CALL ME A late bloomer. Rereading Ate Myla’s “33 Days to Morning Glory,” which I purposefully haven’t returned (for I intend to milk the book of its sacred juices), I came across a recommendation from its author, Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC, to read St. John Paul II’s letter on the Holy Rosary. I take holy advice seriously and my obedience has never failed to produce enriching, favorable results.
The speaker was Dr. Luke Eridando, Director of Faith Formation at the St. Philip Institute of Catechesis and Evangelization in the Diocese of Tyler, Texas. After a proper prayer, he went straight to the heart of his subject, the Pope’s encyclical in Latin, which has a blue book version in English entitled “On the Most Holy Rosary.”
This was in 2002. The same year that the Pope instituted the Luminous Mysteries.
Dr. Luke said Pope John Paul lost his mother and a brother at a young age. His prayerful father’s life was his seminary. On the rosary, he had this to say, “The rosary is my favorite prayer because of its simplicity and depth; it marks the rhythm of human life.”
Further on, he describes it as “the school of Mary, who is always contemplating the face of Christ, encountering (and meditating on) His mysteries, which sustain our liturgical life.” He disagrees that it is a mindless, mechanical repetition because it is love being said over and over again from the heart. (I recall one of Fr. Jigs’ homilies likening it to breathing.) It is a loving conversation with two triune holinesses (how I understood his meaning), the Trinity and the Family, where Jesus is both present.
For the easily distracted when praying, he suggested creating or relating to a scenario for God to speak back to our prayer. (Once I’ve tried connecting the mysteries to my personal circumstances. They helped a little but didn’t prosper. I applied the Pope’s tip by relating each mystery to the recent episodes of “The Chosen.” Worked like a charm! Moral: personal is fine as long as it is sprinkled with a spiritual smidgen.
I’m a believer. And my belief emanates from my gut. “The Chosen” has become a favorite because of the show’s faithful depiction of the life of Christ. Which never fails to explicitly hit where it exquisitely hurts. On top of that, Dallas Jenkins, a Christian, directs (he is one of the three writers, too) the series like a Catholic who believes and reveres Mary. His biblical characters do not preach, they simply act out their roles in a matter-of-fact manner backed up by believable insight and thorough research, you feel like you are transported back to their time and reliving it with them. Each episode hammers home an increase in faith and lingers long enough for the viewer to anticipate the next increment. I’m both fan and follower for the impact it has made on my spirituality.
But back to St. John Paul’s rosary. Relating the series to his fealty to Mary, I wasn’t alive when she was chosen to be Christ’s carrier. Yet I’m blessed to have known them and, even if I didn’t live with them, they accepted and adopted me and made me part of their family and lives. This year ushered St. Joseph and made them, my faith folks, complete. The rosary recalls nightly this blessed beauty – and bounty – of my life with them. The world stops to let me linger, for less than an hour, with their loving, otherworldly company. To say I’m devoted to them is unfair. They personify my undying hope that, in God’s time and order of things, my earthly family will have a share of sanctity. I’ve always maintained that miracles happen daily. It’s only either we’re too preoccupied to notice them or we take them for granted. They happened to me already so I’m patiently letting God decide on when His will is going to amaze me.
The recent season 2 episode 6 “Unlawful” left me reliving two unforgettable scenes. One was where, utterly embarrassed (because she backslid), Mary Magdalene was persuaded by Mary (instinctively providing her with a proper veil) to face up to her Son. Magdalene’s scant speech was able to mutter “I don’t know what to say.” Jesus, as mild as ever, smiled with, “I don’t require much.” Because she hid her face further, Jesus encouraged her with, “Look up.” What followed was a heart-tugger.
At the end of the premiere, Director Dallas briefly acknowledged the applause of his live audience and quickly recalled that scene and called what Jesus said as the Gospel.
Similarly, Saint John Paul II left me with these indelible, incredible powers of the rosary. With it, he said, we can change the world, obtain our wishes, intercede for others, get closer to our family, promote life, bless the children, and see Him more clearly and dearly in others. And oh how these powers surround me where there used to be only myself.
At 73, I was able to realize, thanks to the loving memory of the Pope, that there is no need to hurry to get my boarding pass. Why should I? When it is all too easy and holy to just look up. And the Gospel hastens back to me.