Based on the format suggested by Pope John Paul II in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae ("The Rosary of the Virgin Mary").
To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ. -- Pope John Paul II (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, No. 3)
The Rosary: Way of Christian Contemplation
When Pope John Paul II released his apostolic letter on the Rosary in October 2002, he made news because in it he proposed the addition of a new set of mysteries, the Luminous or Mysteries of Light, to the traditional Joyful, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries of the Rosary. But the Holy Father did much more than this in his letter: he also called for a renewal of this devotion, which he described as the “most effective means” of fostering contemplation on the mystery of Christ.
At the heart of the Rosary prayer is the meditation of the mysteries of our salvation wrought by Christ our Lord. The repetitive praying of Hail Marys accompanies our requests that the Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for us so that we might be formed into perfect disciples of her Son. The Pope says, “ To look upon the face of Christ, to recognize its mystery amid the daily events and the sufferings of his human life, and then to grasp the divine splendor definitively revealed in the Risen Lord, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father: this is the task of every follower of Christ and therefore the task of each one of us,” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, no. 9)
This small book is fashioned after the manner in which the Holy Father presented the praying of the Rosary in his apostolic letter. May the Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for you with her Son as you use it as an aid in praying the Holy Rosary.
Mary: The Model of Contemplation
In his apostolic letter, John Paul II wrote that the most important reason to encourage the practice of the Rosary is that it fosters a “commitment to the contemplation of the Christian mystery” in all of its richness. Our model of contemplation, the Pope says, is Mary. In the way that any mother would look upon the face of her child, Mary as the mother of Jesus is the perfect model for our approach to contemplation of the face of Christ.
The Gospels show that the gaze of Mary varied depending upon the circumstances of life. So it will be with us. Each time we pick up the holy beads to recite the Rosary, our gaze at the mystery of Christ will differ depending on where we find ourselves at that moment.
Thereafter Mary’s gaze, ever filled with adoration and wonder, would never leave him. At times it would be a questioning look, as in the episode of the finding in the Temple: “Son, why have you treated us so?” (Lk 2:48); it would always be a penetrating gaze, one capable of deeply understanding Jesus, even to the point of perceiving his hidden feelings and anticipating his decisions, as at Cana (cf. Jn 2:5). At other times it would be a look of sorrow, especially beneath the Cross, where her vision would still be that of mother giving birth, for Mary not only shared the passion and death of her Son, she also received the new son given to her in the beloved disciple (cf. Jn 19:26-27). On the morning of Easter hers would be a gaze radiant with the joy of the Resurrection, and finally, on the day of Pentecost, a gaze afire with the outpouring of the Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14) [Rosarium Virginis Mariae, no. 10].
As we pray the Rosary, then, we join with Mary in contemplating Christ. With her, we remember Christ, we proclaim Him, we learn from Him, and, most importantly, as we raise our voices in prayer and our hearts in contemplation of the holy mysteries, this “compendium of the Gospel” itself, we are conformed to Him.
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