Posted September 2, 2005
The Need for the Rosary in our Times
Taken from The Rosary of Our Lady
by Romano Guardini
[This book is referenced elsewhere on our website]
To linger in the domain of Mary is a divinely great thing. One does not ask about the utility of truly noble things, because they have their meaning within themselves. So it is of infinite meaning to draw a deep breath of this purity, to be secure in the peace of this union with God.
With this we come back to what we said in the beginning. Man needs a place of holy tranquillity that the breath of God pervades and where he meets the great figures of the Faith. This place is the inaccessibility of God Himself, which only Christ opens to man.
All prayer begins by man becoming silent – recollecting his scattered thoughts, feeling remorse at his trespasses, and directing his thoughts toward God. If man does all this, this place is thrown open, not only as a domain of spiritual tranquility and mental concentration, but as something that comes from God.
We are always in need of this place, especially when the convulsions of the times make clear something that has always existed but which is sometimes hidden by outward well-being and a prevailing peace of mind: namely, the homelessness of our lives. In such times, a great courage is demanded from us: not only a readiness to dispense with more and to accomplish more than usual, but to persevere in a vacuum we do not otherwise notice. So we require more than ever this place of which we speak, not to creep into a hiding place, but as a place to find the core of things, to become calm and confident once more.
For this reason the Rosary is so important in times likes ours — assuming, of course, that all slackness and exaggeration are done away with, and that it is used in its clear and original forcefulness. This is all the more important because the Rosary does not require any special preparation, and the petitioner does not need to generate thoughts of which he is not capable at the moment or at any other time. Rather, he steps into a well-ordered world, meets familiar images, and finds roads that lead him to the essential.
The Rosary has the character of a sojourn. Its essence is the sheltering security of a quiet, holy world that envelops the person who is praying. This is particularly evident when we compare it with the Stations of the Cross, which have the character of a journey. The worshiper follows the Master from one station to another, and feels at the end that he has reached his goal. The Rosary is not a road, but a place, and it has no goal but a depth. To linger in it has great compensations.
Into this place the worshiper may carry all his petitions. The second part of the Hail Mary is a request, and he may fill it with his fondest wishes. The Mother of our Lord is not a goddess who lives far above men in all her splendor and has no care for them. What happened to her happened for humanity’s sake. He who was her Child is our Redeemer. She is one of us, even if she met our common destiny in a way that is her very own.
The Christian heart has always known Mary as the essence of compassion and love, to whom men can turn with particular and unreserved confidence. This is expressed so well by the intimate name that was given her from the beginning: the name of mother. When Christian hearts begin to beat, they know that Mary is theirs because she is the mother of Christ. The same maternal mystery in her surrounds Christ, “the firstborn among many brethren,” and us. Christians have at all times carried their petitions to Mary with the conviction that they were doing right.
There is something stupendous in the profusion of human petitions that find expression in the Hail Mary: that she may intercede for us “now and at the hour of our death.” There is no naming of details. Every human need is included, and we all employ the same words to portray our misery.
Only at two instants can we grasp this human need, instants that are decisive in our lives. The one is the “now,” the hour in which we have to fulfill the will of God, to choose between good and evil, and so decide the course of our eternal destiny. The other one is “the hour of our death,” which terminates our life, giving to all deeds and past happenings the character that will count for them in eternity.
To this we must add something else. To say the Rosary correctly is no easy, and I must ask the reader not to dwell on single words but to strive to find their right meaning.
The Apostle Paul speaks in his letters again and again of an ultimate mystery of Christian existence: namely, that Christ dwells “in us.” It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me,”he says in his message to the Galatians. He exhorts us to be faithful and vigilant, “until Christ is formed in you.” He sees the significance of Christian growth in “the deep knowledge of the Son of God, to perfect manhood, to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ,” and in “becoming conformed to the image of His Son, that He should be the firstborn among many brethren.
This, in the first place, is an expression of the unity of faith and the communion of grace, just as one may say of a person that a venerated model lives in him. But there is more significance to this, more from a human standpoint: namely, a communion that surpasses the joint indwelling of grace and mercy, of conviction and loyal allegiance; a participation in the reality of Christ that cannot be felt deeply enough. There is more significance also in the eyes of God; and we only rightly value the meaning of these words if we seek to understand what they mean to God.