As one of the most widely-practiced forms of Christian prayer, the Rosary is well-known for the many benefits which it can confer on a person’s relationship to Our Lord and Our Lady. But the Rosary is not only a tool for the development of a person’s private spiritual life; just like the rest of Christian faith and practice, the Rosary can heal many of the dysfunctions in our political communities as well. How so? Pope Leo XIII, an ardent champion of the Rosary and one of the key teachers of the social doctrine of the Church, outlined some of the Rosary’s social benefits in his 1893 encyclical Laetitiae Sanctae. Though written a hundred and thirty years ago, I think Pope Leo insights can help us now as much as they could then.
First, the Joyful Mysteries teach us the value and beauty of a simple life. In our society, dominated as it is by an ideology of greed and materialism, how often do we prioritize the building up of wealth and property, rather than authentic human values? Consider the poverty into which Our Blessed Lord was born, and in which He lived His whole life. Or consider the quiet, tender care shown by the Blessed Virgin as she travels to be with her cousin St. Elizabeth, despite her own pregnancy. How closely do our own lives and families resemble the poverty and charity of that most perfect of families? How much freer for love and service of others might we be if we truly placed love of God and neighbor above greed and ambition!
Secondly come the Sorrowful Mysteries, which teach us the virtue of patience in the midst of pain and suffering. When a society is far from Christ, then it may begin to place its faith and hope for deliverance from evil, not in the grace of God, but in human effort and technology, thinking that these things could eventually give us the ability to eliminate human suffering, poverty, and even death. But as Christians, we know that such a quest is futile. Suffering and death are the result of sin, and there is no remedy for sin apart from the self-sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As Christians, rather than fear suffering or flee from it, we ought to strive to bear our pain, and eventually our death, with the same love and obedience that Jesus did, and thus become like Him.
Lastly, the Holy Father says that the Glorious Mysteries are the remedy to forgetfulness and apathy with regard to the next life. Our earthly city is not an end in itself, and our efforts to improve it must all have the ultimate end of human life – the heavenly city – in mind if they are to succeed. Jesus and Mary have gone before us to that blessed destiny, and through meditation on them we can order ourselves and our communities to their proper ends.
The social ills which Pope Leo identified remain with us today, and have surely increased as the Faith has been ostracized from our public life. Let us recommit ourselves to the practice of the Rosary, especially in this month of October, so that through these holy mysteries we may be united to Jesus and Mary in this life and the next, as individuals, families, and as communities.
Br. Anselm Dominic LeFave, O.P. | Meet the Brothers in Formation HERE