Category Archives: Blessed Virgin Mary

On the Rosary

bvm-and-st-dominic-and-rosaryOctober is devoted to the Rosary. Yesterday was the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (Oct. 7th). So, to continue our thinking on the importance of the rosary in spiritual discipline, Pope Leo XIII writes the following to see the mind of the popes on this subject:

“Since, therefore, it is clearly evident that this form of prayer is particularly pleasing to the Blessed Virgin, and that it is especially suitable as a means of defense for the Church and all Christians, it is in no way wonderful that several others of Our Predecessors have made it their aim to favor and increase its spread by their high recommendations. Thus Urban IV testified that “every day the Rosary obtained fresh boon for Christianity.” Sixtus IV declared that this method of prayer “redounded to the honor of God and the Blessed Virgin, and was well suited to obviate impending dangers;” Leo X that “it was instituted to oppose pernicious heresiarchs and heresies;” while Julius III called it “the glory of the Church.” So also St. Pius V, that “with the spread of this devotion the meditations of the faithful have begun to be more inflamed, their prayers more fervent, and they have suddenly become different men; the darkness of heresy has been dissipated, and the light of Catholic faith has broken forth again.” Lastly Gregory XIII in his turn pronounced that “the Rosary had been instituted by St. Dominic to appease the anger of God and to implore the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary.””

Our Lady of the Rosary


“The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety , of which it can be said to be a compendium. It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb. With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love” (Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 1).


St. Josemaria Escriva said, “The Rosary is a prayer very pleasing to our Lady, which has been part of the life of Catholics for many centuries. At the same time, it is a meditation on the mysteries of the life of our Lord and his Mother.

“Therefore, I recommend it with all my heart, also as a prayer that can be done as a family, although you shouldn’t force your young children to pray it . . . if they want to join the others, fine; if not, let them be, and eventually they will come. It has to be something voluntary” (Notes, November 17, 1972).

Our Lady of Sorrows

lady-of-sorrowsStanding by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:25-27)

The day following the Exaltation of the Holy Cross is the feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows: the Holy Mother of God bearing the pain of her Sons death. The feast reminds us to act, like Mary, to stand by the Cross and to hold in adoration the Crucified Lord. This is the drama of the mystery of suffering. Mary says nothing. Love doesn’t always need words. To speak words would be barbarous. Silence is the best response.

In fact, Mary’s dramatic action is what the Gospel records: she ‘was standing by the Cross’. Standing by in silence ought to be our position, too, because we are called to go deeper in our relationship with the Lord in contemplating the height and depth of His agony. Going deeper is accessed in and by silence. Her gift on this feast is the example of contemplation.

Making sense of this feast we need to comprehend the extent and suffering of Our Lady viz. the depth of love between mother and son. Love, the concern for the destiny of another, is the key.

From experience we know that every person who suffers finds Mary always beside him or her. A Mother does not abandon her children, even less in time of suffering. Can you imagine a mother not being present at the beside of her sick daughter? Calvary is impossible to experience without grace; we need the presence of someone who knows what is entailed in being faithful to the path given to us to walk.

Mary, Mother of Sorrows, may I be a comfort for Jesus if He can look down from the Cross and find you, His Mother, and me, holding your hand, “standing by the Cross”.

Nativity of Mary

nativity-of-mary“By Your Nativity, O Most Pure Virgin, / Joachim and Anna are freed from the reproach/disgrace of barrenness; / Adam and Eve, from the corruption of death. / And we, your people, freed from subjection to sin, celebrate and sing to you: / The barren woman gives birth to the Theotokos, the nourisher of our life!”

(Byzantine Kontakion-hymn of the Nativity of the Theotokos)

The Liturgy for the great feast of the Nativity of Mary is full of theology that we can not walk away from, even if they are difficult theological concepts, like “corruption of death” and “subjection to (liabilty for) sin,” referring to our human state before Christ. The beauty of the poetry here to convey what we believe is stunning: the mention of Jesus Christ annulling our “curse” in another well-known hymn, the Troparion of the feast: “By annulling the curse He bestowed a blessing, by destroying death, He gave us eternal life.” What does it mean for us today?

A key to unlock the importance of this feast is understanding the generation before Mary: Saints Joachim and Anna. These two experienced in their life, in their experience, what the Kontakion above speaks of “disgrace of barrenness” or “chidlessness.” Consider what it means for a woman to experience the inability to conceive, or to experience the death of her infant child. What God did was to free Anna from the paralyzing “barrenness” of her body and give her an incomparable blessing –the gift of Life. With Joachim and Anna, God intervened in human history making it possible for them to “live” to their full potential by giving birth to Mary. Life makes all the difference.

The feast is, as St. Andrew of Crete describes it, “the beginning of feasts. It represents the first of the feasts against the Law and the shadows, yet also the entrance of those that lead to grace and truth.”

The Source of Life in His creative energies allows humans to be truly productive and truly human when it was impossible. So today we honor Mary, but we also honor her parents, Joachim and Anna, “the barren woman gives birth.” THE Good News here is that God the Father bestows the same blessing on the Church. As one theologian said, He continues to bless “an ever God-Bearing Church.”

Our Lady of Czestochowa

Mother of God and FrancisPrayer to Our Lady of Czestochowa

Our Lady of Czestochowa, Queen of Poland, pray for us Holy Mother of Czestochowa, you are full of grace, goodness and mercy. I consecrate to you all my thoughts, words and actions – my soul and body. I beseech your blessings and especially prayers for my salvation.

Today I consecrate myself to you, good Mother, totally – with body and soul amid joy and sufferings, to obtain for myself and others your blessings on this earth and eternal life in heaven. Amen

Our Lady of Czestochowa, Queen of Poland, pray for us.

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]
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