Bishop teaches on Mary, the Rosary

Photo Caption: In his 2009 Festival Letter, Bishop Jenky writes that by praying the Rosary we can “enter into Mary’s school, learning more about Jesus from Mary.”

By: By Tom Dermody

Saying that “perhaps we now need the Rosary in our arsenal of prayers more than ever,” Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, has begun 2009 by calling for a renewal of love for the Blessed Mother and a greater appreciation of the Rosary as a tool for spiritual growth and evangelization.

“Hail, Full of Grace” is the theme of the bishop’s seventh Festival Letter to the Diocese of Peoria. Subtitled “A Reflection on Our Blessed Mother and her Holy Rosary,” it is printed in full in this issue of The Catholic Post.

“Catholics love Our Lady,” writes the bishop, calling Mary “the first and greatest of the Lord’s disciples.” By praying the Rosary, he said, “we can in a certain sense enter into Mary’s school, learning more about Jesus from Mary.”

The teaching builds upon Bishop Jenky’s recent call for the diocese to observe a special “Year of the Most Holy Rosary” from Aug. 15, 2009, through May 31, 2010. The bishop has asked individuals and Catholic institutions to prepare for that period by considering how to make the Rosary a greater part of their faith life.

In an introductory letter printed at right, the bishop said he hopes the new text provides “further food for reflection and deeper resolution to action.”

Since arriving in the Diocese of Peoria, Bishop Jenky has used an annual Festival Letter, dated on the Solemnity of the Epiphany, to teach on issues important in the life of the diocese. Previous letters have explored topics including Christian service, Catholic education, the obligation of Sunday Eucharist, and Catholic teaching on praying for the dead.

The texts are called Festival Letters because they begin with an announcement of the dates for feasts throughout the liturgical year.

This year’s letter is divided into three parts: reflections on Mary and the Rosary — including its history — and then a section on “How to Pray the Rosary.” In that final section, the bishop prints the words to the various prayers of the Rosary and lists the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious mysteries which the devotion calls to mind.

Bishop Jenky called for diocese-wide teaching on the Rosary, especially to young Catholics.

“I am afraid that many of the Rosaries that are blessed at Baptisms, Confirmations, First Communions, graduations, and marriages remain in their cases rather than are used for prayer,” he writes.

The headlines of the day are proof that the power of prayer, including the Rosary, is sorely needed, said Bishop Jenky.

“In the midst of culture wars, the deconstruction of marriage, a moral meltdown, the mass media’s intense hatred for the Catholic Church, the economic crisis, foreign wars, and a culture of death, perhaps we now need the Rosary in our arsenal of prayers more than ever,” he wrote.

Bishop Jenky especially invited families to pray the Rosary together, saying it enriches married life and models prayer for children.

“If children see their parents pray together, they would themselves be more easily drawn to lifelong habits of prayer and personal devotion,” he writes. The bishop repeated the slogan made famous by Father Patrick Peyton, CSC, that “the family that prays together, stays together.”

In his reflection on Mary, Bishop Jenky called her “everything Christians are called to become.”

“She was the first to receive Jesus into her life, and she was the very first to love and serve him,” he said.

“When we imitate her faith and follow her example, we too can bring Christ into this passing world,” writes Bishop Jenky.

A strength of the Rosary is its accessibility, said the bishop.

“You can pray the Rosary in churches and cathedrals, in the city or the country, at home, in cars, trains, subways, boats or planes,” he writes. “The healthy and the sick can pray the Rosary. Both the young and the old can pray the Rosary, but sometimes near the end of life, the Rosary may be the only prayer some folks are still able to pray.”

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