The Holy Rosary: A Contemplative Prayer
The Holy Father exhorts the faithful to pray the Rosary with love and devotion but also invites us to enter more deeply into the mysteries of our Lord's life through meditation and contemplation. He says: "The Rosary, precisely because it starts with Mary's own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative dimension. Without contemplation it would lose its meaning, as Pope Paul VI clearly pointed out in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus: "Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul. a mechanical repetition of formulas which may be reduced to a collection of empty phrases and may not have any real effect in our daily life" (RVM 12).
In the rosary, we contemplate the face of Christ with Mary. By its nature, the recitation of the Rosary calls for a quiet rhythm and a lingering pace to help the individual medicate on the mysteries of our Lord's life. These are seen through the eyes of Mary, who was closest to her Son. Mary, who 'pondered in her heart' on the mysteries of her son, as St. Luke tells us, indicates the Virgin's inner, personal relationship with the mysteries of our Lord - an attitude the Church requires from believers if the devotion is to be fruitful. Remembering the mysteries of Christ with Mary is a golden rule of contemplative prayer. In fact, the faithful praying the Rosary often spontaneously announce the mysteries of each day with the simple words: "Today, let us contemplate the Joyful/Sorrowful/Glorious/Luminous Mysteries." When the Rosary is prayed with devotion meditating on the various mysteries with inner assimilation, it becomes a school of prayer. It is an experience of close communion with the Father through Christ and the Holy Spirit. It helps in deepening the grace of the sacraments, Christian life and the apostolic mission.
To reach the goal of contemplative prayer as we recite the Rosary, it is necessary to create first of all an atmosphere of silence, recollection of mind and heart, and pay special attention to what is said. St. Therese of the Child Jesus, who had a special devotion to the Rosary, emphasized the contemplative nature of the vocal recitation of the Our Father, Hail Mary and praise to the Trinity, as moments of communion with the Holy Trinity in company with Mary.
The announcement of the mysteries is a strong invitation to meditate on the Word of God. The reading of a short biblical passage, or a brief sentence summing up the mystery, can be an effective help. Mary, who with her motherhood made visible the mystery of the invisible God, is our guide in this loving, interior meditation. In contemplating the mystery of the son with the eyes of the mother, from Nazareth to Bethlehem, from Egypt to Jerusalem, from Cana to Calvary, from the Upper Room to the Mount of Olives, from the Empty Tomb to the Father's Right Hand, in the Glorious, Joyful, Sorrowful and Luminous Mysteries, she who formed an integral part of these mysteries is a great help. As the Hail Mary's are said, the mind and heart and invited to fix their gaze on the Gospel scenes.
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