The Month of Mary

As a child our family would sometimes stay with my uncle and aunt in County Cork, Ireland. Every evening, after supper, we would all kneel down facing a little altar on the wall and say the Rosary together. My abiding memory is being distracted by their pet rabbit as it hopped between our legs.

This week sees the beginning of the month of May. May is traditionally known as the month of Mary. It is a good time to think about the Rosary. The Vatican document on Popular Piety says of the Rosary,

“The Rosary, or Psalter of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is one of the most excellent prayers to the Mother of God. Thus, “the Roman Pontiffs have repeatedly exhorted the faithful to the frequent recitation of this Biblically inspired prayer which is centred on contemplation of the salvific events of Christ’s life, and their close association with his Virgin Mother.”

It goes on to state,

“The Rosary is essentially a contemplative prayer, which requires “tranquillity of rhythm or even a mental lingering which encourages the faithful to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord’s life”. An Anglican priest, Robert Llewelyn, wrote a popular book on the Rosary entitled, “A Doorway to Silence: A Contemplative use of the Rosary”. In his preface he quotes a Dominican priest, Gabriel Harty, who says that those who say the Rosary have gone beyond the stage of meditation and entered the restful state of contemplative prayer. He writes, “the Rosary has been for many a way in to silent prayer. The silence of the heart before God is the essence of the prayer life.”

Robert Llewelyn’s advice about saying the Rosary is,

“to say it plainly and simply as an offering to God without introspective glances to enquire whether what we are doing is meaningful or not”. The practise of saying the Rosary is in itself (or readily lends itself to become) a contemplative activity, the silence beyond for those called to it, being simply a deepening of what has gone before, opening ourselves yet more fully to the impact of the truth which is in Jesus. I have sometimes come across those who have been so enthusiastic about the beauty and value of the Rosary that they suggest it is the best and only way of praying and the only way to holiness. The Vatican document says, “It is also important to avoid inculcating a sense of guilt in those who do not habitually recite the Rosary: “The Rosary is an excellent prayer, in regard to which, however, the faithful should feel free to recite it, in virtue of its inherent beauty”.

Canon Father Anthony Charlton
Canon Father Anthony CharltonParish Priest