Thursday, October 2, 2014

Saint John Paul II's Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae

The first Luminous Mystery mosaic in Medjugorje, The Baptism of Jesus
Luminous Mystery Mosaic, The Baptism of Jesus

Each year in October, I strive to improve upon my Rosary Devotion by reviewing my Rosary reading materials. This year, I decided to reread Saint Pope John Paul II's document, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, an Apostolic Letter issued on October 16, 2002, to bishops, clergy and the faithful on the Most Holy Rosary. Today's post not only shares this wonderful gift to the Church with every visitor at my blog, but forms part of my own evangelization efforts to promote the Rosary and make it better known and understood.

For those who are somewhat new to the Liturgical Calendar of the Catholic Church, October is traditionally considered to be the Month of The Rosary, a time when all members of the Church are called to honour Our Lady with greater dedication including the recitation of the Rosary. By doing so the Church remembers Our Lady's intercession during the Battle of Lepanto, which saw Christian forces defeat the Ottoman Turks on October 7, 1571. So grateful is the Church that this victorious day was assigned as the special feast day of Our Lady of Victory and later changed to Our Lady of The Rosary.

October truly is a special time of gratitude that is properly expressed by both individual and group recitations of the Rosary, other Marian prayers, Mass and processions. Participating in such prayers and celebrations further opens our hearts to Mary and allows for an abundance of graces to flow to us from her motherly love, bringing us closer to Jesus. As St. Pope John Paul II notes in the Introduction of Rosarium Virginis Mariae, the Rosary is "...[A] prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness." (1) When we endeavour to pray the Rosary each day more effectively, we as Christians sit at the "School of Mary" allowing Our Lady to lead us to contemplate the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love.

For those Catholics that do not recite the Rosary, October is an invitation to discover its meaning and significance for your earthly pilgrimage and more importantly for your eternal salvation. I have published a post for just such individuals titled, The Rosary: An Introduction. For those that only recite the weekly scheduled mysteries, October can serve as time for you to not only rediscover the many treasures contained in this most beautiful meditative prayer, but to also include additional sets of mysteries to your recitation. To do so is to come closer to eventually reciting all four sets of mysteries everyday, completing the Marathon of Grace.

If you have never heard of Rosarium Virginis Mariae, it was issued not only to promote the recitation of the Rosary, but to facilitate a greater understanding of its purpose and daily inclusion in our lives. It was also used to introduce a new fourth set of mysteries, the Luminous Mysteries. So significant was this new addition that Saint Pope John Paul II declared October 2002 to October 2003, "The Year of The Rosary." Reading this document is a treasure to draw from and for my fellow Marian devotees, it is sure to be one of the most enjoyable reads on the Rosary. The document is twenty six pages printed, outlined with an Introduction, Chapter I - Contemplating Christ With Mary, Chapter II - Mysteries of Christ Mysteries of His Mother, Chapter III - For Me To Live is Christ and a Conclusion

Saint Pope John Paul II's Introduction alone is sure to intrigue those new to the Rosary, those who have recited it all their lives, read extensively about it and for any one in between. In the Introduction, St. Pope John Paul II sets out immediately to identify and declare that the Rosary although clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. The Rosary can be considered a compendium of the Gospel and through the Rosary, "...[T]he faithful receive an abundance of grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer." (1)

Citing such documents as Pope Leo XIII's encyclical, Supremi Apostolatus Officio and Pope Paul VI's Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus the Introduction also provides the reader with a brief historical note on the promotion of the Rosary from the past 150 years in the Church.

Saint Pope John Paul II also includes three other individuals from the Catholic Church who have made very significant contributions to spreading the Rosary Devotion: Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina and Blessed Bartolo Longo.

Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort's life was animated by the promotion of the Rosary and it resulted in the writing of two very well know publications in the Church: The Secret of The Rosary and True Devotion To Mary

Saint Pio of Pietrelcina, affectionately known as "Padre Pio," a figure closer to many in the Church, was constantly and consistently praying many Rosaries each day.

Blessed Bartolo Longo's Fifteen Saturdays Devotion promoted the Christocentric and contemplative heart of the Rosary with an extensive prayer program. Although not mentioned in the document, these historical notes build upon the long established tradition of the Rosary in the Catholic Church. It is a tradition that began with St. Dominic in 1214, who received the Rosary directly from Our Lady during an apparition, to combat the Albigensian heresy that was plaguing the region of Southern France. This important event in the history of the Catholic Church can be read from St. Louis De Montfort's Secret of The Rosary, Second Rose - Origin.

The prayer intention of peace is given a prominent inclusion in the Introduction. At the time of this document's release, the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center was still fresh in the minds of many. Since then, terrorist attacks have continued and peace has yet to be achieved in many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East and Africa. Peace can be obtained from God through the intercession of Our Lady.

Saint Pope John Paul II also pointed out the pressing need to pray for the family, the primary cell in society. He noted the attack on the family by menacing "...[F]orces of disintegration on both the ideological and practical planes..." (6) He also noted that the proper response to combat these attacks is the revival of the Rosary in Christian families that coupled with a wider pastoral ministry, will be an effective aid to countering the devastating effects of "...[T]his crisis typical of our age." (6) 

In Canada, it is easy to identify the "menacing forces." Ever since "same sex marriage" was legally recognized in 2005, the attacks on the family seemed to have increased at a rapid rate. The subtlety of the attacks comes in the form of deceptive language that has hijacked words such as rights, equality, inclusivity and freedom. The bold attacks have come in the form of: genderismpornography, abortion, euthanasia, New Age and occult children's literature such as Harry Potter, and political platforms and strategies such as Ontario's Equity and Inclusivity Strategy that has introduced, indoctrinated and normalized immorality.

There is hope for the future and all Catholics have the opportunity to make it a better one through the recitation of the Rosary. Anything is possible with God and with the Blessed Virgin Mary as our most powerful intercessor, there is good reason to be hopeful. Our Lady of The Rosary as she announced herself at Fatima, has stated in her Fifteen Promises to Christians who recite the Rosary, "You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary." (Promise11May you leave my blog encouraged to improve upon or begin your Rosary Devotion. The Church and the world are in need your prayers. 

Rest assured that I will continue to include in my daily Rosary, all those who visit my blog. Please pray for me.  


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