NEW YORK, JUNE 10, 2003 (Zenit.org).- Inspired by John Paul II’s declaration of the Year of the Rosary, a Franciscan Friar of the Renewal, Father Benedict Groeschel, has written a book of meditations on all 20 mysteries of the rosary.
Father Groeschel, director of the office of spiritual development for the Archdiocese of New York, recently spoke with ZENIT about “The Rosary: Chain of Hope” (Ignatius), which was written during his personal recitations of the rosary.
Q: What have the five new luminous mysteries added to the spirituality of the rosary?
Father Groeschel: Marvelous things, because the rosary did not have any meditations on the public life of Christ. It goes from his childhood to his Passion, so all of his teachings, the beginning of the sacraments, the institution of the Eucharist were missing.
I don’t think this was done on purpose. They wanted to keep the number of Hail Marys to 150 because that was the number of the Psalms. I think it was a wonderful expansion to include the meditations and teachings of Christ.
Q: How will the luminous mysteries benefit the spirituality of the Church?
Father Groeschel: It makes people more aware of the content of the Gospel. Protestants have often complained, with some justification, that Catholics don’t know enough about the public life of Christ — “they only concentrate on the nativity and the passion.” Now we’re getting people to read the New Testament.
I’m very convinced that in order to have the needed reform in the Church, we need to have people reading the Gospels. These luminous mysteries will encourage people to read the Gospels, and at the same time, if they are reading the Gospels, it will encourage them to meditate and pray on the life and teachings of Christ.
Q: How can individual believers use your book in a practical way?
Father Groeschel: It is a guide for meditation. The rosary is a way to teach people how to do meditative and intercessory prayer.
Psychologically, the rosary gives us a sort of a spiritual place. In the noise and confusion of life, you can put yourself into this spiritual rose garden. That’s what the word rosary means — a chain of roses. It’s a rose garden in the midst of the city.
Q: Why do you consider the rosary to be a “chain of hope”?
Father Groeschel: We live in very difficult times in the Church — with scandal, confusion and false teaching. And we live in difficult economic times. The poor of the world are desperate, and the wealthy nations are bored to death and cynical.
There’s not a lot of hope in people. And ultimately, our real hope is our salvation through Christ. Our hope in Christ is our happiness.
Q: Why is the Year of the Rosary important to the Church?
This great man of great genius is also a man of simple devotion; like Cardinal Newman, who was a genius, but was a man of great devotion. He was personally, spiritually, psychologically involved, not just dryly thinking. How many of the scholars have no devotion?
That is not the new evangelization. The new evangelization is meeting people where they are. And people are desperate to have the joy and hope in their lives that devotion brings.