- Posted by Guest Blogger
- On August 29, 2021
BY DANIELLA PALMIOTTO
During this time of the year when we celebrate various Marian feasts including the Assumption, the Queenship of Mary, and Mary’s Nativity before entering into the month of the Rosary in October, I invite you to take a step back and to join me in pondering the mystery of the gift that we have in Mary and the gift that we have in the Rosary. This apostolate of SoulCore was inspired by a desire to help others pray the Rosary with contemplation and intentionality so that the promised fruits of this prayer, including abundant grace and peace, may draw us closer to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, which is always the purpose of a Marian devotion. There have been many saints and Holy Fathers throughout the years who have encouraged the faithful to pray the Rosary, but there is one apostolic letter in particular that offers much insight to us in the modern age where distractions and entertainment abound. This letter by Pope St. John Paul II entitled Rosarium Virginis Mariae on the Most Holy Rosary was delivered on October 16, 2002 as he announced the Year of the Rosary from October 2002 through October 2003 and as he introduced the Mysteries of Light, also known as the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary.
In this letter, he emphasized that the Rosary is a Christocentric prayer: “with the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty of the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.” I think this is the best two sentence explanation for why someone should pray the Rosary that I’ve ever read! Sitting at the school of Mary to contemplate the face of Christ? Experiencing the depths of Christ’s love for us? Receiving abundant grace from the Mother of the Redeemer? Yes, yes, and yes, please! We learn so much from Mary because “no one has ever devoted himself to the contemplation of the face of Christ as faithfully as Mary.” She lived with her eyes fixed on Christ, treasuring his every word as Scripture tells us in the gospel of Luke “She kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” By reciting the Rosary, we enter into the school of Mary and look at Jesus through her memories and contemplative gaze, and we learn Mary’s way which is characterized by faith, silence, and attentive listening.
Pope St. John Paul II also discusses how the Rosary is personal for each one of us. He says that while we pray the Hail Mary’s, “the principal events of the life of Jesus Christ pass before the eyes of the soul…At the same time our heart can embrace in the decades of the Rosary all the events that make up the lives of individuals, families, nations, the Church, and all mankind…Thus the simple prayer of the Rosary marks the rhythm of human life.” As we pray, we are reflecting on the events in the life of Jesus while also recognizing the sorrows, joys, and glories of our own lives and the lives of our families, the world, and our Church. In SoulCore, there is an emphasis on the virtues of each of the mysteries because the virtues tie us personally to the mysteries. We will not personally experience the Annunciation, the Transfiguration, the Crucifixion of Christ, or the other mysteries, but we can meditate on the virtues that Christ and his Mother exuded in those mysteries. By meditating on their examples through the prayer of the Rosary, our hearts change gradually and almost imperceptibly so that we too may grow in these virtues as II Corinthians 3:18 states, “Beholding the glory of the Lord, we are being changed into his likeness, from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”
The Rosary is a prayer that fosters peace and that counters the modern crisis of the family. At the start of the third millennium when he issued this letter, Pope St. John Paul II recognized the lack of peace in the world, particularly in the Middle East. This unrest and violence has only grown in the last almost twenty years since he shared this letter. He also recognized the crisis of the family as the primary cell of society in the face of forces of disintegration. This disintegration of the family and attacks on the family have also grown since he wrote this letter. The Rosary is a powerful tool in the battle for peace in the world, in our hearts and minds, and in our families; it produces the fruits of charity and makes us peacemakers in the world; and it is a powerful tool to bring families together. Pope St. John Paul II was concerned that it was seen as a dry and boring exercise rather than as “an outpouring of that love which tirelessly returns to the person loved with expressions similar in their content but ever fresh in terms of the feeling pervading them.” To combat this misconception, the Holy Father offered suggestions for how to return to the practice of family prayer using the Rosary as he wrote “the family that prays together stays together.” He also emphasized characteristics of the Rosary that make it ever relevant and engaging. Many of these characteristics are part of every SoulCore offering!
Pope St. John Paul II wrote that the Rosary brings families together and by turning their eyes towards Jesus, “also regain the ability to look one another in the eye, to communicate, to show solidarity, to forgive one another and to see their covenant of love renewed in the Spirit of God.” The Holy Father noticed that many of the problems in families today are based on an increasing difficulty in communicating as they rarely come together, except maybe to watch TV. He wrote that praying the Rosary with children from their earliest years trains them to experience a daily “pause for prayer” with the family. He reiterated that the Rosary is not boring if prayed in an engaging way and if the children are encouraged to make this prayer their own! Having children lead decades, announce the mysteries, and read the Scripture are ways to get them excited about participating. SoulCore also has offerings for children to be able to move and pray the Rosary.
