‘Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus.’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2715.) The Rosary is geared towards this gazing; its focus is this intimate eye contact with the Lord. ‘Your face, Lord, do I seek’ (Psalm 27:8). This face-to-face transforms us. As St. Paul puts it, ‘transformed into the same image.’ This means being changed by the One whose gaze meets ours in these mysteries. This beholding entails becoming; the outcome of this looking is likeness. Such is the path of conversion traced by the Rosary.
Our eyes are openings, letting us out and others in. They are the route that revelation takes. Looking deeply means letting down our guard. What we pay attention to has the potential to move our minds, to motivate our decision-making and to drive forward what we actually do – that is the grace of this great prayer. We are converted by what catches our eye – that is what we hope for from the Rosary and why we are invited to mine its mysteries with ‘generous eyes’. (John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 40.)
Just as the hub of each Hail Mary is the name of Jesus, so he is the centre of gravity of this ‘exquisitely contemplative prayer’. (John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 12.) In his life, death and Resurrection the Lord Jesus traces the contours of true love. And he embodies it for our imagination. The Rosary’s concluding prayer expresses the ultimate objective of these mysteries; ‘that we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise.’ Jesus himself is the One these meditations invite us to imitate. And Jesus is the One they promise we shall ultimately obtain.
May our minds and hearts be shaped by these mysteries as they steep us in the Gospel stories. May this evangelical prayer help us to sustain
this eye contact with the Lord, always deepening our relationship with him. In this gazing may we be ‘entranced by the beauty of the Redeemer.’ (John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 9.) With our eyes fastened on him, may we gradually become what we behold.
(from the booklet, “A New Illustrated Rosary” )
Canon John Udris
Diocese of Northampton