As many of you are aware, our house at the Cathedral is a house of runners. While not all of us run every day like Bishop Paprocki, and not all of us run as fast as Father Rankin, we all have been known to “pound the pavement” around town with some regularity. I have to admit that I do not love running. Do not get me wrong, it is good exercise and it is something that I do not mind doing. I just find it difficult to get motivated to get outside and, once I start running, to keep going! For me, the secret to boosting my motivation is the Rosary. I always carry a finger rosary with me and I find that praying the Rosary keeps my mind occupied with holy thoughts, distracting me from the discomfort of running.
Several years ago, a priest made suggestion to me about how I might get more out of praying the Rosary. He invited me to pause at the end of each decade, asking Mary what she wanted me to understand about the mystery that I had just prayed. This practice has been extremely fruitful, as it helps me from turning the Rosary into a repetitive set of words without much reflection.
October is the Month of the Rosary, so it can be a good time for us to examine the role this devotion plays in our spiritual life. Maybe you find yourself struggling with not getting much out of the Rosary, feeling that it is too repetitive. Perhaps you can adopt the practice that was suggested to me, one which I make use of regularly.
As you know, our theme for our Family of Faith catechesis program for this month is our Vocation to Beatitude. I like to tie this theme of Beatitude to the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, because these mysteries focus especially on the Resurrection which is the event that makes our sharing in heavenly beatitude possible. The final two Glorious Mysteries are the Assumption of Mary and the Coronation of Mary. These two mysteries invite us to reflect on the fact that, at the end of her earthly journey, Jesus welcomed His mother into Heaven, body and soul, to share in this gift of eternal beatitude. As I stop at the end of these two mysteries, asking Mary for her guidance to understand them, I am always drawn by the image of the joy the she must have in being reunited with her son, knowing that nothing will ever separate them again. This thought strengthens within me a desire to share in that same gift when I reach the end of my journey.
Another image that comes to mind when I reflect on these two mysteries is the desire that Mary has for us, her children, to share in this gift as well. After all, at the foot of the Cross, Jesus gave her to us to be our mother. The thought of her longing for us to be in Heaven should bring us great peace. But even more than our awareness of her desire for us to be with her and her son is the fact that she is constantly working on our behalf to have that desire realized. Each time when we pray the Hail Mary, we ask her: “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” She is right next to her son in Heaven, constantly asking Him to help us. There is no moment in our lives, no matter how difficult, that she is not praying for us and as a result, there is not a single moment when her son is not happily accepting her request for us, sending us the graces we need to persevere and one day join them in Heaven.
During this month of October, perhaps we can ask our Blessed Mother to help us to understand how in each of the mysteries of the Rosary, they reveal God’s love for us and His plan for us to be with Him forever in Heaven. She can help us to see how through His life, death, and Resurrection, He has each of us in mind, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (Jn 3:17)