The Rosary Prayer
The surpassing merit of the Rosary as seen in the prayers which compose it
The Creed or the Symbol of the Apostles, which is said on the crucifix of the rosary, is a holy summary of all the Christian truths. It is a prayer that has great merit, because faith is the root, foundation and beginning of all Christian virtues, of all eternal virtues, and of all prayers that are pleasing to God. "Anyone who comes to God must believe," and the greater his faith the more merit his prayer will have, the more powerful it will be, and the more it will glorify God.
The holy Rosary contains many mysteries of Jesus and Mary, and since faith is the only key which opens up these mysteries for us, we must begin the Rosary by saying the Creed very devoutly, and the stronger our faith the more merit our Rosary will have.
This faith must be lively and informed by charity; in other words, to recite the Rosary properly it is necessary to be in God's grace, or at least seeking it. This faith must be strong and constant, that is, one must not be looking for sensible devotion and spiritual consolation in the recitation of the Rosary; nor should one give it up because the mind is flooded with countless involuntary distractions, or because one experiences a strange distaste in the soul or an almost continual and oppressive fatigue of the body. Neither feelings, nor consolation, nor sighs, nor transports, nor the continual attention of the imagination are needed; faith and good intentions are quite enough.
The Our Father contains all the duties we owe to God, the acts of all the virtues and the petitions for all our spiritual and corporal needs. We should say the Our Father with the certitude that the eternal Father will hear us because it is the prayer of his Son, whom he always hears, and because we are his members. God will surely grant our petitions made through the Lord's Prayer because it is impossible to imagine that such a good Father could refuse a request couched in the language of so worthy a Son, reinforced by his merits, and made at his behest.
St. Augustine assures us that whenever we say the Our Father devoutly our venial sins are forgiven. The just man falls seven times, and in the Lord's Prayer he will find seven petitions which will both help him to avoid lapses and protect him from his spiritual enemies. Our Lord, knowing how weak and helpless we are, and how many difficulties we endure, made his prayer short and easy to say, so that if we say it devoutly and often, we can be sure that God will quickly come to our aid.
The Angelic Salutation, or Hail Mary, is so heavenly and so beyond us in its depth of meaning, that Blessed Alan de la Roche held that no mere creature could ever understand it, and that only our Lord Jesus Christ, born of the Virgin Mary, can really explain it.
By the Angelic Salutation God became man, a virgin became the Mother of God, the souls of the just were delivered from Limbo, the empty thrones in heaven have been filled, sin has been pardoned, grace been given to us, the sick been made well, the dead brought back to life, exiles brought home, the Blessed Trinity has been appeased, and men obtained eternal life. Finally, the Angelic Salutation is the rainbow in the sky, a sign of the mercy and grace which God has given to the world (Blessed Alan).
Although this new hymn is in praise of the Mother of God and is sung directly to her, it is nevertheless most glorious to the Blessed Trinity, for any honour we pay to our Lady returns inevitably to God, the source of all her perfections and virtues. God the Father is glorified when we honour the most perfect of his creatures; God the Son is glorified when we praise his most pure Mother; the Holy Spirit is glorified when we are lost in admiration at the graces with which he has filled his spouse. When we praise and bless our Lady by saying the Angelic Salutation, she always refers these praises to God in the same way as she did when she was praised by St. Elizabeth. The latter blessed her in her high dignity as Mother of God and our Lady immediately returned these praises to God in her beautiful Magnificat.
Just as the Angelic Salutation gave glory to the Blessed Trinity, it is also the very highest praise that we can give to Mary.
