1. Way of Formation

2. Deuterocatechumenate

3. Participation

4. Guideposts

5. Diakonia

6. Formation in DC

7. Oasis Retreat

8. Charism of Encounter

9. The Tent of Meeting

10. The Rosary in the Light-Life Movement

11. Spontaneous Prayer

The Rosary in the Light-Life Movement

The Rosary

The Rosary prayer is one of the permanent and essential elements of the formation program in the Light-Life Movement. One of the specific aims of the oasis retreat is to awaken a love for this prayer in the participants and to teach them how to pray the Rosary appropriately and fruitfully.

The Rosary plays such an essential role in the Light-Life Movement because it is a Marian prayer, and through it, the Marian orientation of the Movement is expressed. Every day through the Rosary, the participants strengthen their relationship with Mary Immaculate, the Mother of the Living Church, and the Mother of the Light-Life Movement.

The Rosary is also a vital element of the school of prayer, and the oasis retreat is supposed to be a school of prayer. First of all, it teaches meditative prayer, contemplating the history of salvation, which is a condition for the appropriate participation in the liturgy.

Finally, the Rosary is a means of forming Christian attitudes, which are an imitation of Mary’s attitudes toward Christ and other people. That is why we have in the Movement a custom of joining the Rosary with the practice of the small group meetings. In this way, we learn to listen to the Word of God with Mary and “keep it” as she did.

To fulfill the tasks mentioned above, the Rosary must be adequately prayed. That is why we have adopted a method, which expresses the post-conciliar endeavor to renew this prayer.

Does the Rosary prayer demand a “renewal”[1]?

Is it not just an unhealthy rush to change everything that has existed up till now? Undoubtedly, many people pray the Rosary willingly, and this form of prayer nourishes their spiritual life and helps establish a real relationship with God. However, we can often encounter people who say they do not understand or like the Rosary. These people are not necessarily indifferent to religion. However, the Rosary seems to be difficult for them, and they are not able to pray in this way; they cannot connect the words recited with thinking about the content of the mysteries. They do not fully understand the logic behind saying something while thinking of something else. For many people who pray the Rosary, the fact that the words do not cover the core of this prayer is very difficult to accept. Maybe in the earlier ages, it was easier. People were used to Latin words of the liturgy, which usually were not associated in their minds with any particular content but were only creating a climate that helped focus on God. Today, when we use national languages in the liturgy to make the words match the content of prayer, the “duality” still present in the Rosary becomes an obstacle hard to overcome. Sometimes even the widespread custom of “first contemplating (i.e., reading a commentary), then praying” does not help.

When we look back to its beginnings, we discover that the essence of the Rosary is to contemplate Mary’s joy because of the Incarnation of God’s Son. The first words of Hail Mary express the Messianic joy, and, according to some exegetes, they should be translated as “Rejoice, Mary.”

The scope of this joy is vast if we remember that it is not only the human happiness of the Mother but also the evangelical joy caused by the fulfillment of God’s promises about the work of salvation. Thus, that joy embraces the Incarnation of the Word and his coming to the earth; the fulfillment of God’s salvation plan for humanity through the death of Christ; the opening of an eschatological perspective through Christ’s Resurrection, Christ’s return to the Father; the descent of the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier; and the triumph of Christ’s Mother. Of course, that is the joy of all the People of God, i.e., of all the baptized. So the Rosary may be understood as the contemplation of the mystery of salvation, accomplished by Jesus, Son of Mary. This Marian prayer is, at the same time, thoroughly Christological. The thoughts, engaged in the contemplation of what “the fruit of Mary’s womb, Jesus” has done for us (for me), are directed to the Mother, “blessed among women.” As the Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium states, Mary remains closely connected with the mystery of Christ and the Church.

Each of us needs a constant returning to this origin of our religious life to grow properly and make us able to look at all our everyday matters and problems in the proper perspective. The Rosary, understood that way, would be not only a prayer of pleading but a contemplative prayer as well.

When the Rosary was born in the Church, the Hail Mary prayer had a different form: it was limited to the first, biblical part and ended with the name “Jesus.” The second part, starting with the words “Holy Mary,” and having the pleading character, especially asking for a good death, came to being much later (it was introduced to Roman breviary in 1568). It was added to the Rosary probably only when the custom of connecting the Hail Mary with the prayer Holy Mary in all circumstances was well established.

