Dear Friends in Christ,
Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!
First of all; allow me to thank so many of you for your support since last week’s Blog – I am most grateful! May our sufferings for such a stance be an offering for these innocents!
The Rosary has been, and still is, a foundational prayer for very many Catholics throughout the world. It is also a much loved form of prayer, and a devotion to the mother of Jesus Christ. Initially at least, the Rosary may seem to some rather monotonous, especially with its succession of Hail Marys. Through gradual and faithful recitation, however, it grows on us and becomes part of our regular and daily prayer life. Such a fruitful and familiar routine is good for the soul!
The Rosary is also closely associated with processions at the great Marian shrines, and in the apparitions of Our Blessed Lady to St. Bernadette at Lourdes the young future saint noticed on one occasion how Mary was silently fingering her Rosary beads.
In doing so Our Lady was surely giving her approval to this form of prayer. Successive Popes have regularly encouraged the praying of the Rosary, and the deep attachment of St. John Paul II to the Rosary is well known. The origins of the Rosary go back centuries, and its widespread recitation was felt to be instrumental in the victory for Christian civilisation at the battle of Lepanto in 1570.
While the Rosary is an act of Catholic piety and popular devotion, it is a prayer with solid Christological foundations, for at its heart are the mysteries of our divine Lord’s life, death and resurrection. The fairly recent addition by Pope St. John Paul of the Mysteries of Light further highlight saving episodes of the Lord’s earthly life: his baptism, his first miracle at Cana, the calling of the first disciples, his Transfiguration, and the institution of the Holy Eucharist at the Last Supper. Meditation on these mysteries constitute a rich form of prayer and at the same time leads us ever more deeply into the earthly life and ministry of the Incarnate Son of God.
One attraction of the Rosary is its simplicity. Furthermore, as a prayer it is deeply rooted in Scripture, and so linked to that divine truth which almighty God wishes us human beings to have. By reciting the Rosary we are opening ourselves, as did Our Lady, to the gentle impulses of the Holy Spirit who guides us as believing individuals and as a Church. Prayer is a powerful instrument for the good of the world, and only God can know the real impact and effect that the countless daily recitation of the Rosary can have. When we are alone and reciting the Rosary we should remember that we form part of a veritable tidal wave of prayer arising from earth to heaven. In fact, when we pray we are never alone!
Earlier this month, 13th October, on the occasion of the centenary of the apparitions of Our Lady to the children at Fatima, Catholics around the world following the urgings of Our Lady united in saying the Rosary for peace on that particular day.
A remarkable manifestation of attachment to the Rosary coinciding with the anniversary took place in Poland, when reputably over one million people united in praying the Rosary, partly for Poland, partly for Europe, and for the needs of the world as a whole. This initiative was lay-inspired and lay-led and demonstrates the deep affection and love of the Polish people for Our Lady and the unique prayer we call the Rosary. Sentiments which are widely shared throughout the universal Church.
October is traditionally a month of the Rosary. May this lovely prayer be an irreplaceable part of our daily life, and we need not doubt that through it Mary will help us now, and especially at the hour of our death.
Sincerest good wishes and prayers,
As ever in Christ,
+Michael G Campbell OSA
Bishop of Lancaster