Monday, August 17, 2015

We Can Make a Difference in the World!

We're all so worried about the world, about its evils and injustices. These are evil times, we say. People are full of selfishness and violence, and our political leaders are driven by destructive agendas.

It would not be realistic to deny any of these points. And indeed, we are all called to do what we can to build up the good, and to struggle against the evils that afflict our society, our communities, our families, and our own lives. There are many things we can do.

Here is something all of us can do: Pray the Rosary! Every day.
Some more specific gestures involving the Rosary are proposed at various times and places: e.g. right now many in the United States are praying a 54 day "Rosary Novena" (which began on the Solemnity of the Assumption, August 15, and will end on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, October 7). We are praying for marriage and family, peace, the recognition of the sanctity of human life, and respect for religious freedom. (Click HERE for more information about this gesture.)
This is genuine, dynamic social action. The Rosary is a powerful prayer, because Mary is our Merciful Mother and she cares about our whole lives as human beings, including our living together in society. When we present the needs of our world to her heart, and through her to Jesus's Sacred Heart, we are performing an important work of mercy.

Praying for people, praying for the needs of the world, is a vital, crucial "spiritual work of mercy," and "spiritual" does not mean unreal. Its effort and its fruits are often hidden, but by faith we know that if we pray from the heart our prayer is every bit as real and concrete as the bread we give to the hungry. In all its forms, mercy is a way of looking at reality, at others, with compassion. The world desperately needs the touch of mercy through the works of mercy.

So let's pray the Rosary!

I'm not suggesting that "piety" is a substitute for grappling with specific human problems, or a pretext for hiding from them. We must engage the circumstances of our lives. But as Christians we should know that if we don't pray, we'll be neglecting the most important dimension of our circumstances...and our lives.

Whatever our "intentions" may be, when we pray the Rosary we are first of all praying for ourselves; we are always lifting up to Jesus through Mary our own profound need for mercy and healing, and our heart's cry for the Mystery who is Eternal Love.

Pray the Rosary! Pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This is something Our Lady of Fatima asked us to do. She often asks for simple things: "Build me a church...." "Make this medal...." "Say this prayer...."

"Yes," we reply, "but the Rosary is not simple. It's hard!"

Not really. It's not so hard. What's hard is to be confronted, day after day, with the smallness of our love. We always make a bad job of the Rosary, because we don't love God very much.

So let us ask the Lord, through His loving Mother, to give us the grace to love Him more, and the grace to say the Rosary better. That won't make us perfect tomorrow. But the daily Rosary will teach us to be humble and to be faithful in one small thing. And thus we take little steps, with trust.

Let us entrust it to Mary's heart. Let us entrust everything to her, and through her, to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I think one reason Mary asked for the Rosary and devotion to her Immaculate Heart at Fatima is because she wanted to draw our faith into sharper focus.

It simply won't do to turn "being Catholic" into an ideology or an abstract program, even if we have every doctrine memorized backwards and forwards. The faith must be recognized as reality, and adhered to with affection--because what we believe in is the Love of a Person. Jesus.

Mary makes things concrete. The Rosary is a way of joining with Mary in the "pondering of her heart." If we pray it, we will grow. It is an extraordinary, healing, miracle-working prayer.

Jesus calls us through Mary's heart, through this prayer. As we try to dwell on the mysteries of His life, we may find ourselves quite distracted. Still, we are searching for Him with our small hearts. We want to look at Him.

And we can depend on this: He is looking at us. He is with us in Mary's heart. He is our brother. He draws us closer to Him, and He changes us.