A reflection by Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL
This month we celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on October 6. The whole month of October is dedicated in a special way to the prayer of the Rosary. After the Divine Liturgy, the Rosary is my favorite prayer.
Over the centuries, the Rosary has come to be known as the greatest Marian devotion of our times. We can think of countless saints, among them our own Maronite saints like St. Sharbel and Nimatallah El-Hardini, who loved praying the Rosary.
We’re very blessed as sisters in the Convent to have prayer time each day where we can offer a Rosary.
So what is it about the Rosary that makes it the special and powerful prayer that it is? Many people have often got the wrong idea about the Rosary. I’ve heard it countless times, Sister, how can you sit there and just say Hail Mary, after Hail Mary, don’t you get bored? Shouldn’t you just go straight to Jesus, why do you need to pray the Rosary, it’s a waste of time?
Unfortunately, misconceptions over time have tainted the true meaning and power of the Rosary. The Rosary is fundamentally a Christ-centred prayer. As St. John Paul II in his Letter on the Rosary, “one thing is clear although the repeated Hail Mary is addressed directly to Mary, it is to Jesus that this act of love is ultimately directed, with Mary and through Mary.”
Mary lived with her eyes fixed on Christ, not on herself, treasuring his every word. Pope John Paul II says again, “Mary’s contemplation is above all a remembering. In the recitation of the Rosary we enter into contact with the memories of Mary.”
The rosary is a contemplative prayer. What do I mean by that? I mean that we are using our imaginative and mental powers to reflect on the various scenes of Jesus’ life. Without this contemplative dimension the Rosary loses its meaning and runs the risk of becoming mechanical, repetitive, and yes, boring.
A little about how we recite the Rosary, there are 4 main prayers that comprise the Rosary (the Apostles Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be). A Decade is one Father and 10 Hail Mary’s. There are 5 decades in each Rosary and we are focusing on the scenes of each mystery. Briefly, there are 4 sets of mysteries, the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious. Each mystery captures different scenes in Jesus’ life.
The Rosary is both contemplation and petition, where we are asking Our Lady to intercede for those intentions we bring to her. Mary can obtain all things from the heart of her Son. To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and his mother.
For me, there is no way I could live without the Rosary. I pray the Rosary every day and I can’t tell you how profoundly I have experienced the presence of the Blessed Mother each time I recite a Rosary. There is nothing that I have ever, ever handed over to her by means of the Rosary where I haven’t received a response. When you ask of the Blessed Mother, don’t be afraid to ask too much, because she is very generous.
The Rosary is the means not only of contemplating the beauty of the face of Christ, but the greatest weapon against the assaults of the evil one. The evil one hates the Rosary, he shudders with fear with each ‘Hail Mary’ and after the name of Jesus, there is no other name he fears more than the name of ‘Mary’.
So let us go to our mother, by means of the Rosary, she is waiting for us with open arms, and is only to eager to embrace us to herself and lead us to her Son.
For how to pray the Rosary visit: Rosarycenter.org
By Sr. Natalie Sayde Salameh, MSCL
Sr. Therese Maria and myself returned this week from the National MYA Workshop, which was held in San Antonio, Texas from October 4-6, and gathered over 80 young adults from across the country. This year’s Workshop took place at an excellent retreat center, T Bar M, surrounded by the beauty and serenity of nature.
We were blessed with the presence of both Bishops, Bishop Gregory Mansour from the Eparchy of St. Maron and Bishop Elias Zaidan from the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon, Los Angeles.
The theme for this year’s Workshop was “Leading by Example” and all the speakers touched upon the importance of having a servant-leadership heart following the example of Christ.
We were honored to have a guest speaker, Mr. Joe Farris, a vibrant and authentic national Catholic speaker, from Cincinnati, Ohio. Joe’s message was a powerful one of how he encountered Christ in his life, and how we can encounter Christ in our lives.
By the end of Joe’s first talk in the morning, he had me in tears, and many of the young adults were moved by his powerful personal testimony; his radical love for Christ; and how he was able to faithfully proclaim that Christ had never failed him in his life.
With the presence of both bishops among us for the whole weekend, including a number of clergy, we experienced the wonderful power of prayer and grace in the Divine Liturgies celebrated, in Eucharistic adoration and prayer, and in confession.
On a personal note, I have been to many MYA Workshops, but this one was the very best that I have attended. I truly felt that Jesus was so powerfully present among us, and that the young adults were serious about encountering the Lord, and they did. They came with open hearts and Christ did not disappoint.
During our small group sessions, the young adults opened up beautifully about their worries, doubts, fears, restlessness and yearnings. I was deeply moved by this.
I heard great feedback from a number of young adults who said that they greatly appreciated the new format of the Workshop, that is, of having it in a retreat setting rather than a hotel as in times past. They said they appreciated the down time and getting away from the constant busyness of their everyday lives to be with the Lord and with one another. Great friendships were established and strong bonds were forged. Praise God!
A big thankyou to Fr. Tony Massad, Sr. Therese Maria and the entire MYA Board for putting together this truly wonderful event.
I am so happy to be starting my new life as a Maronite Servant of Christ the Light postulant. Our greatest calling in any vocation is to love, as Saint Teresa of Calcutta says “the fruit of love is service.” It is with great joy and honor that I start this incredible journey of serving God through serving you.
Growing up in the United States I have seen a need for Maronite religious sisters. I have been attracted to this congregation for quit some time (around seven years). I have enjoyed going on spiritual retreats hosted by the sisters, and volunteering in their various ministries such the summer Bible camp, visiting the elderly, attending wedding and funeral services and much more. The sisters are involved in the lives of the parishioners and they accompany them in their journey of faith. We laugh, cry and grow with you and with one another. I look forward to serving you and living a life of prayer and service along side such wonderful sisters.”