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28th Ordinary Sunday

Prayer by Hand, is what a wonderful little book by Cistercian Fr. Basil Pemmington called the Rosary Tradition. It is a precious image of vibrant Catholicism.

The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was celebrated this past week. The mendicant Orders have been associated with the rosary devotion from the earliest days in its present form, minus the five "new" mysteries established by Pope St. John Paul II. The Dominicans established the first Rosary Confraternity in Cologne, Germany in 1455. The devotion spread like wildfire for a lot of reasons. It was a simple prayer one could do by heart; anyone rich or poor, educated or unlettered could join. In the U.S. context, it has been one of the most popular of Roman Catholic devotions in a primarily Protestant America. The Dominican friars claim it came directly from Our Lady in fifteen decades. The Franciscans claim seven. (We call it a corona or “Crown.”) The Eastern Churches have their own form of "beaded" prayer as does Islam and Buddhism.

One sees rosaries all over the place these days. One hanging from a rearview mirror in a car is a way of announcing that the owner is a Roman Catholic! It can serve as a familiar comfort along busy and sometimes very dangerous highways. Some of the sick keep a rosary looped around their neck so that he could reach it easily while lying in bed. But many on the streets just wear it as a chic fashion statement.

One of the gifts of such a familiar prayer is that one can recite it without thinking about it. You don’t pray it. It prays you. It also enables the user to meditate on events and "mysteries" from the life of Christ and Mary in a familiar pattern. The “Paters” and “Aves” come “by hand” and sometimes even “by heart.” Fr. Pemmington’s book encourages people to use the Gospels and pick five parables, or five healings or five preachings, etc. One does not have to use the "official mysteries." I crafted a resurrection rosary that I do during the Easter season.

The rosary is a daily part for many extended Catholics. My friend Gavin Griffith invents his own. Each morning he prays it as the framework for remembering all the people for whom he promised to pray – One bead to each face! One of the responsibilities of the pastor by canon law is to pray, “pro populo.” One Mass is offered per Sunday “for the people.” It is amazing how being named a pastor changes everything, even my own insides. Your lives become part of my praying every day. We friars remember the needs of the parish in our morning and evening prayer together from the prayer list, intentions, web site and requests that pass to us as we stand in front of the front doors at the end of Mass each weekend.

Praying the Rosary rather than just wearing it or hanging it on the rearview mirror is a great image of the church at prayer. Hope many will be able to join our diocesan community in the Rosary Sunday Celebration on Sunday afternoon at the Convention Center. Remember our ministries fair as well. Many will be called to get involved in a ministry of the parish, or get renewed in a new one. But either way, let’s keep each other in daily prayer.

A gentle week.
Fr. Michael

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