Entering and Excelling in the School of Mary, Our Lady of the Rosary, 27th Wednesday (I), October 7, 2015

Fr. Roger J. Landry
St. Patrick’s Cathedral, New York
Monthly Young Adult Mass
Wednesday of the 27th Week in Ordinary Time, Year I
Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary
October 7, 2015
Jon 4:1-11, Ps 86, Lk 11:1-4


To listen to an audio recording of today’s homily, please click below: 


The following outline guided tonight’s homily: 

  • Teach us to pray
    • Jesus taught us how to relate to Our Father, to seek the glorification of his name, his kingdom, his will, to trust in his providence, seek to become merciful like him through receiving his mercy, to be helped by him to pass the tests of life, and to protect us from the bad guys.
    • We all need to learn how to pray.
    • Jesus learned how to pray according to his humanity from Mary. Prayed the Psalms. Meditated on Sacred Scripture. Heard her Magnificat. She had enfleshed the Word, putting it into practice.
    • That’s why he entrusted us to her at his ascension. The Church turned to Mary to learn how to pray before Pentecost
    • Mary continues to teach. The Rosary is her school, a school of faith, in which she teaches us, like she taught the early Church, how to stay focused on Jesus.
      • JP II “With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love.”
      • John Paul II called the Rosary the “echo of the prayer of Mary,” a “compendium” of the Gospel,” and something that, “reclaimed in its full meaning, goes to the heart of the Christian life.”
      • We look at all the mysteries of Jesus through the heart of Mary, contemplating with her Christ’s face. Learning from her how to keep, ponder and treasure all these mysteries in our heart. Through the Rosary, we remember Christ with Mary, learn Christ from Mary, are conformed to Christ with Mary, pray to Christ through Mary and are strengthened to proclaim Christ with Mary.
    • It’s not just praying the Rosary but praying it well.
      • Bernardette in 1858.
      • Pastorinhos in Fatima in 1917.
      • JP II: Meditative, contemplative prayer. JP II struggled, but learned how to relive her mystery in Christ.
        • “In Debniki, at the time when my priestly vocation was developing, … a change took place in my understanding of devotion to the Mother of God. I was already convinced that Mary leads us to Christ, but at that time I began to realize also that Christ leads us to his Mother. At one point, I began to question my devotion to Mary, believing that, if it became too great, it might end up compromising the supremacy of the worship owed to Christ. At that time, I was greatly helped by a book by St. Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort entitled Treatise of True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin. There I found answers to my questions. Yes, Mary does bring us closer to Christ; she does lead us to him, provided that we live her mystery in Christ.” (JP II)
      • Pope Francis:
        • Pope Francis has said publicly that one of the means of his spiritual strength at 78 years of age is that he prays three Rosaries a day.
        • Since 1985, praying three Rosaries a day has been part of Pope Francis’ daily Plan of Life. The change happened when, as a priest, he witnessed St. John Paul II on his knees publicly leading the faithful in the prayer of the Rosary. He saw in his predecessor the fruits of Marian devotion and sought to follow St. John Paul II’s example. Now he’s hoping that we follow his.
        • One of his papal secretaries said about him, “He works tirelessly and, when he feels the need to take a moment’s pause, he closes his eyes and … simply sits and prays the Rosary. He prays at least three Rosaries a day. ‘This helps me unwind,’ he told me. Then he sets to work again.”
        • In the preface of a book on the Rosary written by another of his secretaries, the Pope wrote, “The Rosary is a prayer that always accompanies me; it is also the prayer of the ordinary people and the saints. … It’s a prayer from my heart.”
        • WYD: “Be both contemplatives and missionaries. Always keep Our Lady with you and please pray the Rosary…. Do not neglect it! Always keep Our Lady with you at home, as did the Apostle John. May she always accompany you and keep you.”
        • “I would like to recall the importance and beauty of the prayer of the Holy Rosary. Reciting the Hail Mary, we are led to contemplate the mysteries of Jesus, that is, to reflect on the key moments of his life, so that, as with Mary and St Joseph, he is the center of our thoughts, of our attention and our actions.”
        • It’s a prayer, he said, that has us enter Mary’s contemplative heart and in it helps us not only better to ponder the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious moments in the life of the “blessed fruit of [Mary’s] womb,” but also to bring the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious rhythm of our own life into harmony with God’s.
        • He called the Rosary “a school of prayer” and “a school of faith,” and encouraged all of us to get our family members, friends and fellow parishioners to join us in that school.
      • Rosary is a prayer of and for the family
        • The family that prays together stays together.
        • My earliest childhood memories are of praying the Rosary with my family at the kitchen table. It taught me that God was real and part of our daily life. It also taught me how important daily prayer was, with others, for others, and mutually strengthened by others. It deeply nourished my priestly vocation.
