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A Christocentric Prayer

Written by Fr. Alan Joseph Adami OP

Translated by Fr. Dominic Scerri OP

“You all, beloved of Christ and of the glorious Virgin Mary, take this psalter, which according to St. Ambrose, contains two kings among all the prayers, namely, our Father and Sliema. These two prayers are two of the most common and worthy Gospels that deserve to be preached. ” [1]

 

With these are the words of the Dominican Blessed, propagandist of the greatest of the Holy Rosary, Alan de Rupe, we open our reflection on the request of the Holy Rosary, because they bind together the essence of the rosary and its nature. It is on this obligation that the Order that I embrace, that is, the Dominican Order, has felt from its cradle.

If we look at the Christian life, and ask what its main vocation is, then we come to mind the universal call, which the Second Vatican Council so strongly emphasized in the Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen Gentium, that through Her reminded every baptized person of his call to holiness. Holiness is nothing but the commandment of Christ in the gospel according to St. Matthew, to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect (cf. Matt. 5:48). But if we were to present this perfection in a more tangible way, we would have to declare at once that perfection is nothing but the perfect likeness of Christ. This is what holiness is all about. No wonder then that the Apostle Our Father Saint Paul could say, "Be as I am, even as I am in Christ" (1 Cor. 11: 1).

And if the Apostle Paul could say this because of his perfect resemblance to Christ during his lifetime, how much more then can these words be said of the Blessed Virgin, that in the words of St. Anselm is “Woman, filled and overflowing with grace… ”which“ from its abundance all creation receives new life. ” And he goes on to say, "Virgin, blessed are all creatures, through whom all creation has been blessed, not only creation by the Creator, but the Creator himself has been blessed by creation." [2]

The Rosary is precisely the way in which man in union with the Blessed Virgin blesses the Creator while being blessed by the Creator.  In truth, there are two main ways in which creation is blessed. They both come from Mary and have a similarity to her. The first instrument is the human body of Christ, through which God saved man. This human body comes from the womb of Mary and therefore naturally bears a resemblance to the Blessed Virgin, just as a baby bears a resemblance to its parents. The second instrument is the rosary which, like the human body of Christ, is an instrument derived from the contemplative life of the Blessed Virgin, and which bears a resemblance to the Blessed Virgin.

And what similarities do we have with the Blessed Virgin through the Holy Rosary? The first resemblance is in the contemplative life, that is, the life that contemplates God in the Holy face of our Lord Jesus Christ. The second resemblance is in the active life, that life through which God is conveyed to those who contemplate him. We will reflect on this in the next two days, today we will first of all reflect on the eye that opens the doors of Salvation, that is, the person of Jesus Christ, because as St. Euchariu of Lyons writes, “if you want to understand to the Mother, she needs to understand the Son; for she is worthy to be the Mother of God. ” In other words, if we are to recognize the greatness of the Blessed Virgin, we must first understand the greatness and dignity of our Lord Jesus Christ, since she was raised in honor to be worthy of him. And Pope John Paul II, in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Viriginis Mariae, writes, "The Rosary, though of a clear Marian tendency, is at its heart a Christocentric prayer." [3] This paradox takes us deep into the heart of Marian theology, where all that is said about the Blessed Virgin is marked to lead to her son our Lord Jesus Christ.

When the Angelic Doctor St. Thomas Aquinas, goes to ask why God needed him to become human, in his machine opera Summa Contra Gentiles, he writes, incarnatio Dei efficacissimum fuit auxilium homini ad beatitudinem tendenti. [4] "The incarnation of God was the most effective aid to man in his longing for holiness." Dear devotees of Our Lady of the Rosary, the Dominican Doctor goes to place in the center of the incarnation man's eagerness for holiness. As one of the Fathers of St. Clement of Alexandria Church writes, "God became man, so that man might learn from man how to become a god." [5]

Man's holiness consists in nothing but seeing the face of God, as St. John writes in his First Letter, "Yet we know that when he appears, we will be like him, for we see him as he is" ( 1Jn: 3: 2). And St. Paul also writes in the letter to the Romans, “At present we see as if in a mirror, blurred, but then we see face to face. Now I know, I know, even as I now know ”(1 Cor 13:12). There is no doubt that the Christian faith teaches that all human desires find their fulfillment in the Beatification Vision, in that Vision when we see God as he is. Therefore, the desire of every human being should be like that of a blind man who, when Christ asks him, "What do you want me to do for you" he answers, "To see Rabbi again" (cf. Mk 10:51).

And so that this desire to see God face to face may be awakened in the heart of man, God in his mercy, as if we were tasted from now on with a sensible, material, human vision, when he shows his face to us, he speaks directly to us. , in the person of Jesus Christ, true God and true man. Two thousand years ago, all those who met Christ have already tasted the sweetness of the Beatifying Vision that we expect to have after our death.

But if the Jews contemplated the face of Christ with their own eyes, we would contemplate it with the rosary. If the Jews tasted the sweetness of the face of Christ through their senses, we tasted this same sweetness through the eyes of the Blessed Virgin. Thus the Human body of Christ and the Holy Rosary are both material means of salvation emanating from the Blessed Virgin. The human body of Christ, which unites us to God from the cross, emerges from the womb of the Blessed Virgin; the crown of the Rosary, as Blessed Bartolo Longo calls it in his Supplication to Our Lady of Pompeii writes, "the sweet chain that unites us to God," emanating from the contemplation of the Blessed Virgin. If the human body of Christ bears a resemblance to the Blessed Virgin in sinless life, the rosary bears a resemblance to the Blessed Virgin in her life of contemplation.

Like the Blessed Virgin, who, as a mother, looks at her son's face with her back and reflects on the events of her life, so we in the Rosary look again at the face of Christ, and remember his life when we announce them before each mail. But in the Rosary we do not simply make a nostalgic reminder, but it is a reminder of God’s deeds in the past and a request for God to do again what he once did in history, today in our present story. This remembrance is in the Jewish sense, zakari or in Greek ἀνάμνησις , because we pray that through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, salvation will be restored again "now and at the hour of our death."

Therefore, brethren, if from the womb of the Blessed Virgin we have received the body of Christ, the Sacrament par excellence from which all the other sacraments come, from the contemplative life of the Blessed Virgin we have received the Rosary that reflects our thoughts, and our gaze on the face of Christ.

How right then was Pope John Paul II when he called the rosary a "Christocentric prayer," a prayer that revolves all around Christ. What is there in Mary that is not Christocentric, what is in Mary that does not lead us to God? This sweet chain of God is, so to speak, another part of the material loop that leads us to God.

 

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[1] As seen in Luigi Gambero, Mary in the Middle Ages (trans. Thomas Buffer; San Francisco: Ignatius Press), 318.

[2] Anselm, Discourse 52.

[3] John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (2nd edition; trans. P. Alfred Previ OP; Malta: Dominican Publications, 2011), 1.

[4] SCG IV, 54.2.

[5] Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation to the Greeks, 1.

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