The Rosary: A Prayer Centered on Christ
Pope John Paul II met with 16,000 pilgrims during his general audience Oct. 29. Although the Holy Father had planned to meet with the pilgrims in St. Peter's Square, the audience was moved indoors due to bad weather. To accommodate the large group, he first met with some of the pilgrims in St. Peter's Basilica, then gave his teaching to the remaining pilgrims in Paul VI Hall.
The Pope's teaching centered on the rosary as the Year of the Rosary drew to a close. “ 'To contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.’ These words, which are repeated throughout my apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, have become, so to speak, the 'motto’ for the Year of the Rosary,” the Holy Father explained. “They express in a nutshell the true meaning of this prayer, which is both simple and profound.”
John Paul reiterated his two major intentions for the Year of the Rosary: peace and the family. Peace, he emphasized, starts in the family and the rosary is the best prayer for achieving a lasting peace. “The rosary is 'Mary's way’ and, therefore, a very special way to achieve this twofold objective,” the Holy Father noted. “Praying the rosary is not some kind of retreat into ourselves; it is a conscious choice of faith.”
The Holy Father encouraged Catholics around the world to continue to pray the rosary as they journey along the path of holiness in order to find the peace of Christ.
The Year of the Rosary draws to an end with the month of October.
I am profoundly grateful to God for this time of grace, during which the entire Church community has been able to closely examine the value and importance of the rosary, a prayer that is Christ-centered and contemplative.
“To contemplate with Mary the face of Christ” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 3). These words, which are repeated throughout my apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, have become, so to speak, the “motto” for the Year of the Rosary. They express in a nutshell the true meaning of this prayer, which is both simple and profound. At the same time, they emphasize the continuity between what I proposed in my letter on the rosary and the path to which I pointed the People of God in my preceding apostolic letter, Novo Millennio Ineunte (At the Beginning of the New Millennium).
If, indeed, Christians are called at the beginning of this third millennium to grow as “a people who contemplate the face of Christ” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 16) and Church communities are called to be “genuine schools of prayer” (ibid., 33), the rosary is “Mary's way” and, therefore, a very special way to achieve this twofold objective. With its desire to reveal more and more the “mystery” of Christ, the Church enters the school of Mary in order to meditate on the “mysteries” of his Gospel. This is “Mary's way” (see ibid., 24), the way in which she carried out her exemplary pilgrimage of faith as the first disciple of the Incarnate Word. At the same time, it is the path for an authentic Marian devotion that is completely centered on the relationship that exists between Christ and his most Holy Mother (see ibid.).
The Way to Peace
During this year, it was my desire to commend two important prayer intentions to the People of God: peace and the family.
Unfortunately, I the 21st century, I born under the I sign of the Great I Jubilee Year of I reconciliation, has I inherited from the past century numerous and persistent hotbeds of war and violence. The disconcerting attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and everything that has happened in the world since then have increased tension on a global level. As we face these troubling situations, praying the rosary is not some kind of retreat into ourselves; it is a conscious choice of faith. By contemplating the face of Christ, who is our peace and our reconciliation, we wish to ask God for the gift of his peace, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. We ask her for the strength we need to be peacemakers, beginning with daily life in our families.
The family! The nucleus of the family should, in fact, be the first place in which Christ's peace is welcomed, cultivated and guarded. In our days, however, it is increasingly difficult for the family to live out its vocation without prayer. This is why it would be truly useful to revive the beautiful custom of praying the rosary at home, as was the case in past generations. “The family that prays together stays together” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 41).
I entrust these intentions to Our Lady, so that she will protect families and obtain peace for individuals and for the whole world.
Together with the Virgin, I hope that all believers will make a decision to set out on the path to holiness, keeping their gaze fixed on Jesus and meditating on the mysteries of salvation through the rosary. This will be the most precious fruit of this year dedicated to the prayer of the rosary.