The feast of the Holy Rosary was established by Saint Pius V on the anniversary of the naval victory won by the Christian fleet at Lepanto, October 7, 1571. The victory was attributed to the help of the holy Mother of God whose aid was invoked through praying the Rosary.
The celebration of this day invites all to mediate upon the mysteries of Christ, following the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary who was so singularly associated with the incarnation, passion and glorious resurrection of the Son of God. From the Christian Prayer(Liturgy of the Hours)
Lord, fill our hearts with your love,
and as you revealed to us by an angel the coming of your Son as man,
so lead us through his suffering and death to the glory of his resurrection,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
First Reading: Acts of the Apostles 1:12-14
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day's journey away; and when they had entered, they went up to the upper room, where they were staying, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James. All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.
Gospel Reading: Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end." And Mary said to the angel, "How shall this be, since I have no husband?" And the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.
RECITATION OF THE HOLY ROSARY
MEDITATION OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Pontifical Shrine of Pompeii
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear men and women religious,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Before entering the Shrine to recite the Holy Rosary with you, I paused briefly before the tomb of Bl. Bartolo Longo and, praying, I asked myself: "Where did this great apostle of Mary find the energy and perseverance he needed to bring such an impressive work, now known across the world, to completion? Was it not in the Rosary, which he accepted as a true gift from Our Lady's Heart?" Yes, that truly was how it happened! The experience of the Saints bears witness to it: this popular Marian prayer is a precious spiritual means to grow in intimacy with Jesus, and to learn at the school of the Blessed Virgin always to fulfil the divine will. It is contemplation of the mysteries of Christ in spiritual union with Mary as the Servant of God Paul VI stressed in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus (n. 46) and as my venerable Predecessor John Paul II abundantly illustrated in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae that today I once again present in spirit to the Community of Pompeii and to each one of you. You who live and work here in Pompeii, especially you, dear priests, men and women religious and lay people involved in this unique portion of the Church, are all called to make Bl. Bartolo Longo's charism your own and to become, to the extent and in the way that God grants to each one, authentic apostles of the Rosary.
To be apostles of the Rosary, however, it is necessary to experience personally the beauty and depth of this prayer which is simple and accessible to everyone. It is first of all necessary to let the Blessed Virgin take one by the hand to contemplate the Face of Christ: a joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious Face. Those who, like Mary and with her, cherish and ponder the mysteries of Jesus assiduously, increasingly assimilate his sentiments and are conformed to him. In this regard, I would like to quote a beautiful thought of Bl. Bartolo Longo: "Just as two friends, frequently in each other's company, tend to develop similar habits", he wrote, "so too, by holding familiar converse with Jesus and the Blessed Virgin, by meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary and by living the same life in Holy Communion, we can become, to the extent of our lowliness, similar to them and can learn from these supreme models a life of humility, poverty, hiddenness, patience and perfection" (I Quindici Sabati del Santissimo Rosario, 27th edition, Pompeii, 1916, p. 27: cited in Rosarium Virginis Mariae, n. 15).
The Rosary is a school of contemplation and silence. At first glance, it could seem a prayer that accumulates words, therefore difficult to reconcile with the silence that is rightly recommended for meditation and contemplation. In fact, this cadent repetition of the Hail Mary does not disturb inner silence but indeed both demands and nourishes it. Similarly to what happens for the Psalms when one prays the Liturgy of the Hours, the silence surfaces through the words and sentences, not as emptiness, but rather as the presence of an ultimate meaning that transcends the words themselves and through them speaks to the heart. Thus, in reciting the Hail Mary, we must be careful that our voices do not "cover" the voice of God who always speaks through the silence like the "still small voice" of a gentle breeze (1 Kgs 19: 12). Then how important it is to foster this silence full of God, both in one's personal recitation and in its recitation with the community! Even when the Rosary is prayed, as today, by great assemblies, and as you do in this Shrine every day, it must be perceived as a contemplative prayer. And this cannot happen without an atmosphere of inner silence.
I would like to add a further reflection concerning the Word of God in the Rosary, particularly appropriate in this period in which the Synod of Bishops is taking place on the theme: "The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church". If Christian contemplation cannot leave the Word of God out of consideration, if it is to be a contemplative prayer, the Rosary must always emerge from the silence of the heart as a response to the Word, after the model of Mary's prayer. Seen clearly, the Rosary is completely interwoven with scriptural elements. First of all there is the enunciation of the mystery, preferably made, as it has been today, with words taken from the Bible. The Our Father follows; by giving the prayer a "vertical" orientation, the soul of who recites the rosary is opened to the correct filial attitude in accordance with the Lord's invitation: "When you pray say: Father..." (Lk 11: 2). The first part of the Hail Mary, also taken from the Gospel, lets us listen again each time to the words that God addressed to the Virgin through the Angel and to the words of her cousin Elizabeth's blessing. The second part of the Hail Mary resounds like the answer of children who, in addressing supplications to their Mother, do nothing other than express their own adherence to the saving plan revealed by God. Thus the thought of those who pray remains ever anchored to Scripture and to the mysteries presented in it.
