Many of us were deeply shocked last Friday on hearing of the tragedy for so many families in Creeslough, County Donegal. In the blink of an eye, 8 families were robbed of their loved ones and as a country we were united with them in their grief. We pray for the injured and bereaved in these sad days and many of us have turned to the Rosary either privately or as part of the organised vigils. As a mediative prayer, a prayer for peace, the Rosary gives comfort in times of sadness and desolation.
The great devotion to the Holy Rosary in Ireland probably stems from our troubled past and if you have ever been to either the shrine at Knock or even to St Patrick’s Purgatory you will be left in no doubt as to the huge loyalty, we as a nation have to Our Lady. The Hail Mary prayer stems from two passages in Luke’s Gospel. The prayer was put together in the 11th Century and then became popular in the 16th century. It is said today by Catholics all over the world and the petitions in the final part also serve as a beautiful prayer to ask for help in times of need.
Some find it difficult to pray the rosary. Others find that praying the rosary using the beads is a useful way of keeping them focused on what they are doing. The beads are helpful and remind us to focus our minds and heart on prayer. Even if we are distracted, the beads call us back. Critics argue that in devotion to Our Lady, we forget about God but Pope John Paul reassures us that ‘when the Mother is honoured, the Son is duly known, loved and glorified’.
In the midst of our busy lives, there is always time for a quick decade since the rosary is such an easy prayer to say. The most characteristic element of saying the rosary is the litany-like succession of Hail Marys. As we go through the month of October – the month of the rosary – we can renew our regular praying of it and our devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or we can become acquainted for the first time with the graces, blessings and comfort that come from praying the rosary.
In saying the rosary, we meditate the mysteries of joy, of sorrow, of glory and of the light of Jesus and Mary. It is a prayer we can all say together with Her. In the Hail Mary we invite Her to pray for us. As we dedicate this month to the Holy Rosary, let us ask for the help of the Blessed Virgin Mary that we may be closer to Jesus, Her Son and understand the value of humility, simplicity and charity.
The Rosary will be said in Newry Cathedral at 10am every Monday to Saturday during October.
Mary, Queen of the most Holy Rosary. Pray for us.