Would you like to gain a big boost in your prayer life? Can you set aside fifteen minutes a day? That’s all it takes to pray the Rosary. The benefits you will gain will last into eternity.
The Rosary is a “compendium of the Gospel,” according to Saint John Paul II. Each of the mysteries of the Rosary takes an episode from the Gospel and offers it to us for meditation and prayer.
In his letter to the Romans, Saint Paul places the Gospel at the very center of the Christian life: “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel: it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed through faith for faith; as it is written, ‘He who through faith is righteous shall live’” (Rom 1:16-17).
We are saved by what Jesus did for us in his whole life, especially his suffering, death, and resurrection. We receive his saving grace through faith and the sacraments, and also through prayer.
In his letter on the Rosary, John Paul II also wrote that, “Mary constantly sets before the faithful the ‘mysteries’ of her Son, with the desire that the contemplation of those mysteries will release all their saving power” (no. 11). Isn’t that awesome? By praying with the mysteries of the Rosary we will receive all their saving power! That power is the power of Jesus Christ as found in the Gospel, for our salvation in eternal life.
But how can this happen? Here are two ways the simple prayer of the Rosary can do this for us:
Mary leads us to Jesus
Sometimes people think the Catholic Church puts too much emphasis on Mary. But Mary’s whole purpose is to lead us to Jesus. Mary is always showing us the way to Jesus. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that “What the Catholic faith believes about Mary is based on what it believes about Christ, and what it teaches about Mary illumines in turn its faith in Christ” (no. 487). Mary is never found alone because she is always with Jesus.
Who could ever know Jesus better than his own mother? And Mary wants nothing more than to show us Jesus and teach us about him. In praying the Rosary we enter into the “school of Mary.” In that school we don’t just learn about Jesus, but we get to know him in a personal way. In the second luminous mystery, the miracle at Cana, Mary says the only words recorded of her in the Gospel of John: “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn 2:5). If we do whatever Jesus tells us, we will soon grow into a more loving and faithful disciple of Jesus. We will take into our hearts all of his words we read in the Gospels and live them better in our daily lives. As we pray the Rosary, Mary, like a good teacher, will always remind us of what Jesus did and said.
Although some of the mysteries of the Rosary focus a little more directly on Mary, most of them focus directly on Jesus. With each action of his life, Jesus not only gave us an example but also merited for us the grace attached to it. Everything he did can be called a “mystery” in a broad sense, because Jesus is both human and divine. His actions have an infinite power because of his divinity. When we meditate on them, we come into contact with the saving power he gained for us through that action. That is what Pope John Paul meant by saying the mysteries release their saving power. Praying the Rosary has the power to make us a little more like Jesus each time we pray it.
Mary obtains the gifts of the Holy Spirit for us
Mary was filled with the Holy Spirit from the very first moment of her conception. She was preserved from original sin and filled with an abundance of grace. She received a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit throughout her life, but especially at the Annunciation and at Pentecost. When she was at prayer with the Apostles in the Upper Room, the Holy Spirit came upon them all. Filled with the Holy Spirit, the Apostles went out to preach to the people. Mary stayed behind in order to pray. She kept on praying for them and for all the disciples, especially that they would keep on receiving a fuller outpouring of grace.
Mary still does the same for us today. In heaven she continues to pray for all of us, and is most eager to hear our prayers. She presents them to Jesus, who cannot resist the pleas of his mother. Blessed James Alberione writes, “Let us take refuge in Mary. She is a powerful, merciful, and understanding Mother.” She obtains for us both material and spiritual blessings, especially the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In each mystery of the Rosary, Mary obtains for us a special gift of the Holy Spirit. That is another way the mysteries release all the saving power of the Gospel.
October, the month dedicated to the Rosary, is a good time to deepen our devotion to Mary through the Rosary. We will never regret giving her this gift of our time, for she will pour out on us more blessings than we can even imagine!
Marianne Lorraine Trouvé, FSP