October, Month of the Holy Rosary

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Cum Maria contemplemur Christi vultum!

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I intend to post something on the Rosary each day during this month of October. To begin the month, I want to share an excerpt from Pope John Paul II's Message for the World Day of Missions in 2003. He presented the whole mission of the Church in relation to the Holy Face of Christ, and the Rosary as a contemplation of the Face of Christ with Mary.

A more contemplative Church: the face of Christ contemplated

3. Cum Maria contemplemur Christi vultum! These words often come to mind: contemplate the "face" of Christ with Mary. When we speak of the "face" of Christ, we refer to his human likeness in which the eternal glory of the Father's only Son shines out (cf. Jn 1,14): "The glory of the Godhead shines forth from the face of Christ" (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, n. 21). Contemplating the face of Christ leads to a deeper, interior familiarity with his mystery. Contemplating Jesus with the eyes of faith impels one to penetrate the mystery of the Trinitarian God. Jesus says:"He who has seen me has seen the Father" (Jn 14,9). With the Rosary we advance on this mystical journey "in union with, and at the school of, his Most Holy Mother" (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, n. 3). Indeed, Mary makes herself our teacher and our guide. Under the action of the Holy Spirit, she helps us acquire that "serene boldness" which enables believers to pass on to others their experience of Jesus and the hope that motivates them (cf. Redemptoris missio, n. 24).

Let us always look to Mary, an unequalled model. All the words of the Gospel find an extraordinary echo in her soul. Mary is the contemplative "memory" of the Church, who lives with the desire to be deeply united with her Bridegroom, in order to have an ever greater impact on our society. How do we react to the great problems, the innocent suffering, the injustices perpetrated with arrogant insolence? At the docile school of Mary, who is our Mother, believers learn to recognize in the apparent "silence of God" the Word who resounds in the silence for our salvation.

A holier Church: the face of Christ imitated and loved

4. Through baptism all believers are called to holiness. In the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, the Second Vatican Council stresses that the universal vocation to holiness consists in the call of all to the perfection of charity.

Holiness and mission are inseparable aspects of the vocation of every baptized person. The commitment to become more holy is closely linked to that of spreading the message of salvation. In Redemptoris missio I recalled, "Every member of the faithful is called to holiness and to mission" (n. 90). In contemplating the mysteries of the Rosary, the believer is encouraged to follow Christ and to share his life so that he can say with St Paul: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2,20).

If all the mysteries of the Rosary constitute an important school of holiness and evangelization, the mysteries of light bring into relief special aspects of our Gospel "sequela". The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan recalls that the baptized are chosen to become "sons in the Son" (Eph 1,5; cf. Gaudium et spes, n. 22). At the wedding feast of Cana, Mary invites the servants to listen obediently to the Word of the Lord: "Do whatever he tells you" (Jn 2,5). The proclamation of the Kingdom and the invitation to conversion are a clear mandate to everyone to pursue the path of holiness. In the Transfiguration of Jesus, the baptized person experiences the joy that awaits him. In meditating upon the institution of the Eucharist, he returns often to the Upper Room, where the divine Master left his disciples his most precious treasure: himself in the Sacrament of the altar.

In a certain sense it is the words that the Blessed Virgin pronounces at Cana that form the Marian background for all the mysteries of light. Indeed, the proclamation of the Kingdom at hand, the call to conversion and mercy, the Transfiguration on Mount Tabor and the institution of the Eucharist find a special echo in Mary's heart. Mary keeps her eyes fixed on Christ, treasures his every word and shows us how to be genuine disciples of her Son.

A more missionary Church: the Face of Christ proclaimed

5. At no other time has the Church had so many possibilities of proclaiming Jesus, thanks to the development of the means of social communication. For this reason, the Church today is called to make the Face of her Bridegroom shine forth with her more radiant holiness. In this far from easy effort, she knows she is sustained by Mary. From Mary she "learns" to be a "virgin", totally dedicated to her Spouse, Jesus Christ, and a "mother" of many children whom she brings forth to eternal life.

Under the watchful gaze of her Mother, the ecclesial community flourishes like a family revived by the powerful outpouring of the Spirit, and, accepting the challenges of the new evangelization, contemplates the merciful face of Jesus in the brothers and sisters, especially the poor and needy, in those far from the faith and the Gospel. In particular, the Church is not afraid to cry to the world that Christ is "the Way, the Truth, and the Life" (Jn 14,6). She is not afraid to proclaim joyfully that "good news, which has as its heart and its whole content the person of Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, the one Saviour of the world" (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, n. 20).

It is necessary to prepare capable and holy evangelizes. The fervour of the apostles must not be allowed to weaken, especially in regard to the mission ad gentes. The Rosary, if it is fully rediscovered and appreciated, is an ordinary yet fruitful pedagogical and spiritual tool to form the People of God to work in the vast field of apostolic action.

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About Dom Mark

Dom Mark Daniel Kirby is Conventual Prior of Silverstream Priory in Stamullen, County Meath, Ireland. The ecclesial mandate of his Benedictine community is the adoration of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar in a spirit of reparation, and in intercession for the sanctification of priests.

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