Rosarium Virginis Mariae: Chapter 3

You’ve come to read the next installment of the Apostolic letter of Pope John Paul II called Rosarium Virginis Mariae. I’ve already done an overview, and post on each section of the letter so far, the introduction, chapter 1 and chapter 2).


This chapter Pope John Paul II talks about the components of a good Rosary. He begins with looking at how love seems to entwine the prayer. “To understand the Rosary, one has to enter into the psychological dynamic proper to love.” The prayers may be directed to Mary but the act of love in the Rosary is ultimately directed to Jesus through Mary. John Paul bring up the repetition of the prayer and how that connects to the Liturgy and sacraments even bringing up Jesus asking Peter three times “Do you Love me?” and the Jesus Prayer from the Eastern Church. These meditative prayers pull together all the dimensions of the person to try and awaken a deeper understanding of our faith and John Paul II noted in Novo Millennio Ineunte the need for more meditation in the Western Church. The Rosary is one of these meditative prayers which he expresses a desire for more people to pray.

The next segment of this chapter looks at how to pray the Rosary in a meditative way. We being by announcing the mystery and John Paul suggests that we follow the Ignatian Exercises (where we place ourselves in the event) as a way to go deeper into each mystery. John Paul adds this is no substitute for lectio divina, and also suggest adding the Biblical reference like reading the biblical account of the mystery after the announcement. This joining of the mystery and the Bible allows God to speak to us. His next step is something difficult in the world today, silence. We need to be silent as it is one of the secrets of practicing contemplation and meditation. Listening for God voice in this period of silence can help calm and center us in this crazy world we live in.

From here Pope John Paul II goes on to the prayers beginning with the Our Father.  His Holiness says that after our silence reflection it is natural for our mind to go to the Father. “Acting as a kind of foundation for the Christological and Marian meditation which unfolds in the repetition of the Hail Mary, the Our Father makes meditation upon the mystery, even when carried out in solitude, an ecclesial experience.” He continues with the ten Hail Mary’s saying that we need to understand the prayer and how to properly say it (emphasis on Jesus) first to truly understand the meaning of the Rosary. “It is at once a profession of faith and an aid in concentrating our meditation, since it facilitates the process of assimilation to the mystery of Christ inherent in the repetition of the Hail Mary.” This lead to the Gloria Patri, the doxology, John Paul II says that “It is important that the Gloria, the high-point of contemplation, be given due prominence in the Rosary.” Sure this being a short prayer it barely registers as being said  I’ve on occasion skipped the Gloria Patri or said it multiple times without noticing it. This bring the Holy Spirit to the Rosary as well. There is another paragraph about additional prayers that people add to the Rosary saying that they are fine to add. The Pope also comments on how the Rosary begins and end around the world.

John Paul next focuses on the Rosary itself the beads and the loop it makes coming back to the crucifix. This is similar to life the Pope says as everything we do comes from him and leads to him. Christ needs to be the center of our lives.  The chapter end with a section about when to pray the Rosary, he notes that some people pray it every day and offers a suggestion as to which day which mystery is to be recited. Joyful on Monday and Saturday; Sorrowful on Tuesday and Friday; Glorious on Wednesday and Sunday; and Luminous on Thursday. These are just a suggestion like the addition of the Luminous mysteries as well.


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