Essays/Articles and Scriptural Studies


For our weekly meditation on the Collects of the Roman Missal, we consider the Collect of today’s feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary (Missale Romanum 1962). This Collect is one that almost all Latin Catholics can recite for memory, because it normally concludes one’s recitation of the Rosary. It deserves special attention, lest we miss its richness through habitual recitation. The following translation of this Collect is taken from the Angelus Press edition of the Roman Catholic Daily Missal:

“O God, Whose only-begotten Son by His life, death, and resurrection, purchased for us the rewards of eternal life: grant, we beseech Thee, that, meditating upon these mysteries of the most holy Rosary of the blessed Virgin Mary, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise. Through the same our Lord, etc. Amen.”

The ascription clause summarizes the chief meditative content of the Rosary prayer: the mysteries of Christ’s wondrous life and His supreme Paschal Mystery (His Death and Resurrection). The Church’s sense of “mystery” here is that of a divine, historical event which transcends human understanding, in which God reveals Himself in Christ and confers grace on man. We cannot understand these mysteries fully, but by the gift of faith, we can understand them in part, and we can certainly “apprehend” their content by the grace of the Sacraments and through prayer (cf. Peter Kreeft, Catholic Christianity, p. 36; cf. Bl. Columba Marmion, O.S.B., Christ in His Mysteries, 12). 

In addition to the life of Christ, the Rosary allows us to meditate on the life of Mary, for she is the one human being who is most closely united to Christ’s mysteries. Put simply, since Christ’s saving mysteries indispensably involve Mary, our salvation necessarily involves Mary. The following syllogism proposes the Church’s unapologetic teaching about Mary (and the Church herself), which our Collect implies:

A) Anyone who is saved, is saved by Christ.
B) Christ has saved and continues to save the world through His Church and through Mary [terms A and B are simply the data of divine revelation].
C) Thus, anyone who is saved, is saved through the Church and through Mary.

In view of this, we consider the Collect’s petition clause. We ask God that we may imitate the contents of the mysteries and also obtain their promises (a dual petition, which also functions as a hoped-for outcome). In other words, we are asking God that our own life-stories will participate in the mysteries of Christ and Mary ever more closely. It is not only about moral imitation, but also about receiving the graces contained in each divine event. The Church teaches that the latter is the precondition for the former, for it is the reception of these graces - especially through the Church’s Sacraments - but also through prayer, that will enable us to imitate Our Lord and Our Lady.

Since the Rosary is about being interiorly formed into the likeness of Christ through Mary, we hope to receive the benefits of their joint redemptive work, namely, eternal life. Praying the Rosary authentically, therefore, is an act of hope directed toward our eternal salvation. Additionally, even as it directs us toward final Beatitude, the Rosary simultaneously brings the graces of the mysteries into all the circumstances of our present moment. Meditating on the timeless mysteries of Jesus and Mary means that we can orient all of these elements of our daily life, both the sublime and the mundane, to the joy of heaven.  

The Collect’s crucial motive clause - “meditating upon these mysteries” - implies that a life of devotion is critical in nurturing our faith. Maintaining a prayer life requires discipline, but the joy of this discipline is that there is always more treasure to uncover where the mysteries of faith are concerned. With time, humility, persistence, and faith, Jesus and Mary will lead us to a deeper understanding of and conformity to the will of God and the wonders of his grace and providence.  

(David Allen)

Mr. David Allen, M.T.S., is the lay Pastoral Associate for our parish of Mary Immaculate of Lourdes.


About Our Parish

Mary Immaculate of Lourdes is Newton and Needham Massachusetts's oldest Roman Catholic Parish. Founded as Saint Mary's Parish in 1870 it was renamed "Mary Immaculate of Lourdes" when the new Church was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1910. In addition to being a regular territorial parish of the Archdiocese of Boston it is also a "Mission Parish" since 2007 with a special apostolate for the Traditional Latin Mass (1962 Missal).

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