In his 2002 apostolic exhortation on the Holy Rosary, “Rosarium Virginis Mariae,” Pope St. John Paul II refers to the Rosary as his favorite prayer. He reveals the Rosary as a path of contemplation, a prayer for peace for the family and an opportunity to follow the witness of the saints who found in the Rosary a path to holiness. The teachings of this document unfold, in language everyone can understand, the meaning, truth and grace of this Christ-centered prayer:
“The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God, is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains … a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness…
“Against the background of the words ‘Ave Maria,’ the principal events of the life of Jesus Christ pass before the eyes of the soul. They take shape in the complete series of the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries, and they put us in living communion with Jesus through – we might say – the heart of his mother. At the same time, our heart can embrace in the decades of the Rosary all the events that make up the lives of individuals, families, nations, the Church and all mankind. Our personal concerns and those of our neighbor, especially those who are closest to us, who are dearest to us. Thus the simple prayer of the Rosary marks the rhythm of human life.”
Throughout his pontificate, Pope St. John Paul II prayed the Rosary daily, and his practice was an inspiration to Pope Francis while he was still Cardinal Bergoglio. The cardinal wrote of a time when he was praying the Rosary as it was being led by the Holy Father.
“In the middle of the prayer I became distracted, looking at the figure of the Pope: his pity, his devotion was a witness,” he wrote. “And the time drifted away, and I began to imagine the young priest, the seminarian, the poet, the worker, the child from Wadowice… in the same position in which knelt at that moment, reciting Ave Maria after Ave Maria. His witness struck me.”
From that time on, the cardinal who became Pope Francis has prayed the 15 decades of the Rosary daily.
~ Compiled by Mary Morrell, correspondent