As the Centre National du Rosaire in France discovered, at first, people prayed the Rosary with the words of Hail Mary, stopped at the name of Jesus, and contemplated it. If we wanted to pray the Rosary as it was prayed at the beginning, one decade would consist of ten Hail Mary prayers repeated to the word Jesus. At the end of the mystery, only once would we say Holy Mary prayer, presenting the Mother of God all the requests that came to our minds while contemplating this mystery. And, of course, at the end of the decade, we would say Glory Be.

Such a way of praying the Rosary is already a step forward in pursuing a better prayer. However, it does not fill the gap between words and thoughts. This gap will be removed if we refer to an old tradition of adding, after Jesus’ name, a phrase referring to the contemplated mystery[2]. That phrase should be an expanded sentence expressing a particular truth about Jesus. For example:

  • Jesus, who is the Incarnate, Eternal Word of the Father;
  • Jesus, who became man for our salvation;
  • Jesus, who redeemed our sins through his death on the cross;
  • Jesus, who was the first to rise from the dead.

In history, sorting out such phrases into blocks of ten “Hail Mary” prayers, each referring to one of the central mysteries of Jesus’ life, resulted in the form of the Rosary we have today. Such a method of praying, “the Rosary with phrases,” is still used in some European countries. Also, St. John Paul II, in his Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae encouraged the faithful to pray the Rosary in this way (see paragraph 33).

What value is there in this form of praying the Rosary?

First, it solves the psychological difficulties of praying the Rosary and helps avoid “rattling off” Hail Marys, repeating the words mechanically. Besides, we do not have to separate contemplation from prayer. Our difficulties are solved perfectly: we focus on the added phrase, which we are awaiting and which we cannot predict. Everybody has to pay attention: the person adding the phrase and the following persons (when praying in a group, people may add phrases in a row). This method also ideally helps to focus when we pray the Rosary individually.

Secondly, thanks to this method, the Rosary truly becomes what it should be in its essence: a meditative prayer. This method forces us to make an effort and explore the salvific reality (mystery), see the richness of its many aspects, and “exploit” it in relation to our everyday life.

Finally, due to this method, the Rosary becomes a Christological prayer, and Mary becomes the way to Christ for us. We learn to enter with her into the mystery of Christ and make it bear fruit in our life.

The “oasis method” of praying the Rosary is relatively easy if one understands its core. However, it appears to be difficult when put into practice because it requires a certain discipline of thinking, which is rare in our time.

This discipline demands adding phrases formed properly, both grammatically and stylistically. The phrase that we add is a subordinate clause, and it depends in its form and grammatical structure on the main clause. The main clause: “the fruit of thy womb, Jesus” is addressed to Mary so, consequently, in the subordinate clause we cannot change the subject and say, “…Jesus, who took Mary to Heaven.” We would have to say, “Jesus, who took you to Heaven.” Similarly, if we want to add a phrase that refers to Jesus, to whom the main clause refers in the third person, we cannot formulate the subordinate clause referring to Jesus in the second person, e.g., “… the fruit of Thy womb Jesus, you took the cross for us.” We would have to say, “Jesus, who took the cross for us.”

One more principle should be emphasized: we should focus on the central theme of the meditated mystery. For example, if we meditate on the mystery of the Nativity, the idea is to enter deep into the reality of Christ’s birth as a mystery of faith. Added phrases should show different aspects and wealth of this reality related to our everyday life and not present random statements about Jesus or Mary.

In Rosarium Virginis Mariae, Pope John Paul II suggests “to follow the announcement of the mystery with the proclamation of a related Biblical passage, long or short, depending on the circumstances. No other words can ever match the efficacy of the inspired word. As we listen, we are certain that this is the word of God, spoken for today and spoken ‘for me.’ If received in this way, the word of God can become part of the Rosary’s methodology of repetition without giving rise to the ennui derived from the simple recollection of something already well known. It is not a matter of recalling information but of allowing God to speak[3]". Adopting such a practice while praying the Rosary with phrases helps focus on each mystery and avoid the malpractices described above.

When you practice this method of praying the Rosary correctly, it becomes a great school of mental and liturgical prayer. It is so because the liturgy particularly needs the skill of prayerful investigation through faith into the salvific mystery of salvation actualized in sacramental signs. Well-prayed Rosary will become a great school of the Christian life because it will teach us to submit our lives to the reality of Christ’s life, which should be the model for us. The Virgin Mary, who entered perfectly the life and way of Christ with a rational attitude of the Handmaid of the Lord, becomes our best teacher, offering us participation in her attitude toward Christ[4].

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