We celebrate the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on Oct. 7.
Catholics are sometimes accused of focusing our attention on Mary rather than Jesus, with our devotion to the Rosary being a prime example. But the accusation is mistaken, with respect to the Rosary in particular, and with respect to all Catholic teaching about Mary. The Rosary, first and foremost, is all about Jesus. All the mysteries focus on some aspect of His life, and our sharing in it.
We pray the Rosary to contemplate the life of Jesus more deeply. And we contemplate the life of Jesus more deeply so that we can follow Him and let Him live in us more completely. If we ask for Mary’s help in the process — and we do! — there’s a simple explanation. As we contemplate the life of Jesus, and let His life grow in us, we grow as members of His body. And as we grow in Him, His mystical body — the Church — matures. In God’s plan, it has always been Mary’s task to nurture the growth of the body of Christ: first His physical body, and now His mystical body.
The Father’s plan is clear: that we become sons and daughters in His eternal Son. The more we let Jesus live in us, the more the Father, when He looks at us, sees a reflection of His Son. That’s the key to our salvation, and the Rosary helps us to do that.
Likewise, the Holy Spirit’s role is clear: to give us a share Jesus’ life. It’s not possible to follow His example by human strength alone. So the Holy Spirit gives us His life as a gift, to heal what’s wounded by sin and elevate what’s merely human into the divine life. The Rosary helps us to understand and nurture that gift of Jesus’ life within us.
Our lives need to be patterned on Jesus’ life. The Rosary helps us to measure our own lives against that pattern. That helps us to know where we need to say a deeper “yes” to the Spirit, so that our lives will match the pattern of Jesus’ life more closely. And that’s the great striving of our lives: to be conformed to His life on earth, so that we can be conformed to His life in heaven.
St. John Eudes said, “We must continue to accomplish in ourselves the stages of Jesus’ life and His mysteries, and often beg Him to perfect and realize them in us and in the whole Church.” The truth is, we don’t live up to the pattern of Jesus’ life. But when we pray the Rosary we come to a deeper knowledge of that pattern. That gives us a tool, not only to measure our lives but also to ask for help in the places where we fall short.
So let’s pray the Rosary, and let Mary help us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus.