Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Sowing the Seeds of Mary's Victory

The Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima, as guest
in our house in January of 2012.
Today is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, and it is a wonderful occasion for celebrating this Gospel-centered prayer of simple gestures with beads and meditation with the mind and heart. It is an invitation to enter into Mary's school of prayer; to let her teach us how she accompanied Jesus through His life, death, and resurrection, and how she "treasured all these things in her heart" (Luke 2:51).

This day is marked in history by the successful defense of Christian Europe against the invading Turks in the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. Pope St. Pius V had asked everyone to pray the rosary for the success of this seemingly desperate enterprise that sought to prevent the ruthless invasion of Western Europe, and thereafter the rosary acquired a special relationship to Mary's maternal protection against the perpetrators of violence and oppression. She was given the title of "Our Lady of Victory."

At Fatima in 1917, the Mother of God once again proposed praying the rosary as the way to prevail over the unprecedented flood of horror and dehumanization that had already begun in Europe and the world, and that would dominate the 20th century.

She spoke too about her heart — the heart that had treasured everything and pondered and carried the whole world with Jesus on the Cross, the heart that suffered and remembered — her all-holy, immaculate heart.

This is the way to victory: the rosary and Mary's heart.

When we pray the rosary today, we may wonder what sort of "victory" we can hope for. The world is in turmoil, and Jesus and Mary are hard to find in our society, in the chaos that surrounds us and — let's be honest — swirls around inside of us, preoccupies us, makes us so often foolish, angry, afraid.

Have we been abandoned? Where is that maternal protection that we need so much? Mother Mary, have you left us alone?

No, she has not abandoned us!

She never gives up on any one of us, because she is our mother. She is with us even if we are sick with fever and cannot recognize her tenderness.

And she loves all her children. The world belongs to her, and she is hard at work for true peace. She is sowing miracles everywhere that will bear fruit in patience — miracles that begin like tiny seeds, like the beads of the rosary.

Our fidelity to those beads is crucial, however distracted we may be, however frustrated we may feel about our efforts to "meditate" (or even to stay awake), as long as we have the heart for it. We want to share in Mary's heart of love, at least a little bit, and then a little bit more, one bead at a time.

Our fidelity to those beads helps us to live the "beads of life," the smallness of love from one moment to the next. We take one bead with hope, and then the next bead... again, with hope.

That is how Love triumphs in the world.