This coming Friday is October 13th. That’s a very important day! When Pope Francis prayed at the Chapel of the Apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Fatima, Portugal last May, he said, “Queen of the Rosary of Fatima! Grant that we may follow the example of Blessed Francisco and Blessed Jacinta.” At the upcoming 100th anniversary of the “Miracle of the Sun,” this Friday, when the sun “danced” in the sky before 70,000 people, confirming the message of Mary at Fatima, consider following the example of these new saints by praying the Rosary with us before the 8 am daily Mass, or on your own, and/or as a family. The Rosary is a method of contemplation. Below, I’m including for you some excerpts from St. Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, as I think it can offer us all some guidance in praying the various parts of the Rosary more fruitfully.
Announcing the Mystery “Announcing each mystery… is as it were to open up a scenario on which to focus our attention. The words direct the imagination and the mind towards a particular episode or moment in the life of Christ… Yet, even though the mysteries contemplated in the Rosary… do no more than outline the fundamental elements of the life of Christ, they easily draw the mind to a more expansive reflection on the rest of the Gospel, especially when the Rosary is prayed in a setting of prolonged recollection.” No. 29
Listening to the Word of God “In order to supply a Biblical foundation and greater depth to our meditation, it is helpful to follow the announcement of the mystery with the proclamation of a related Biblical passage, long or short, depending on the circumstances. No other words can ever match the efficacy of the inspired word. As we listen, we are certain that this is the word of God, spoken for today and spoken ‘for me’” No. 30
Silence “Listening and meditation are nourished by silence. After the announcement of the mystery and the proclamation of the word, it is fitting to pause and focus one’s attention for a suitable period of time on the mystery concerned, before moving into vocal prayer. A discovery of the importance of silence is one of the secrets of practicing contemplation and meditation.” Number 31
The “Our Father” “After listening to the word and focusing on the mystery, it is natural for the mind to be lifted up towards the Father. In each of his mysteries, Jesus always leads us to the Father, for as he rests in the Father’s bosom (cf. Jn 1:18) he is continually turned towards him… Acting as a kind of foundation for the Christological and Marian meditation which unfolds in the repetition of the Hail Mary, the Our Father makes meditation upon the mystery, even when carried out in solitude, an ecclesial experience.” No. 32
The ten “Hail Marys” “This is the most substantial element in the Rosary and also the one which makes it a Marian prayer par excellence. Yet when the Hail Mary is properly understood, we come to see clearly that its Marian character is not opposed to its Christological character, but that it actually emphasizes and increases it. The first part of the Hail Mary, drawn from the words spoken to Mary by the Angel Gabriel and by Saint Elizabeth, is a contemplation in adoration of the mystery accomplished in the Virgin of Nazareth.
These words express, so to speak, the wonder of heaven and earth; they could be said to give us a glimpse of God’s own wonderment as he contemplates his ‘masterpiece’ – the Incarnation of the Son in the womb of the Virgin Mary… The repetition of the Hail Mary in the Rosary gives us a share in God’s own wonder and pleasure: in jubilant amazement we acknowledge the greatest miracle of history. Mary’s prophesy here finds its fulfillment: ‘Henceforth all generations will call me blessed’ (Lk 1:48). The center of gravity in the Hail Mary, the hinge as it were which joins its two parts, is the name of Jesus. Sometimes, in hurried recitation, this center of gravity can be overlooked, and with it the connection to the mystery of Christ being contemplated. Yet it is precisely the emphasis given to the name of Jesus and to his mystery that is the sign of a meaningful and fruitful recitation of the Rosary.” No. 33
The “Gloria” “Trinitarian doxology is the goal of all Christian contemplation… It is important that the Gloria, the high-point of contemplation, be given due prominence in the Rosary. In public recitation it could be sung, as a way of giving proper emphasis to the essentially Trinitarian structure of all Christian prayer.” No. 34
The concluding short prayer “In current practice, the Trinitarian doxology is followed by a brief concluding prayer… [I]t is worthwhile to note 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 4 particular mystery. In this way the Rosary would better express its connection with the Christian life.” No. 35