At my First Holy Communion and my Confirmation I received a Rosary. On returning from a visit to Portugal my spouse presented me with a Rosary made of pearls (purchased in Fatima, the place of pilgrimage in Leiria, Portugal) , which is now draped over a beautiful relief of Our Lady given to me by my parents on the day I was Confirmed. On the wall opposite our bed ‘Our Lady of Grace‘ is framed in gold, one of the first pictures we bought from the repository of St. Patrick’s in Johannesburg, South Africa. I received another Rosary that was purchased in Rome, from a friend of the family. This Rosary has small cerise wooden beads that smell of roses, and every time I open the lid to it’s box, I am greeted by the soft perfume emanating from the beads. A very special gift indeed!. (this scent of roses is associated with Our Lady, as on some of the occasions when she has appeared, the scent of Roses prevailed.)
I love all these beautiful gifts not only for sentimental reasons but also because Our Lady provides me with a gateway to a different kind of intimacy with my Lord Jesus. When using these beads to meditate on Christ, I find myself being drawn into the life and times of Jesus, coloured by what I know about Him through the scripture readings of the day and by what I have learned and love about Him from past experience.
Pope John Paul II loved the Rosary so much that he wrote an Apostolic letter titled , ‘ROSARIUM VIRGINIS MARIAE’.
I include the introduction to his letter and invite you to spend some time reading more if it here.
1. The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God, is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness. It blends easily into the spiritual journey of the Christian life, which, after two thousand years, has lost none of the freshness of its beginnings and feels drawn by the Spirit of God to “set out into the deep” (duc in altum!) in order once more to proclaim, and even cry out, before the world that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour, “the way, and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6), “the goal of human history and the point on which the desires of history and civilization turn”.(1)
The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium.(2) It is an echo of the prayerof Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian peoplesits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer.