christ and share it in the Church and in the marketplace, animated by the same apostolic zeal that carried St. Dominic. Br. Bruno, as he prefers to be called, says, “in the mystery of the unfolding of the Church, [members of the Confraternities of the Rosary are] a grace offered for evangelization,” that is, we are to live as brothers and sisters of Christ whose meditation upon the mysteries of the Rosary form the framework of our prayer and the basis for our unity. Moreover, we are to contribute to the proclamation of these mysteries, and to receive from them the joy of being more and more converted by the Word, and to become “evangelizers.”
In summary, when we immerse ourselves in our daily Rosary, we reap the bounty of its fruits. As we pray this centuries-old prayer given to us by the Blessed Virgin herself, united with countless families, friends and Rosary confraternities, we enter into the mysteries of the life of Jesus, growing in our knowledge and understanding of him and conforming our lives toward his. We gain the strength to resist temptation and evil, we find peace within, we are inspired to love our neighbor, and we are compelled to become evangelizers of the living Word, who is Jesus. And most importantly, the Blessed Virgin leads us deeper into the love of Jesus—perhaps that is the greatest fruit that she wants us to obtain.
Many of us conclude the Rosary with this prayer, entreating God to bless us with the fruits that are obtained by meditating upon its mysteries (Cf. RVM #35):
Let us pray. O God, Whose Only-Begotten Son, by His life, death and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life: grant, we beseech Thee, that by meditating upon these mysteries of the most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain, and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.
These are the fruits of the mysteries of the Rosary that I request from the Lord when I pray the Rosary:
- Annunciation: humility;
- Visitation: love of neighbor;
- Birth of Jesus: detachment;
- Presentation: obedience;
- Finding in the Temple: greater commitment & devotion to Jesus.
- Baptism: openness to the Holy Spirit;
- Miracle at Cana: Mary’s intercession;
- Proclamation of the Kingdom & Repentance: Christian witness & conversion;
- Transfiguration: courage to bear the cross;
- Institution of the Holy Eucharist: greater love for the Holy Eucharist.
- Agony in the Garden: trust in God;
- Scourging at the Pillar: purity;
- Crowning with Thorns: fortitude;
- Carrying of the Cross: perseverance in trials;
- Crucifixion: forgiveness for others.
- Resurrection: faith;
- Ascension: hope;
- Descent of the Holy Spirit: gifts of the Holy Spirit;
- Assumption: To Jesus through Mary;
- Coronation: final perseverance.