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Our Lady of the Rosary : 7 October 2019
I remember very clearly a story our novice master told us seminarians in 1968, about his Mother and the Rosary. He admitted to us that he was critical of his Mother because she only used the Rosary for prayer. He wanted to teach her meditation with the scriptures and she politely submitted to her son just to make him happy. It was not going well, she missed her former way of praying and when he saw how deep into meditation, the Rosary took her, he was awed and also ashamed that he never really listened to her or watched her pray. There are so many, almost infinite ways to pray, especially for Catholics. Some pray only with the scriptures, some play their own music, or listen to others music or audio books in the car. Some make use of artistic contemplative creations like icons, paintings or statues. Also some find that nature brings them immediately into God’s presence, I remember my students in Denver telling me that, and I remember my students in Boston telling me they prayed on the subway with a book, or just noticing the suffering of others. Many read spiritual books like the life of a saint, and once again, there are an endless variety of saints to choose from. And...some pray with the Rosary. My kindergarten teacher, a Precious Blood Sister from Dayton, Ohio, taught us the Rosary in its most simple form. Then my Mother helped me learn what Sister had taught us, so I too, naturally associate the Rosary with Mom. I try to begin my prayer every day with the Rosary, then move into some scripture. Lately, I’ve been reading Isaiah using a great book to supplement my reading called “The Fifth Gospel: Isaiah in the History of Christianity” by John Sawyer. Before that I was deeply immersed in the Book of Job, for obvious reasons in our challenging times. I found a heartbreaking comparison with Psalm 139, where the psalmist finds God everywhere, with chapter 23 in Job, where he cannot find God anywhere. Job’s cruel yet theologically sophisticated “friends” taunt him with their dead speeches, and inability to actually minister to his or anyone’s suffering. I think we have all found people like this when we reach out while suffering. I love Job’s humble statement of faith to his wife, “Shall we accept only the good things from the hand of God and never anything bad ? So in all this, Job said nothing wrong.” (Job 2:10) But the two sides to anyone’s spiritual life are going to be going back and forth with darkness, nothingness, times of desolation and also times of illumination and feeling engulfed in God’s love. I think it was St. John of the Cross who said a good spiritual director is one in a thousand , then it was St Francis de Sales, who later added, no, one in ten thousand. These exaggerations make a sad point; that it’s rare to find someone to accompany you through darkness without blaming you, like the “friends” of Job, for it. It’s during all times, light or dark that I find the Rosary a most beautiful, and comforting way to pray. I pray at night to go to sleep, I pray often, while sleeping, and I wake up with the Rosary. In my humble opinion and experience, I simply offer it to you, whatever you may be going through. A most blessed feast of Our Lady of the Rosary!
Fr Bill McNichols
7 October 2019