Homily for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary
Theme: THE PSALTER OF MARY!
By: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
*Mal 3: 13 – 4: 2, Lk 11:5 – 13.
Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. I will like to use this opportunity to explain the secret behind this prayer called ‘rosary’ that Catholics often say. The rosary is called the ‘Psalter of Mary’ – the psalms of Mary. The psalms have been traditionally regarded as the prayer of the church – looks sometimes dry, out of touch with our own situations & context & sometimes even disagreeable with our modern theological understandings. Yet, when we pray the psalms well, we feel connected; we feel wired with the Universal Church/ People of God. That tells you what prayer is supposed to be – not so much of personal adumberations of our wishes to God but more of a spiritual networking; hmm! more like connecting with the heavenly internet! – sometimes, just browsing & seeing what others have posted without even making your personal input!
The rosary originated sometime in the 12th & 13th centuries. History has it that Our Lady herself gave it & taught it to St Dominic during his fight with the Albigentian heresy & after the battle of Lepato, the miraculous victory of Christians with no weapon except through a rosary procession, popularized the prayer tremendously. I just want to compare the rosary with the psalms & the ‘Our father’; the 2 most traditional prayer samples of the Church. The old rosary (before the recent addition of 5 decades by Pope John Paul II) contains 150 ‘Hail Marys’ corresponding to the number of psalms in the bible & 50 ‘Our Fathers’. The ‘Hail Mary’ resembles the ‘Our Father’ in many ways both in style & content. The 3 most assertive phrases in ‘Our Father’ are:
1. Hallowed be thy name (Prayer of praise)
2. Give us this day our daily bread (Prayer of petition) and
3. Forgive us our sins & deliver us from all evil (Prayer of deliverance).
The 3 most assertive phrases in the ‘Hail Mary’ are:
1. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you (Praise of Mary), Lk 1:28.
2. Blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus (Praise of Jesus) and
3. Pray for us sinners now & at the hour of our death (Prayer of petition/ deliverance/ intercession).
I wonder why some people think the Rosary is Mary – oriented, unscriptural & smacks of idolatory. For me, it is more Jesus – oriented than many prayers people say today. Every rosary of 5 decades makes you call the name of Jesus more than 50 times, and so, every knee must bow 50 times, including that of Satan, Phil 2:10. Every full rosary contains 20 decades of meditation divided into the 4 Mysteries of our Lord; The Joyful, the Sorrowful, Glorious & Luminous, each mystery highlighting the whole event of Christ’s birth, life, teachings, suffering, death, resurrection with only 2 or 3 emphasis on Mary’s role & crown. According to Bridge McKenna, ‘The rosary is a deeply contemplative prayer…It is walking with Mary through the life of Jesus’. It is high time Christians began to ask Jesus again, like the disciples did: ‘Lord, teach us to pray’ because, watching the way we pray nowadays, we see plenty of confusions. Like the friend at midnight in today’s gospel, we need to learn to persevere in prayer using the very words which will appeal most to the heart of Jesus our master. The rosary makes you talk less & hand over the business of talking to God to those who have the right words to articulate our whims & travails to God. The resultant effect is perfect peace of soul, Phil 4:7.
May the Lord bless you today!
FOR A SIMILAR HOMILY ON OUR LADY, CLICK HERE>>>>>