Lastly, remembering that today we are celebrating World Mission Sunday, I wish to recall the apostolic dimension of the Rosary, a dimension that Blessed Bartolo Longo lived intensely, drawing inspiration from it to carry out on this earth so many charitable initiatives and works of human and social promotion. Furthermore, he wanted this Shrine to be open to the whole world as a centre of outreach of the prayer of the Rosary and as a place of intercession for peace among peoples. Dear friends, I would like to reinforce both of these aims: the apostolate of charity and prayer for peace, and I wish to confirm and entrust them once again to your spiritual and pastoral commitment. Following the example and with the support of the venerable Founder, never tire of working with enthusiasm in this part of the Lord's vineyard for which Our Lady has shown a special fondness.
Dear brothers and sisters, the time has come to take my leave of you and of this beautiful Shrine. I thank you for your warm welcome and especially for your prayers. I thank the Archbishop Prelate and Pontifical Delegate, his collaborators and those who worked to prepare my Visit in the best possible way. I must leave you, but my heart remains close to this region and to this community. I entrust you all to the Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary and I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to each one.
© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pope John Paul II asks us to pray the Rosary
(October 16, 2002), Pope John Paul II issued Rosarium Virginis Mariae - Apostolic Letter on Rosary of the Virgin Mary. He declared October 2002 October 2003 The Year of the Rosary, and added Mysteries of Light that focus on events of Christ's ministry.
On September 30, 2001, after the morning Mass opening the Synod of Bishops, Pope John Paul II asked people to pray the Rosary. Here is his message:
"October is the month in which Mary Most Holy, Queen of the Holy Rosary, is venerated. Within the current international context, I invite all -- individuals, families, communities -- to pray this Marian prayer, possibly every day, for peace, so that the world can be preserved from the wicked scourge of terrorism.
"The terrible tragedy of September 11th will be remembered as a dark day in the history of humanity. In the face of this, the Church tries to be faithful to her prophetic charism and remind all men about their duty to build a future of peace for the human family. Certainly, peace is not separated from justice, but it must be nourished by mercy and love.
"We cannot forget that Jews, Christians and Muslims adore God as the only God. The three religions, therefore, have the vocation of unity and peace. May God allow the Church's faithful to be agents of peace, in the front line of the search for justice and the prohibition of violence.
"May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, intercede for all humanity, so that hate and death never have the last word!"
On September 29, 2002, Pope John Paul II ask that we pray the Rosary for Peace:
JOHN PAUL II
Sunday, 29 June 2002
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. We are already on the threshold of the month of October, which, with the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, inspires us to rediscover this traditional prayer, so simple yet so profound.
The Rosary is a way of contemplating the face of Christ seeing him - we may say - with the eyes of Mary. For this reason, it is a prayer that drawing upon the core of the Gospel is in full accord with the inspiration of the Second Vatican Council and very much in keeping with the direction I gave in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte: the Church has to launch out "into the deep" in the new millennium beginning with the contemplation of the face of Christ.
Therefore, I wish to suggest the recitation of the Rosary to individuals, families and Christian communities. To give force to this invitation, I am preparing a document which will help to rediscover the beauty and depth of this prayer.
2. I wish once again to entrust the great cause of peace to the praying of the Rosary. We are facing an international situation that is full of tensions, at times threatening to explode. In some parts of the world, where the confrontation is harsher - I think particularly of the suffering land of Christ - we can realize that, even though they are necessary, political efforts are worth little if one remains exacerbated in his mind and no one cares to demonstrate a new disposition of heart in the hope of reviving the struggle and effort of dialogue.
Who but God alone can infuse such sentiments? It is more necessary than ever that from every part of the earth prayer for peace be made to Him. In this perspective, the Rosary turns out to be the form of prayer most needed. It builds peace because, while it appeals to the grace of God, it sows in the one praying it the seed of good from which we can expect the fruit of justice and solidarity for personal and community life.
I am thinking of nations and also of families. How much peace would flow into family relationships if the family would begin again to pray the Rosary.
John Paul II greeted the pilgrims in French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and Italian.
To the English-speaking
3. I extend a warm greeting to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, and invite you to make the month of October a time of special attention to the recitation of the Rosary, the great prayer of intercession to Mary. Upon you and your families I invoke the joy and peace of the Lord.
4. The prayer we are about to pray begins by recalling the annunciation of the Archangel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary. In fact, today is the feast of the holy Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. May these powerful ministers of God obtain for us the grace to correspond always with generous love to his will.
Dear Friends, this is the last Angelus of the vacation period. With affection, I greet once again the townsfolk of Castel Gandolfo: Goodbye until next year. Next Sunday, 6 October, God willing, we shall be in St Peter's Square.