Feast of the Holy Rosary

Scripture Readings: Gal 1:1-2, 7-14;  Lk ll:1-4

Today we remember the gift of the rosary that our Blessed Mother gave to St. Dominic. It is one of the most beloved prayer-practices in the church. The gospel is appropriate to this memorial; it is about teaching disciples to pray. It gives us a prayer used six times in the rosary: The Our Father.

In the gospel of Matthew this prayer is located in the very center of the Sermon on the Mount. Like the Sermon it is a prayer for a community. It is taught to a community and it begins by addressing God as “Our Father.” Luke does not use “our”, but this (NM) community does. It is important to know what “our” means to us when we use it in this prayer. Is it all of us or is it some of us? The criteria Jesus used for “our” is given in the petitions of the prayer. Members should pray for what is most important in their relationship to God. This is given in the first three petitions: the sanctification of God’s name, the coming of His kingdom, and the doing of His will. If a man seeks these, is he truly seeking God and therefore one of us? This is important because it is more than criteria; it is a shared way of understanding our world, our experiences, and setting our allegiances.

The next three petitions ask for what is important to our own lives: the need for food that will sustain, the need for forgiveness, and for deliverance from temptation that threatens our belonging. These, too, determine how we experience our lives.

These six petitions form our psychological capacity for relationship with God and participation in the people of God. That capacity consists in our perception, our disposition, and our identity. The petitions form our perception. They ask for what we need-to-notice in life-situations that aid or detract from living the two great Love Commandments. They form our disposition. These petitions ask for readiness to make choices in favor of God and neighbor. And they form our identity. The petitions form who we know ourselves to be and what we want to become. They tell us what to care about. From this we get our commitments to causes and communities. It forms our loyalties. Who we identify with has tremendous influence on how these petitions affect our way of life. Community nurtures on-going awareness of who one is and is not.

The rosary includes meditation on the Christian story. Three stories should unite us as they united Jesus with His listeners: that of the promise God made to our ancestors; that of the liberation of slaves (whether from Egypt or from the bondage of self); and the gift of land to displaced peasants (i.e., a home where one belongs). These stories formed the background of everything Jesus taught. So, I think Jesus was serious about this. We should be, too.