TO JESUS THROUGH MARY
Rev. Herbert C. de Launay
(On the appropriateness of the Rosary during Eucharistic Exposition)
"To Jesus through Mary" has been an often repeated phrase of devotional writers and preachers. It is also the title of a small booklet of Eucharistic meditations on the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary published by Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration.
Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles, provided the foreword to this booklet. He wrote: "By linking our prayer through Mary to our adoration of Jesus in the most Blessed Sacrament, we have been given a new and spiritually rich avenue to Christ through His Mother."
Throughout the centuries Catholic writers have shown how devotion to Mary can lead us closer to Jesus. Unfortunately, from time to time we find others misunderstanding this point. Just recently a Catholic publication expressed the opinion that the rosary was not an appropriate prayer before the Blessed Sacrament. This opinion said that the rosary was a Marian prayer and that prayer before the Blessed Sacrament should focus on Jesus alone. (See USCC publication "Solemn Exposition of the Holy Eucharist," number 11 in the Liturgy Documentary Series, page 16.)
Cardinal Mahony's words express the more traditional understanding of devotion to Mary and the saints. True devotion to Mary and saints leads us closer to Jesus. True devotion does not in any way impede our focus on Jesus. As Cardinal Mahony noted further: "Everyone who prays the Rosary with these Scriptural reflections and prayers will be drawn more intimately into the full Paschal Mystery of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."
The Rosary is a way of reflecting on Christ. Paragraph 2708 of the Catechism notes: "Christian prayer tries above all to meditate on the mysteries of Christ, as in lectio divina or the rosary."
The Mass is a model for us in this regard. The Mass focuses on Jesus. He is the Word of God Who speaks to us through the Liturgy of the Word. He is the Bread of Life, truly present upon the altar. As has been noted: "The celebration of the Eucharist in the sacrifice of the Mass is truly the origin and purpose of the worship that is shown to the Eucharist outside Mass."
The Church provides us with many examples of devotion to Mary and the saints in the Mass. The Roman Missal contains many prayers in honor of Mary and the saints. The eucharistic prayers make mention of Mary and the saints. A study of the Missal shows us that devotion to Mary and the saints does not lessen or confuse our worship of Jesus, our Eucharistic Lord. (Note too paragraph 1161 of the Catechism.)
Let us also ask the question: "How do we meditate on Jesus?" On the one hand, it is true that we can look at Jesus, or any individual person, in isolation. However, we most often study people in their relations to others. If I were studying a man, I could look at his vital statistics. I could talk about weight, intelligence, education, ability, strength, and so on. However, it might be much more important to study how he relates to those around him. How is he as a husband and father? How is he as a worker, employee, or supervisor?
Similarly, we do not meditate on Jesus only in isolation. We study Jesus in His relationships. He is the Son of God. The gospels reveal to us the depth, warmth, closeness, and love in that relationship. Jesus invites us to share that relationship. The gospels also reveal Jesus in relationship to others. We see Jesus in a family, the Holy Family. We see Him with the apostles. We see Him with the suffering and with sinners.
It is important to study Jesus in relationships. As see Jesus in relationships with others, we come to an awareness of the relationship He wants to have with us. We also grow in awareness of the relationships He wants us to have with others. Since all of us are part of family groups, it is appropriate to consider Jesus' family relationships. (One recent book that does this is "Joseph, Mary, Jesus," by Fr. Lucien Deiss, from The Liturgical Press, 1996.)
In a recent meeting, Bishop Edward O'Donnell of the Diocese of Lafayette spoke of the importance of sensitivity to women's issues. In this regard, it is appropriate to remember the women in the life of Jesus. This was also addressed in the Holy Father's letter to priests on Holy Thursday 1995. Since most women become mothers, and since all of us have mothers, it is important to study Jesus' relationship with His mother Mary. We look to Jesus as a role model in our relationships with women. We ask Him to heal whatever may need healing in our relationships with women.
The booklet, "To Jesus through Mary, " is published by Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration. The Association of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration has been officially recognized by the Pontifical Council for the Laity which has approved its statutes. For copies of the booklet, "To Jesus through Mary," or their handbook, "Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration," or for information on their newsletter please contact: Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, Inc., PO Box 84595, Los Angeles, CA 90073; phone: 310-273-3856; FAX: 310-278-3021.
An article for the September 1996 edition of The Acadiana Catholic, monthly newspaper of the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana