Pastor’s Column- May 3, 2020

Dear Friends,

When I taught high school religious studies in Massachusetts
in the late 1970s after graduating from Stonehill College, I
would spend classes in early October teaching the students in
my freshmen Scripture course how to pray the rosary. While
most of them were familiar with rosary beads and the general
approach to praying the rosary, I explained how it was actually
a Christocentric prayer focused on the mysteries of the life,
passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus upon which we meditate as we, in a
sense, lose ourselves in the repetition of the Hail Mary. (For this reason, I am very
grateful for the Luminous Mysteries added by Pope John Paul II that focus on key
moments of the life of Jesus.) Many of my students were surprised to learn that
the rosary was actually a Catholic form of meditation.
On April 25th, the Feast of Saint Mark the Evangelist, Pope Francis released a
statement encouraging people to pray the rosary during May, the month of Mary,
along with two new Marian prayers he wrote, for an end to the coronavirus
pandemic. Francis wrote, “The month of Mary is… a time when the People of God
express with particular intensity their love and devotion for the Blessed Virgin
Mary. It is traditional in this month to pray the Rosary at home within the family.
The restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more
this ‘family’ aspect, also from a spiritual point of view. For this reason, I want to
encourage everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary at home in
the month of May. This can be done either as a group or individually; you can
decide according to your own situations, making the most of both opportunities.
The key to doing this is always simplicity.”
Pope Francis explained in this statement that he was “also providing two prayers
to Our Lady that you can recite at the end of the Rosary, and that I myself will pray
in the month of May, in spiritual union with all of you. I include them with this
letter so that they are available to everyone. Dear brothers and sisters,
contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary our Mother will make us
even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial.
I keep all of you in my prayers, especially those suffering most greatly, and I ask
you, please, to pray for me. I thank you, and with great affection I send you my
blessing.”
The rosary is a regular, although not daily, part of my personal prayer life. When
I’m on retreat I often pray the rosary a couple times or more a day. I invite you to
join me in praying the rosary each day during the month of May, ending with
Francis’ two Marian prayers found in this bulletin, for an end to the Covid-19
pandemic, for those suffering from the illness and those caring for them, for
health workers and first responders, for our parish and school community, and for
all who are putting their lives on the line to meet the needs of others during this
challenging time.
I also remind you of the suggestion I made in my pastor’s column a few weeks ago
to, in the words of Blessed Basil Moreau, C.S.C., establish a “health zone” of
prayer around our homes and school under the protection of Divine Providence.

In Christ,
Father Jim