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Reflection for the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary

Given By
Sister Kathy Nolan, OP

Good morning and Happy Feast Day.

Today we celebrate the feast of our patroness, Our Lady of the Rosary. In 1869 when the convent at Second Street in New York City separated from Williamsburg, “the Second Street convent…became the foundation for the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary.”   In June of 1923, St. Joseph Province in Adrian, Michigan became the Congregation of the Most Holy Rosary and in 1907, Mother Camilla dedicated a new chapel, this chapel and she chose the name, Holy Rosary Chapel.  Later a Mission Chapter would be given the name, Holy Rosary.  No where could I find any specific reasons for choosing the name Most Holy Rosary for our Congregation or Holy Rosary for our chapel. But, no doubt, the Dominican devotion to the Rosary that dates back to the very foundation of the Order by St. Dominic in Prouille provides a strong basis for our devotion to our Lady of the Rosary.

We are all very familiar with the legend that Mary appeared to Dominic in a vision and instructed him to “preach the Rosary among the people as an antidote to heresy and sin.” Thus Dominic has become known as the one who has given us the Rosary. Another Dominican, Pope Pius V established the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on the anniversary of the naval victory won by the Christian fleet at Lepanto, October 7, 1571. The victory was attributed to the help of the holy Mother of God whose aid was invoked through praying the rosary. 

So today we celebrate a gift given to the Church through Dominic that invites all to meditate upon the mysteries of Christ, following the example of the Blessed Virgin Mary who was so singularly associated with the incarnation, passion, and resurrection of the Son of God. The Rosary engages our thoughts, our imaginations, our emotions and our desires. It is a contemplative and Christocentric prayer inseparable from the meditation of Sacred Scripture.

From the beginning, the Rosary has been associated with prayers for peace just as Mary has also been associated with prayers for peace. At Fatima Mary instructed the three children as she had instructed Dominic, to pray the Rosary to bring an end to communism, the heresy and sin of the modern day. Pope Benedict XVI wrote: “the rosary when it is prayed in an authentic way, not mechanical and superficial but profoundly, brings, in fact, peace and reconciliation….”

Father Vincent de Cousnongle, Master of the Order from 1974 to 1983 shared his awareness of the rich doctrinal base of the Rosary when he wrote: “Marian devotion has at times been accused of being more fervent than enlightened. However, we have moved from a view of the Rosary that is Christological and centered on the Incarnation and Pascal Mystery. Here Mary has her rightful place as servant of the Lord and spiritual mother to the disciples.”

As Dominicans we know that the principal mission of our Order is bringing about salvation through the holy preaching of the gospel. The Rosary in the hands of the Order of Preachers is a means toward that end. The eloquent Dominican preacher, Père Lacordaire spoke of the Rosary as the “Gospel on its knees.”   Michael Cardinal Browne, the Irish Dominican, would say, “the Order has two treasures of wisdom: the Summa of St. Thomas Aquinas and the Rosary of St. Dominic.

Another Dominican whose name is not known describes the Rosary as “more a method of preaching than of praying.” What is meant by this is that the vocal prayers of the Rosary are either directly from scripture or based on scripture. The mysteries are the preacher’s handbook of the faith, containing all that is needed for proclaiming the Gospel.

In this month of October, a month dedicated to Our Lady of the Rosary, let us consider this beautiful prayer of the Rosary as a means that we too can use in order to draw closer to Jesus and Mary by meditating on the great mysteries of our salvation. Let us also pray the Rosary as a prayer for peace and also a prayer that enables us to embrace with Mary and Jesus, the poor, the oppressed and all who are suffering in our world.