        • JP II: “The Holy Rosary, by age-old tradition, has shown itself particularly effective as a prayer which brings the family together. Individual family members, in turning their eyes towards Jesus, also regain the ability to look one another in the eye, to communicate, to show solidarity, to forgive one another and to see their covenant of love renewed in the Spirit of God.”
        • JP II: “The recitation of the family Rosary means filling daily life with very different images [that what we’re used to], images of the mystery of salvation: the image of the Redeemer, the image of his most Blessed Mother. The family that recites the Rosary together reproduces something of the atmosphere of the household of Nazareth: its members place Jesus at the centre, they share his joys and sorrows, they place their needs and their plans in his hands, they draw from him the hope and the strength to go on.”
        • Priest buried in my diocese: Why did Fr. Peyton prioritize the family rosary? There were two reasons. The first was because he believed that family prayer was the only glue strong enough to keep the family bonded in the midst of the centrifugal forces of the industrial economy and modern culture. Second, he believed that the rosary in particular would be a bridge that would bind the family to God. He believed that Mary was the way to Christ and the Rosary was the “pavement which enables you to get” to Christ, through the meditation on the mysteries. “The person with the rosary in hand,” he wrote, “has the key to learning the most important of all lessons: the love of God for us, the destiny he has in store for us and the way he is helping us to reach that destiny. In other words, the rosary, by its very essence, tells a person who uses it wisely and well who Christ is, what he has done for me, and what he has a right to expect from me.”
      • Role of the Rosary in Salvation
        • Prayer for Peace
          • John Paul II made note of all the challenges facing the world, for example against Terrorism, and implores us to pray the Rosary.
          • The Rosary is by its nature a prayer for peace, since it consists in the contemplation of Christ, the Prince of Peace, the one who is ‘our peace’ (Eph 2:14). Anyone who assimilates the mystery of Christ – and this is clearly the goal of the Rosary – learns the secret of peace and makes it his life’s project.
          • He lists several times in the history of the Church in which the prayer of the Rosary has saved Christians and even Christianity. But he also says that the Rosary makes us peacemakers when prayed well. First, the meditative character gives us a sense of peace. But it also produces fruits of charity, leading to the contemplation of the face of Christ, particularly in others, especially the afflicted:
            • Contemplation of child in Bethlehem gives us great desire to welcome, defend and promote life and help children who suffer.
            • Contemplation of Christ the Revealer in mysteries of light leads to resolve to live beatitudes.
            • Contemplation of Christ’s carrying the Cross helps us to be Simon of Cyrene for our brothers and sisters.
            • Contemplation of glory of Christ and of Mary in heaven makes us yearn to make this world more conformed to God’s plan.
            • In a word, by focusing our eyes on Christ, the Rosary also makes us peacemakers in the world.
          • Battle of Lepanto
            • Doubtless John Paul II had in mind the October 7, 1571 Battle of Lepanto, in which a coalition of European and Christian forces defeated the Ottoman navy in a battle that many historians think was the only thing that prevented Europe from becoming Muslim. During that battle, Rosary confraternities throughout Rome, led by Pope St. Pius V, prayed for God’s assistance in the battle. The almost miraculous victory and consequent gratitude to God that ensued, led to the establishment of the feast of Our Lady of Victory one year later. That feast became, with the passage of time, the feast we celebrate today, Our Lady of the Rosary.
            • “The grave challenges confronting the world at the start of this new Millennium,” John Paul continued, “lead us to think that only an intervention from on high, capable of guiding the hearts of those living in situations of conflict and those governing the destinies of nations, can give reason to hope for a brighter future.”
          • I’ve always been very moved by the way Michelangelo depicts the importance of the Rosary in his famous Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel. Jesus is seated on his throne in the very act of judgment. To his left at the bottom, souls are being dragged downward toward hell because of their definitive self-exclusion from his kingdom. To his right at the bottom, however, souls are being lifted upward toward heaven. And the means by which many of them are being exalted is through the “life-line” of the Holy Rosary, being held by angels and saints and grasped onto by souls, centuries before we had ever witnessed the first helicopter rescues with the help of lifelines. It’s the Rosary that helps us to unite ourselves to Christ in the pilgrimage from the joy of our birth, to the stages of illumination particularly in the sacraments (like baptism, confession, marriage and the Eucharist, all of which are pondered in the Luminous Mysteries), through the sorrows our own suffering, passion and death, to our incorporation God willing into Jesus’ own resurrection and Mary’s assumption into heaven.