Pope St. John Paul II wrote that God respects our human nature and vital rhythms so Christian spirituality engages the whole person in all his complex psychological, physical and relational reality. He used the example of the Jesus Prayer, which is linked to the rhythm of breathing. In the same way, SoulCore links the prayer of the Rosary with our human rhythms and senses including breath, movement, calming and uplifting music, the visual beauty of the Rosary and maybe even sacred art, and sometimes even scent as candles are often a part of SoulCore offerings. The Holy Father expressed his concern with the rise of meditation related to non- Christian practices which view meditation as an end in itself. He offered the Rosary as a method of contemplation that was a means to an end rather than an end in itself. He suggested that reading related Scripture after announcing the mystery adds greater depth to our meditation. In SoulCore, there is a time of contemplation and meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary and a Scripture passage that is read to deepen our understanding of the virtue of that mystery. The Scriptures are healing and allow God to speak to us as the Holy Father stated, “no other words can ever match the efficacy of the inspired word.”
Pope St. John Paul II also emphasized the importance of silence while listening and meditating on the mysteries. He suggested silence after announcing the mystery and reading Scripture before moving into vocal prayer as we live in a technological world filled with mass media that makes silence increasingly difficult to achieve. This too is a unique feature of SoulCore that invites participants to enter into silence. The SoulCore leader prays the first half of the prayer and the second half is prayed internally inviting participants to enter more deeply into the words of the prayers, the mysteries, and the virtues of the Rosary. The Holy Father invites us to pray the Our Father’s, Hail Mary’s, and Gloria’s slowly and intentionally focusing on what these prayers represent. The Holy Father then stated that “the contemplation of the mysteries could better express their full spiritual fruitfulness if an effort were made to conclude each mystery with a prayer for the fruits specific to that particular mystery. In this way the Rosary would better express its connection with the Christian life.” SoulCore ends each mystery with a prayer asking for an increase of the virtues of that mystery so that participants are reminded again of those virtues, which can bear much fruit in their lives and in the lives of everyone they encounter.
Pope St. John Paul II wrote that the Rosary beads represent the chain that links us to God and reminds us of our many relationships and the bond of communion and fraternity which unites us all in Christ. In SoulCore, participants situate themselves around the Rosary, this chain that links us to God and to each other. When participants share their prayer intentions at the beginning of a SoulCore offering, each participant becomes invested in praying for the needs of everyone else. This becomes a united and bonded force of love that strengthens the resolve of each participant in difficult movements to offer up their struggle for the intentions of those around them. It is a reminder that we are not alone but are part of Christ’s mystical body.
What a gift we have in the Rosary! On the evening of September 8, the feast of the Nativity of Mary, we will offer a Zoom class to prepare us for the month of the Rosary. We will cover the origins of the Rosary, the importance of the Rosary, the efficaciousness of the Rosary, and more! We hope that you will join us as we learn more about this powerful prayer that brings peace to the world and unity in our families.You can register here for this free webinar: https://soulcore.com/sjpii-the-rosary-free-webinar/
Let’s end this reflection with the prayer of Blessed Bartolo Longo, with which Pope St. John Paul II concluded his apostolic letter:
O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain which unites us to God, bond of love which unites us to the angels, tower of salvation against the assaults of Hell, safe port in our universal shipwreck, we will never abandon you. You will be our comfort in the hour of death: yours our final kiss as life ebbs away. And the last word from our lips will be your sweet name, O Queen of the Rosary of Pompei, O dearest Mother, O Refuge of Sinners, O Sovereign Consoler of the Afflicted. May you be everywhere blessed, today and always, on earth and in heaven. Amen.
1 Note that all quotes contained herein come from the Apostolic Le6er wri6en by John Paul II en=tled “Rosarium Virginis Mariae on the Most Holy Rosary.” The Holy See, 16 Oct. 2002, h6ps://www.va=can.va/content/john-paul-ii/ en/apost_le6ers/2002/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_20021016_rosarium-virginis-mariae.html.