A year and nine months later, Blessed John Paul published his beautiful meditation on Mary and the rosary. In it he explicitly connects that letter to his letter on the new millennium. With that letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, he began a “Year of the Rosary,” stating that in NMI he invited us all “to start afresh from Christ” and that his reflection on the rosary should be seen as an extension of that invitation because “to recite the rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.”
We find ourselves now at the beginning of the month of October, dedicated to Mary and to the rosary. Recently we have taken this beautiful Catholic tradition and applied our devotion to Mary with a particular emphasis on our respect for all human life, life in the womb, life at its earliest and last stages, the life of every human being, especially when that life is vulnerable, innocent or marginalized.
The deeper one enters into the mystery of Mary as Mother of our Savior and we begin to grasp the depth and the meaning of the relationship between Mother and Son, the more we too can understand how elements of our faith can be nourished and given ever more fruitful expression in our own lives as we imitate her. Blessed John Paul helps us by calling our attention to Mary as the model of contemplation. He tells us, “In a unique way the face of the Son belongs to Mary.” He goes on to describe how Mary looked upon her Son from the moment of His birth. “Thereafter, Mary’s gaze, ever filled with adoration and wonder, would never leave Him.” This gaze was ever on Him in His preaching and healing, in His passion and especially at the foot of the cross. And Blessed John Paul adds, “On the morning of Easter hers would be a gaze radiant with the joy of the Resurrection, and, finally, on the day of Pentecost, a gaze afire with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.”
We too can approach Christ with that same desire to gaze upon Him, know Him and love Him ever more deeply if we contemplate Jesus in company with Mary. All the mysteries of the rosary are opportunities day after day to do just that. In his letter on the rosary, the Holy Father offers us not only a reflection on the three traditional sets of mysteries, the joyful, the sorrowful and the glorious. He gives us a new set of mysteries, the luminous mysteries, which focus on key events during the earthly life of Jesus.
In urging us all to continue to pray the rosary daily or to re-discover the rosary for ourselves and for all the needs of the Church and world, Blessed John Paul shows us the way to re-commit ourselves every day to the protection, defense and fostering of human life. The more one ponders the mysteries in the company of Mary, the more we will discover the bonds that unite us to God and to every member of the human family. Our respect for life finds its origin in God’s creative love that first formed us in His own image. That respect and devotion become solidified as we unite ourselves to the Mother of New Life and to that new life, her Son, who re-creates us into His brothers and sisters through His redemption of the world as our Savior. That respect for life seen through the prism of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is reinforced within us by Mary’s union with her Son and her union with us all.
Recently I received a memo from Allison O’Brien, who is the new director of our diocesan Respect Life Office. She gave me the Good News which listed 57 participating parishes covering 28 days in October offering 101 Rosary and Adoration for Life opportunities here in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. It would be my hope that as many persons as possible participate in this great act of prayer and adoration that reinforces what we teach and believe: respect and defense of every human being from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death. It would be my hope that other parishes might contact the Respect Life Office (516-678-5800 ext. 626 or 381; or email www.drvc.org/respectlife) and become part of this good initiative.
[Click Here For A Schedule of Participating Parishes in the Rosary and Adoration Program]
In addition I am happy to tell you that Allison and the Respect Life Office are developing a new Project Rachel Network. As a consultant to our U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Pro-Life Office, I have been involved from the beginning in this new effort. Grateful indeed to Allison for turning her attention to this new and highly promising initiative, I would ask as many priests as can to become involved in this good work which is so needed for the spiritual, emotional and physical well-being of all those who have been touched by the sad experience of an abortion and the often traumatic aftermath of abortion. The Church wishes to accompany women, men and children, in re-discovering God’s love, His forgiveness and reconciliation, as they move forward accompanied by the Church whose priests seek to be good shepherds to all who may be hurt or seeking help.
In this month of Mary, we entrust these and all the other good works that promote and defend human life to Mary, as we pray the rosary to her and with her, and commend to her loving care all our brothers and sisters, especially the most vulnerable, the innocent, the weak, the marginalized:
O Queen of the Rosary, O Dearest Mother, O Refuge of Sinners, O Sovereign Comforter of the Afflicted. May you be everywhere blessed, today and always, on earth and in heaven. Amen.”