The rosary and the priesthood
THERE is a link between Mary and the ministerial priesthood which is not only devotional but, we could also say, essential. Through the annunciation Mary has conceived in her womb the Word of God, Jesus. He has given us Jesus through her “fiat”. In the Holy Eucharist, does not the priest realize the same reality? The priest, through the mass, gives to us the Body and Blood of Christ. It is as if were, he generates Christ, albeit sacramentally. Is this not the role of Mary, to give Christ? The priest necessarily is related to Mary theologically. As Peter Chrysologus said that Christ “is the bread that sowed in the Virgin, leavened in the flesh, kneaded in the Passion, baked in the oven of the sepulcher, kept in the Church, taken to the altars, gives the faithful heavenly food every day.” The divine wheat is her Son and the priests continues to give Him every time there is the “breaking of the bread”.
Moreover, the priest has to be first of all a disciple of Christ. Was not Mary, as has been presented by the Second Vatican Council, the perfect disciple, a model to who we could imitate and base our lives in order to become like Jesus? St. Louis M. Grignion De Montfort writes in “True Devotion to Mary”: “Take notice, if you please, that I say the saints are molded in Mary. There is a great difference,” continues Montfort, “between making a figure in relief by blows of hammer and chisel, and making a figure by throwing it into a mold. Statuaries and sculptors labor much to make figures in the first manner; but to make them in the second manner, they work little and do their work quickly.” And St. Augustine calls our Blessed Lady ‘the mold of God’—the mold fit to cast and mold gods. He who is cast in this mold is presently formed and molded in Jesus Christ. At a slight expense and in a short time he will become God, because he has been cast in the same mold which has formed a God.” Mary then is closely related to the priests, as disciples of Christ.
The Pope, two years ago wrote an encyclical Novo Millenio Inneunete. In that letter he invited us to a “high standard” of Christian life, to fix our eyes on the crucified and risen Lord, to believe in the love of God for every man and woman, for everyone, and to live the Church as the home and training ground of communion: where the law is loving one another as Christ loved us.
The new gift that John Paul II gave us October of last year, with the letter on the Rosary of the Virgin Mary, is in perfect continuity with the invitation and program of the Novo millennio ineunte. The Pope underlines this in the introduction of this latest letter. He says that it is “a complement” to the previous one. In order to fix our eyes on our Lord, it is not enough to learn what He taught but of learning him. And so “could we have any better teacher than Mary?” (n. 14). Because he says, “from the divine standpoint, the Holy Spirit is the interior teacher who leads us to the full truth of Christ. But among creatures, no one knows Christ better than Mary.” (ibid).
Here is, therefore, is the intimate relationship between the Rosary and the priesthood. Saying the Rosary—explains the Pope—puts us on this wavelength. The rosary is a pedagogy invented by Mary. It is her maternal love helping us to “learn” Jesus. Do we not meditate, in the mysteries of the rosary, the main events of his life? And do we not meditate them, impressing them on our mind and heart so as to “clothe ourselves” with his very own sentiments?
This prayer, which is so simple that it can be everyone’s prayer in all circumstances, affirms the Pope, “marks the rhythm of human life”, bringing it into harmony with the “rhythm” of God’s own life, in the joyful communion of the Holy Trinity” (n. 25). And he confesses: “The rosary is my favorite prayer” (n. 2). How much more for us priests who want to be the presence of Christ on earth? If the Pope invites all Christendom to do so, how much more those who are dedicated to the service to teaching others to be like Christ?
We could say that the Rosary that has grown from being a simple prayer to becoming a road to holiness, a road of discipleship, to the extent that it inserts us, by this art of praying, into the communion of the Holy Spirit, and directs our attention to the whole mystery of Christ and Mary. It helps us to have within ourselves constantly, with the strength of the word of God and the formulae of prayers in the Church, the same thoughts that were in Christ Jesus and were in the heart of the Mother. We are able to travel the way of Christ, the way of joy and light, of sorrow and of glory, in communion with the one who in the first place for herself and also for all of us has traveled the way of Christ. And she teaches us the way that is hers and ours, living her mysteries in the holy Rosary: the “Way of Mary”, Mary’s road.
As disciples, by praying the rosary we also bring Mary into the home of our hearts and in the living room of our souls. There she could teach us about He Son, our Lord. Like St. John the beloved disciple who was also a priest. She is the best teacher who could lead us towards Christ. Through praying the holy rosary, we could always be in the school of Mary.