Assessing the Year of the Rosary

«To Recite the Beads Is Not to Retreat Into Oneself»

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 29, 2003 ( John Paul II assessed the Year of the Rosary during today’s general audience, held in St. Peter’s Basilica and Paul VI Hall. Here is a translation of his address which was given in Italian.

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1. The Year of the Rosary ends with the month of October.

I am profoundly grateful to God for this time of grace, in which the whole ecclesial community has been able to reflect on the value and importance of the rosary, as a Christological and contemplative prayer.

«To contemplate with Mary the face of Christ» (apostolic letter «Rosarium Virginis Mariae,» 3). These words, which recur in the apostolic letter «Rosarium Virginis Mariae,» have become, so to speak, the «motto» of the Year of the Rosary. They express in synthesis the real meaning of this prayer at once simple and profound. At the same time, they highlight the continuity between the proposal of the rosary and the path indicated to the People of God in my preceding apostolic letter «Novo Millennio Ineunte.»

2. If, in fact, at the beginning of the third millennium, Christians are called to grow as «contemplatives of the face of Christ» («Novo Millennio Ineunte,» 16), and the ecclesial communities to become «authentic schools of prayer» (ibid., 33), the rosary constitutes the «Marian way,» hence the privileged path, to attain this double objective. Desirous of reflecting ever more the «mystery» of Christ, the Church enters the school of Mary to meditate on the «mysteries» of his Gospel. This is «Mary’s way» (see ibid., 24), the path on which she carried out her exemplary pilgrimage of faith, as first disciple of the Incarnate Word. It is, at the same time, the way of an authentic Marian devotion, centered totally on the relation that exists between Christ and his most Holy Mother (see ibid.).

3. During this Year, I wished to commend to the People of God two great prayer intentions: peace and the family.

The 21st century, born under the sign of the great Jubilee reconciliation, has unfortunately inherited from the past numerous and enduring focuses of war and violence. The disconcerting attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and what has happened in the world since then, have increased tension at the global level. In face of these worrying situations, to recite the beads of the rosary is not to retreat into oneself, but a conscious choice of faith: Contemplating the face of Christ, our peace and our reconciliation, we wish to implore from God the gift of peace, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy. We ask her for the necessary strength to be builders of peace, beginning with daily life in the family.

The family! The family nucleus should, in fact, be the first realm in which the peace of Christ is received, cultivated and guarded. In our days, however, without prayer it becomes ever more difficult for the family to realize its vocation. This is why it would be really useful to restore the beautiful custom of reciting the rosary at home, as happened in past generations. «The family that prays together stays together» («Rosarium Virginis Mariae,» 41).

4. I entrust these intentions to Our Lady, so that she will protect families and obtain peace for individuals and for the whole world.

Together with the Virgin, I hope that all believers will undertake with determination the path to holiness, keeping their gaze fixed on Jesus and meditating, with the rosary, the mysteries of salvation. This will be the most precious fruit of this year dedicated to the prayer of the rosary.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[At the end of the audience, the Holy Father gave the following summary in English:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

During the Year of the Rosary the whole Church has contemplated with Mary the face of Christ and sought to become a genuine school of prayer.

In the face of war, violence and tension, praying the rosary is a conscious expression of faith: Meditating on Christ we implore the gift of peace, through the intercession of Mary, and we ask her for the strength to be peacemakers especially in the home.

I encourage you all to continue to pray the rosary along the path of holiness. There you will find the peace of Christ!

I extend a special welcome to the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today, including the groups from England, Ireland, Finland, Japan and the United States. May Mary, Queen of the Rosary, protect you and lead you ever more closely to her Son.

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