More on Rosarium Virginis Mariae


More on Rosarium Virginis Mariae

I have noted the tremendous splash I've been making in these shared reflections on the newest Apostolic Letter, so building on that profound success, I thought I would share some more. (That was a joke not a plea for responses--as I have intimated earlier, even if no one ever responded I would write what I write).

This letter seems so simple, lucid, and clear as almost to have some from another hand. But the limpid depth of thought, reflection, and true contemplation, and the intimacy and immediacy of the writing belie that conclusion.

While there are a great many things that I like about the letter, so many, in fact, that I may produce, eventually, an article by article commentary on it (although, you can all breathe now, I may not inflict it on you), one point I like best is about contemplation. Time and again throughout the letter, when the Holy Father refers to contemplation he focuses on the FACE of Christ.

from Rosarium Virginis Mariae His Holiness Pope John Paul II

(3) To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.

(9) The Gospel scene of Christ's transfiguration, in which the three Apostles Peter, James and John appear entranced by the beauty of the Redeemer, can be seen as an icon of Christian contemplation. To look upon the face of Christ, to recognize its mystery amid the daily events and sufferings of his human life, and then to grasp the divine splendor definitively revealed in the Risen Lord, seat in glory at the right had of the Father: this is the task of every follower of Christ and therefore the task of each one of us. In contemplating Christ's face we become open to receiving the mystery of Trinitarian life. . .

(10)The contemplation of Christ has an incomparable model in Mary. In a unique way the face of the Son belongs to Mary. . . . No one has ever devoted himself to the contemplation of the face of Christ as faithfully as Mary. . . . In the months that followed she began to sense his presence and to picture his features. When at last she gave birth to him in Bethlehem, her eyes were able to gaze tenderly on the face of her Son, as she "wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger." (Lk 2:7)

The contemplation of Christ's face is an important theme of the letter. And it provides a better focus for most of our rambling prayers and discursive meditations. I have meditated on Christ's mission, on his Death and Resurrection, on his Nativity, on his Sacred Heart, on his five wounds. I have meditated on the mysteries of the Rosary (more or less), but I haven't really thought much about his face. Now, contemplation is not thought, and I am certain the Holy Father is very deliberate in his choice of words. By these he is inviting us all into true contemplation. Not thinking about, not discursive meditation, but true rest in the presence of the Lord. Now, this may not be infused contemplation, but it is one of the many stepping stones on the journey. It is far easier simply to gaze at a face and remain in presence that it is to keep track of the sometimes wayward thoughts of a discursive meditation. We are invited to contemplate Christ's face, that is, make Him personal in our lives. In the same way that we gaze upon the face of someone we love dearly, trying to internalize the features and understand the depth of feeling, so we are called to do with Christ.

Looking upon Christ's face is one way to rest in the Lord. It is a beautiful way, because once we know the lines of that face we will begin to see it in all of the faces around us. Focusing on Christ's face forces us to gaze into the divine, and like ducklings, once that image is fixed and certain, there is a certain imprinting on the soul--we will both follow it and seek to become like it.

I don't know how many other treasure might be in store for me as I read this wonderful letter--but it is about the Rosary and about far more--it is a plan for living out the Year of the Rosary, and for living out our Christian vocations. I urge everyone to take the time to read this remarkably simple document and to pray about it as they plan how they will take advantage of the wonderful opportunity a Rosary year opens for us.

May you be blessed as I have been blessed in just this short time.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 18, 2002 7:47 AM.

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