The Rosary is primarily a scriptural prayer. This can be summarised by the traditional phrase used by Pope Pius XII (papacy: 1939-1958) that the Rosary is “a compendium of the entire Gospel”. The Rosary draws its mysteries from the New Testament and is centred on the great events of the Incarnation and Redemption.
As Catholics we have known from the time we were young that the month of October each year is dedicated to the Most Holy Rosary.
This is primarily because of the fact that the liturgical feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated annually on October 7, which was instituted in answer to the praying of the Rosary by the faithful in order to honour the Blessed Virgin Mary, in gratitude for the protection that she gives the Church.
We remember, also, that Jesus gave Mary to us as our mother, as Mother of the Church.
Mother of the Church is a title officially given to Mary during the Second Vatican Council by Pope Paul VI, although the title had been used at different times throughout our history.
Pope John Paul II stated that, overall, the title indicates the Blessed Virgin Mary’s maternity of Christ’s faithful, as deriving from her maternity of Christ in that “Mary is present in the Church as the Mother of Christ and, at the same time, as that Mother whom Christ, in the mystery of the Redemption, gave to humanity in the person of the Apostle, John.
Thus, in her new motherhood in the Spirit, Mary embraces each and every one in the Church and embraces each and every one through the Church.”
During this month of the Holy Rosary, I draw upon this particular title for Our Lady, as on October 4th, we celebrate also the feast of St Francis of Assisi, who was charged with rebuilding the Church in his time.
As the young Francis knelt in a small church, looking up at the crucifix with its lamp burning before it, he seemed to hear the Lord speaking to him from the cross: “Go and rebuild my Church, for it is falling into ruins.”
Francis was a simple young man. As he looked around him at the ruined church in which he found himself, he decided that the Lord was calling him to repair the building which he immediately set out to do.
Years later, long after he had come to understand much more clearly what the Lord was asking of him, he realised that the Church herself was beginning to crumble and was in urgent need of renewal.
Nine hundred years later our new Pope, Francis, has invited us to recall again the story of St Francis of Assisi. In doing so we might be inclined to see ourselves, our Church today, in a similar situation to that facing the young Francis of Assisi.
Certainly, in the crowd gathered in St Peter’s Square for Pope Francis’ Mass of Installation, there were many banners held high carrying the same words St Francis heard in San Damiano’s small church: Go and rebuild my Church.
Pope Francis intends to follow the Lord’s mandate given to St. Francis of Assisi to go and rebuild his Church. To rebuild, to repair and to restore the beauty of the Church will be a slow and arduous task.
As Catholics, committed to our Church, we too must all hear the Lord say to us, “Go and rebuild my Church, for it is in need of repair”.
If the Church is to be rebuilt, then every Christian must do his or her part, and our part as laity, priests and bishop is to keep alive our Church, by what we do and by who we are; the living presence of Christ.
This is a daunting and demanding challenge. Responding to it is beyond us, if we look only to ourselves or even to each other. Only Christ, through the gift of his Spirit, can enable us to do and be what otherwise we can never hope to do and to be.
So as we commence the month of October, I invite all in our Diocese of Sandhurst to consider this beautiful prayer of the Rosary and how we can best regenerate the love and use of this prayer.
Please join with me in this month of October to celebrate this beautiful prayer by praying the Rosary and incorporating this prayer into our daily lives, but also through the Rosary asking our Blessed Mother to intercede for us, as we work to build up our Church in 2013 and beyond.
I make this heart-felt plea to every one of us whether we are lay people, religious, deacons, priests or bishop. Let us make our prayer to our Lady of the Rosary to intercede for us as Mother of the Church and our blessed mother, as we work with Pope Francis, doing our part to rebuild the Church. Let us, as Saint Francis did, commit ourselves to playing our part in the rebuilding of the Lord’s Church.
Let us renew our commitment to each other, to our Diocese of Sandhurst and to our communion with Pope Francis, the successor of St Peter and, most of all, of course, to the Christ who is our Way, our Truth and our Life.
- Bishop Les Tomlinson, Catholic Diocese of Sandhurst, October 2013