Despair, Hope and the Rosary

In honour of the Blessed Virgin, we might peruse Pope Saint John Paul II’s encyclical on the Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, which he promulgated on the 25th anniversary of the beginning of his pontificate, October 16th, 2002, about the same time as he re-instituted this memorial of the Holy Name of Mary.

Our society needs prayers – besides our own intercession for ourselves, so to speak – and a brief glance at the news gives ample material. To paraphrase Cardinal Newman, if there is one aspect of God’s divine revelation that seems self-evident, it is the doctrine of original sin and the fall of Man.

Ironies abound: A pastor at a mega-church, Jarrid Wilson, a mental health advocate, whose specific apostolate was to help those tempted to suicide, has succumbed to his own struggles, himself committing that tragic, irrevocable, final act, and this in what I discovered was the ‘suicide awareness month’ of September. Since the days of Luther and Calvin, there is much that is missing in the various fissiparous and varying Protestant sects, not least devotion to the Mother of God, a devotion which gives us supernatural hope even in our worst troubles, woes and discouragement.

Then again, not all of them. J.S. Bach was quite devoted to the Mother of God, as were – and are – so many of his Lutheran brethren, and I would recommend a listen to his ineffable musical setting of the Magnificat, to raise one’s spirits.

As today’s memorial reminds us, even saying her name, calling out to her, lifts us up in a way that cannot be naturally explained. As we quoted Mother Teresa on Our Lady’s birthday: If you ever feel distressed during your day — call upon our Lady — just say this simple prayer: ‘Mary, Mother of Jesus, please be a mother to me now.’ I must admit — this prayer has never failed me.

And such a prayer never will fail us.

Our Lady of Guadalupe said to Juan Diego, words with which we will close for now:

Listen and let it penetrate your heart…do not be troubled or weighed down with grief. Do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle? In the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else you need?