Wednesday, October 07, 2009

The Holy Rosary: Directed Toward the Sacred Liturgy

Today, on this feast of the Holy Rosary, we are reminded of a powerful devotional prayer which has been favoured amongst many Catholics in the West; the Holy Rosary. Devotionals are an important part of the Christian spiritual life since they assist us in meditating on the sacred mysteries in our day-to-day prayers. It is through meditating upon these mysteries that one comes to better know the mysteries, uniting ourselves to them, and in so doing we are able to better worship God through the liturgy of the Church -- which is, let us recall, the primary means by which we offer worship to God. In other words, all of our devotionals, be it the Rosary or otherwise, as all of the activities of the Church, are ultimately directed toward the sacred liturgy as their source and goal -- a point which may not often be considered. ("The liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the font from which all her power flows." Catechism of the Catholic Church, para. 1074)

To assist in showing these connections as it pertains to the Rosary specifically, I thought it would be helpful to share some quotations which illumine that relationship.

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On the Feast of the Holy Rosary

"The feast of the Holy Rosary was instituted by Pope Pius V to celebrate the anniversary of the defeat of the Turkish fleet at the battle of Lepanto on the first Sunday in October 1571, which ended the threat of Muslim domination of the Mediterranean and was ascribed in part to the prayers and processions of the Rosary confraternity in Rome." (From the Liturgy of the Hours)

The Rosary is Oriented To and Draws From the Sacred Liturgy

48. [...] "Once the pre-eminent value of liturgical rites has been reaffirmed it will not be difficult to appreciate the fact that the Rosary is a practice of piety which easily harmonizes with the liturgy. In fact, like the liturgy, it is of a community nature, draws its inspiration from Sacred Scripture and is oriented towards the mystery of Christ. The commemoration in the liturgy and the contemplative remembrance proper to the Rosary, although existing on essentially different planes of reality, have as their object the same salvific events wrought by Christ. The former presents new, under the veil of signs and operative in a hidden way, the great mysteries of our Redemption. The latter, by means of devout contemplation, recalls these same mysteries to the mind of the person praying and stimulates the will to draw from them the norms of living. Once this substantial difference has been established, it is not difficult to understand that the Rosary is an exercise of piety that draws its motivating force from the liturgy and leads naturally back to it, if practiced in conformity with its original inspiration. It does not, however, become part of the liturgy. In fact, meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, by familiaring the hearts and minds of the faithful with the mysteries of Christ, can be an excellent preparation for the creation of those same mysteries in the liturgical action and can also become a continuing echo thereof. However, it is a mistake to recite the Rosary during the celebration of the liturgy..

"54. But there is no doubt that, after the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, the high point which family prayer can reach, the Rosary should be considered as one of the best and most efficacious prayers in common that the Christian family is invited to recite."
~ Paul VI, Marialis Cultus (For the Right Ordering and Development of Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary)

During the Sacred Liturgy the Mysteries of Christ are Made Present

"13. The Rosary, in its own particular way, is part of this varied panorama of “ceaseless” prayer. If the Liturgy, as the activity of Christ and the Church, is a saving action par excellence, the Rosary too, as a “meditation” with Mary on Christ, is a salutary contemplation. By immersing us in the mysteries of the Redeemer's life, it ensures that what he has done and what the liturgy makes present is profoundly assimilated and shapes our existence.


"43. Rediscover the Rosary in the light of Scripture, in harmony with the Liturgy, and in the context of your daily lives."
~ John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (On the Most Holy Rosary)

The Rosary Prayed in Harmony with the Liturgical Life of the Church

200. "[T]he liturgical character of a given day takes precedence over the usual assignment of a mystery of the Rosary to a given day; the Rosary is such that, on particular days, it can appropriately substitute meditation on a mystery so as to harmonize this pious practice with the liturgical season." ~ Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy

Pope Benedict XVI on the Rosary

"When reciting the Rosary, the important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived. The various steps of Christ's mission are traced. With Mary the heart is oriented toward the mystery of Jesus. Christ is put at the centre of our life, of our time, of our city, through the contemplation and meditation of his holy mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory. May Mary help us to welcome within ourselves the grace emanating from these mysteries, so that through us we can "water" society, beginning with our daily relationships, and purifying them from so many negative forces, thus opening them to the newness of God." ~ Recitation of the Holy Rosary, Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Basilica of Saint Mary Major, Saturday, May 3, 2008.

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