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Imitate what they contain

Imitate what they contain

Here is the Rosary’s concluding prayer:

O God, whose only begotten Son, by His life, death, and resurrection, has purchased for us the rewards of eternal life, grant, we beseech Thee, that meditating upon these mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise, through the same Christ Our Lord.

That phrase, ‘imitate what they contain‘ seems to imply the need for a little prayerful reflection on the truths contained in each mystery, doesn’t it?  You may think that the Rosary is a complicated enough feat of multi-tasking as it stands without adding another layer to the prayer, but wait!  It’s not only possible, but you’re already well experienced in the art of using scripture passages, meditating on them and praying with them, for this is exactly what you do when you pray the Stations of the Cross.

Take for example, the Fourth station: Mary presumably had been seeking Jesus ever since she heard of his arrest.  We can imagine her trying to make her way through the crowds, maybe following the arm of the cross as she sees it moving above the heads in the crowd.  We can imagine her distress as it disappears from view as he falls the first time, and then her anguish as she eventually meets her beloved son.  We consider the selfless love of each one for the other.  Jesus – while longing to let her know that this would not be the end – gives her his blessing and strengthens her for what was to come; and Mary even here does not lose hope but shows her maternal compassion towards her son.  Then the soldiers chivvy Jesus along and he is gone.  The crowds engulf Mary once more and she follows as best she can to Calvary.

We look to emulate the selfless, compassionate love of Son and mother; and we pray that we might hope and trust in God as Mary did.  We pray with contrition for times when we have lacked compassion and that henceforth we might always be sensitive to others’ needs, putting them before our own.

In the context of the Stations of the Cross, this way of praying is very familiar yet not formulaic (unless you’re St Alphonsus or you’re using a book).  Here, then, is a way of praying – a transferable skill, if you like – that we can use when praying the Rosary… so let’s see if we can apply that style of prayer to the second Joyful mystery, The Visitation.

Again, Mary is seeking.  This time she seeks Elizabeth, who has conceived a son in her advanced years, for nothing is impossible for God.  Imagine Mary, who has just received that enormous news from the Angel, putting Elizabeth’s needs before her own and setting out on that not-inconsiderable journey (taking perhaps the best part of a week) to be with her cousin.  As she journeys, imagine her heart singing with joy (not worrying, not grumbling) as she reflects upon the marvels the Almighty has worked for her.  And then they meet and the first Christian community is formed, for those souls (including John the Baptist) are united by the presence – in Mary’s womb – of the Incarnate Word.  Elizabeth – whose husband has been rather quiet around the house for six months now, remember – does not immediately tell Mary her own remarkable news but proclaims that immortal greeting, ‘Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!‘   The two expectant mothers share their joy at each other’s news but neither is self-seeking.  We see both women placing their hope and trust in God despite not knowing much at all about how their futures would unfold.

And so, having meditated on this mystery, we pray that we might imitate what it contains:  We pray for such unwavering hope and certain trust.  We pray that we might accept God’s will in all things.  We pray that we might work selflessly and joyfully for our neighbour’s good, remembering contrition for times when we have failed.  We pray that we will always recognise the presence of Christ in others.

There.  It’s not complicated.  Yes, it takes a little time, but we needn’t say the whole Rosary in one go.  Just putting aside a little time to say one decade well may be time better spent than five hurried decades.

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