Decades of Faith

Sept. 18-24, 2003
Decades of Faith
By Eileen Jevis/ SUN staff writer
SUN photo(s) Paul Finch
Our Lady of Angels Church holds rosary rally honoring the Year of the Rosary

Endwell –– Pope John Paul II enhanced the power of the rosary when he proclaimed October 2002 – October 2003 the Year of the Rosary. “To pray the rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ,” the pope wrote in his apostolic letter, “Rosarium Virginis Mariae,” released Oct. 16, 2002.

In celebration of the Year of the Rosary and to encourage devotion to this profound prayer, 225 people gathered for the Rosary Rally at Our Lady of Angels Church on Sept. 6. Faithful people with shiny beads woven through their fingers came together in prayer. The day, sponsored by the Nazareth Marian Center, also included explanations and reflection on the four sets of mysteries, a healing service led by Father James Fallon and Mass concelebrated by Bishop James Moynihan and Father John Roock, pastor of Our Lady of Angels Church. During the homily, Bishop Moynihan urged the faithful to follow the message of Pope John Paul II and recite the rosary devoutly. “I simply ask you to pray the rosary,” Bishop Moynihan said. “There might be some of you who have never adopted the practice, but now is the time to start. Pray the rosary now. Pray it however often you can.” The bishop continued by sharing his personal devotion to the rosary. “The rosary has always been an important prayer in my life,” said Bishop Moynihan. He recalled buying a rosary, with reddish beads and a silver crucifix, when he was a little boy. “That rosary, at $5, was the most expensive thing I ever bought for myself. Yet it was also the most precious thing I had ever bought for myself,” Bishop Moynihan said. “That was how my devotion to the rosary got started and it has not diminished.”

Bishop Moynihan emphasized the need for recitation of the rosary, a great spiritual weapon, for peace in what Pope John Paul II calls “a culture of death.” “There is a great need to pray the rosary against abortion, euthanasia, contraceptive practices, terrorist attacks, genocides of all kinds –– all those who want to get rid of human life,” said the bishop. “Only God knows how much worse it would be without the rosary and Mass. You are a tremendous force against what, to me, seems to be attacks on life itself.” “Carry the rosary with you as a reminder that when we hold fast to that chain we can be sure that Mary is holding the other end of it and that she, with her Son, will bring about victory to the world,” he added.

The roots of rosary history are hard to trace, but there is no doubt that it is an important part of the Catholic tradition. “The rosary, reclaimed in its full meaning, goes to the very heart of Christian life,” Pope John Paul II wrote. “It offers a familiar yet fruitful spiritual and educational opportunity for personal contemplation, the formation of the people of God and the new evangelization.” St. Dominic is often credited with popularizing the use of the rosary. According to church tradition, Mary inspired St. Dominic to use it as a teaching aid to fight the Albigensian heresy, which denied that Christ could be both human and divine. The Albigensians believed the body was evil.

In 2002, Pope John Paul II added to the rosary the Luminous Mysteries (the Mysteries of Light), that focus on the public ministry of Jesus. The five Luminous Mysteries, to be prayed on Thursdays, are the following: (1) His Baptism in the Jordan (2) His self-manifestation at the wedding of Cana (3) His proclamation of the Kingdom of God, with His call to conversion (4) His Transfiguration (5) His institution of the Eucharist, as the sacramental expression of the Paschal Mystery. Father Charles Connor, pastor of St. Rose of Lima Church in Carbondale, Pa., elaborated on the Luminous Mysteries during the rally. He said the new mysteries give Catholics a greater opportunity to meditate on the good work of Christ’s life. “In order to bring out the fully Christological depth of the rosary it was suitable to make a change in the traditional pattern of the rosary,” Father Connor observed.

He asked people to meditate and contemplate on the splendor of the five Luminous Mysteries. “By meditation we mean to consider something thoughtfully, go step to step –– usually ending by a resolution. Contemplation is more in the nature of a simple steadfast gazing at the soul through God,” explained Father Connor. “Both allow us to grow with Christ and faith.” Organizers hoped those who attended the rally walked away with renewed emphasis on the rosary as a spiritual exercise that educates Catholics about the faith and helps them grow into a more intimate relationship with Christ. Mary Barton and Mary Armstrong, parishioners of Our Lady of Angels Church and coordinators of perpetual adoration, helped to organized the rally in an effort to foster devotion to the Blessed Mother. “The Blessed Mother has such a great love for us. She wants us to come to her with our joys and sorrows,” said Barton, who helps run the Nazareth Center, a lending library of religious materials. According to Barton, it is easy to pray to the Blessed Mother. “She is a mother,” Barton said. “It is easy to talk to a mother and bare our souls.” “She will always answer our prayers, although sometimes maybe not in the way we want,” added Armstrong.

With the year of the rosary coming to a close in October, the faithful across the world will continue to pray the rosary. The power of faith is great, but even greater is the power of prayer.

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