The readings from tonight’s Mass were: 

Reading 1 JON 4:1-11

Jonah was greatly displeased
and became angry that God did not carry out the evil
he threatened against Nineveh.
He prayed, “I beseech you, LORD,
is not this what I said while I was still in my own country?
This is why I fled at first to Tarshish.
I knew that you are a gracious and merciful God,
slow to anger, rich in clemency, loathe to punish.
And now, LORD, please take my life from me;
for it is better for me to die than to live.”
But the LORD asked, “Have you reason to be angry?”Jonah then left the city for a place to the east of it,
where he built himself a hut and waited under it in the shade,
to see what would happen to the city.
And when the LORD God provided a gourd plant
that grew up over Jonah’s head,
giving shade that relieved him of any discomfort,
Jonah was very happy over the plant.
But the next morning at dawn
God sent a worm that attacked the plant,
so that it withered.
And when the sun arose, God sent a burning east wind;
and the sun beat upon Jonah’s head till he became faint.
Then Jonah asked for death, saying,
“I would be better off dead than alive.”

But God said to Jonah,
“Have you reason to be angry over the plant?”
“I have reason to be angry,” Jonah answered, “angry enough to die.”
Then the LORD said,
“You are concerned over the plant which cost you no labor
and which you did not raise;
it came up in one night and in one night it perished.
And should I not be concerned over Nineveh, the great city,
in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand persons
who cannot distinguish their right hand from their left,
not to mention the many cattle?”

Responsorial Psalm PS 86:3-4, 5-6, 9-10

R. (15) Lord, you are merciful and gracious.
Have mercy on me, O Lord,
for to you I call all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
R. Lord, you are merciful and gracious.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
abounding in kindness to all who call upon you.
Hearken, O LORD, to my prayer
and attend to the sound of my pleading.
R. Lord, you are merciful and gracious.
All the nations you have made shall come
and worship you, O Lord,
and glorify your name.
For you are great, and you do wondrous deeds;
you alone are God.
R. Lord, you are merciful and gracious.

Alleluia ROM 8:15BC

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You have received a spirit of adoption as sons
through which we cry: Abba! Father!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel LK 11:1-4

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he had finished,
one of his disciples said to him,
“Lord, teach us to pray just as John taught his disciples.”
He said to them, “When you pray, say:Father, hallowed be your name,
your Kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread
and forgive us our sins
for we ourselves forgive everyone in debt to us,
and do not subject us to the final test.”