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Column: Month of the rosary highlights versatile devotion

by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann

I was truly pleased by the 20,000 Catholics who came to Kauffman Stadium on May 25, the feast of Corpus Christi, for an afternoon of eucharistic adoration and the praying of the Global Living Rosary for peace. I believe that everyone who came to the stadium that afternoon felt God’s presence in a special way.

Jesus promised to be where two or three gather in his name, so we can only imagine the power of his presence when 20,000 gather in his name.

Repeatedly, throughout the many months of preparation for the gathering on May 25, I expressed my conviction that the most important fruit of our efforts was not to gather a large crowd of people for one day to adore our eucharistic Lord and pray the rosary. My real hope was that the event on May 25 would serve as a catalyst to motivate many people throughout the Archdiocese to pray the rosary daily — individually or as a family — and to inspire many people to pray regularly in the presence of our eucharistic Lord in one of our churches or in one of the many eucharistic adoration chapels in our parishes.

Bishop Robert Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and I want to do a joint Corpus Christi procession each year. This annual feast of the church, celebrating the gift of the Lord’s presence in the sacrament of his body and blood, is an ideal moment each year to strive to renew a love for the Eucharist manifested, in part, by eucharistic adoration. In 2009, the solemnity of Corpus Christi will be celebrated on Sunday, June 14. Please mark your calendars now and plan to participate in the Corpus Christi procession that afternoon.

This coming Tuesday, Oct. 7, is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. The entire month of October is a special month dedicated to fostering the frequent and devout praying of the rosary. I commend the many throughout the Archdiocese who pray the rosary daily and encourage you to continue. I am certain that you have found entrusting the cares of each day, through the intercession of Mary to Jesus, provides a peace and strength in your heart.

For those for whom the rosary is not part of your daily prayer life, I suggest that you pray the rosary during this month of October. I encourage, whenever possible, praying the rosary as a family.

It is so important for children to witness their parents praying. The rosary is a prayer in which every member of the family, no matter their age, is able to participate. With very young children, it may be prudent to start them off by just praying a decade of the rosary and gradually introduce them to praying a full five decades. Before starting the rosary, it is good to allow each member of the family to express particular intentions. Each decade can be dedicated to a particular intention or intentions.

During the rosary, we recite the Hail Mary 50 times, allowing the words of this simple prayer to be impressed upon our heart. The first half of the Hail Mary uses the words of the angel Gabriel and St. Elizabeth spoken to Mary as a means of contemplating the greatest miracle in human history — the Incarnation, God taking on our human flesh in the womb of Mary.

Pope John Paul II, in his 2002 apostolic letter — “On the Rosary of the Virgin Mary” — refers to the name of Jesus, concluding the first half of the Hail Mary, as the “center of gravity” for this powerful prayer. Pope John Paul II refers to a custom, previously highlighted by Pope Paul VI, of adding a phrase after the name of Jesus to focus attention on the particular mystery of the rosary. Personally, I have found this practice to be helpful in focusing my meditation on the moments in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus or on aspects of Mary’s unique role in God’s plan which are contained in each of the mysteries.

So, for example, for the first glorious mystery of the rosary — The Resurrection of Jesus — you might pray the Hail Mary as follows: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women and blest is the fruit of your womb, Jesus, who rose from the dead. “Holy Mary . . .”

The following are some of the phrases that I like to use for each of the glorious mysteries. Perhaps they will be helpful to you, or you may develop your own phrases that are much better. For most mysteries, I like to use three or more phrases that I rotate while praying each decade.

For the glorious mysteries, I use the following:

1)The Resurrection of Jesus:
a) Jesus, who rose from the dead
b) Jesus, who encouraged his disciples to be not afraid
c) Jesus, who consoled the apostles: “Peace is my gift to you.”

2) The Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven
a) Jesus, who ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of the Father
b) Jesus, who promised to be with his disciples until the end of time
c) Jesus, who commissioned the apostles to make disciples of all nations

3) The Descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles
a) Jesus, who sent the Holy Spirit upon the apostles at Pentecost
b) Jesus, who promised his disciples to send an Advocate
c) Jesus, who assured the apostles the Holy Spirit would provide them what they were to say

4) The Assumption of Mary into Heaven 
a) Jesus, who brought you, his mother, body and soul to heaven

5) Jesus Crowns Mary Queen of Heaven
a) Jesus, who crowned you, Queen of Heaven
b) Jesus, who gave you, his mother, also to be our mother
c) Jesus, who gave you to his disciples as the Mother of Perpetual Help
d) Jesus, who entrusted John, the other apostles and their successors to your care
e) Jesus, who gave you to our world as Queen of Peace

In next week’s column, I will provide the phrases I like to use for the joyful, sorrowful and the luminous mysteries as well as conclude this reflection on the Rosary. Until then, I urge all of you to pray the rosary daily and offer one decade or at least one Hail Mary for your archbishop!

About the author

Archbishop Joseph Naumann

Joseph F. Naumann is the archbishop for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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