One day, when St. Mechtilde was praying and was trying to think of some way in which she could express her love of the Blessed Virgin better than before, she fell into ecstasy. Our Lady appeared to her with the Angelic Salutation written in letters of gold upon her breast and said to her, "My daughter, I want you to know that no one can please me more than by saying the greeting which the most adorable Trinity presented to me and by which I was raised to the dignity of the Mother of God. "By the word Ave, which is the name of Eve, Eva, I learned that God in his infinite power had preserved me from all sin and its attendant misery which the first woman had been subject to. "The name Mary, which means 'lady of light,' shows that God has filled me with wisdom and light, like a shining star, to light up heaven and earth. "The words, full of grace, remind me that the Holy Spirit has showered so many graces upon me that I am able to give these graces in abundance to those who ask for them through my mediation. "When people say, The Lord is with thee, they renew the indescribable joy that was mine when the eternal Word became incarnate in my womb. "When you say to me, Blessed art thou among women, I praise the mercy of God who has raised me to this exalted degree of happiness. "And at the words, Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus, the whole of heaven rejoices with me to see my Son Jesus adored and glorified for having saved mankind."
Brief explanation of the Hail Mary Rosary Prayer
Are you in the miserable state of sin? Then call on Mary and say to her, "Ave," which means "I greet thee with the most profound respect, thou who art without sin," and she will deliver you from the evil of your sins.
Are you in sorrow? Turn to Mary, for her name means also "Sea of Bitterness which has been filled with bitterness in this world but which is now turned into a sea of purest joy in heaven," and she will turn your sorrow into joy and your affliction into consolation.
Have you lost the state of grace? Praise and honour the numberless graces with which God has filled the Blessed Virgin and say to her, Thou art full of grace and filled with all the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and she will give you some of these graces.
Are you alone, having lost God's protection? Pray to Mary and say, The Lord is with thee, in a nobler and more intimate way than he is with the saints and the just, because thou art one with him. He is thy Son and his flesh is thy flesh; thou art united to the Lord because of thy perfect likeness to him and by your mutual love, for thou art his Mother. And then say to her, "The three persons of the Godhead are with thee because thou art the Temple of the Blessed Trinity," and she will place you once more under the protection and care of God.
Have you become an outcast and been accursed by God? Then say to our Lady, "Blessed art thou above all women and above all nations by thy purity and fertility; thou hast turned God's maledictions into blessings for us." She will bless you.
Do you hunger for the bread of grace and the bread of life? Draw near to her who bore the living Bread which came down from heaven, and say to her, "Blessed be the fruit of thy womb, whom thou hast conceived without the slightest loss to thy virginity, whom thou didst carry without discomfort and brought forth without pain. Blessed be Jesus who redeemed our suffering world when we were in the bondage of sin, who has healed the world of its sickness, who has raised the dead to life, brought home the banished, restored sinners to grace, and saved men from damnation. Without doubt, your soul will be filled with the bread of grace in this life and of eternal glory in the next. Amen."
Conclude your prayer with the Church and say, "Holy Mary," holy because of thy incomparable and eternal devotion to the service of God, holy in thy great rank as Mother of God, who has endowed thee with eminent holiness, in keeping with this great dignity.
"Mother of God, and our Mother, our Advocate and Mediatrix, Treasurer and dispenser of God's graces, obtain for us the prompt forgiveness of our sins and grant that we may be reconciled with the divine majesty.
"Pray for us sinners, thou who art always filled with compassion for those in need, who never despise sinners or turn them away, for without them you would never have been Mother of the Redeemer.
"Pray for us now, during this short life, so fraught with sorrow and uncertainty; now, because we can be sure of nothing except the present moment; now that we are surrounded and attacked night and day by powerful and ruthless enemies.
"And at the hour of our death, so terrible and full of danger, when our strength is waning and our spirits are sinking, and our souls and bodies are worn out with fear and pain; at the hour of our death when the devil is working with might and main to ensnare us and cast us into perdition; at that hour when our lot will be decided forever and ever, heaven or hell. Lead us to thy Son's judgment-seat and remain at our side. Intercede for us and ask thy Son to pardon us and receive us into the ranks of thy elect in the realms of everlasting glory. Amen."
No one could help admiring the excellence of the holy Rosary, made up as it is of these two divine parts: the Lord's Prayer and the Angelic Salutation. How could there be any prayers more pleasing to God and to the Blessed Virgin, or any that are easier, more precious, or more helpful than these two prayers? We should always have them in our hearts and on our lips to honour the most Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ our Saviour and his most holy Mother.
In addition, at the end of each decade it is good to add the Gloria Patri, that is: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.