Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, how fitting to continue pondering Pope St. John Paul II’s Apostolic Letter, “On the Most Holy Rosary”:
October 2002 – October 2003: The Year of the Rosary
- Therefore, in continuity with my reflection in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, in which, after the experience of the Jubilee, I invited the people of God to “start afresh from Christ”, I have felt drawn to offer a reflection on the Rosary, as a kind of Marian complement to that Letter and an exhortation to **contemplate the face of Christ in union with, and at the school of, his Most Holy Mother.**To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ. As a way of highlighting this invitation, prompted by the forthcoming 120th anniversary of the aforementioned Encyclical of Leo XIII, I desire that during the course of this year the Rosary should be especially emphasized and promoted in the various Christian communities. I therefore proclaim the year from October 2002 to October 2003 the Year of the Rosary.
I leave this pastoral proposal to the initiative of each ecclesial community. It is not my intention to encumber but rather to complete and consolidate pastoral programmes of the Particular Churches. I am confident that the proposal will find a ready and generous reception. The Rosary, reclaimed in its full meaning, goes to the very heart of Christian life; it offers a familiar yet fruitful spiritual and educational opportunity for personal contemplation, the formation of the People of God, and the new evangelization. I am pleased to reaffirm this also in the joyful remembrance of another anniversary: the fortieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council on October 11, 1962, the “great grace” disposed by the Spirit of God for the Church in our time.
The request of Our Lady at Fatima, 100 years ago comes to mind. Mary asked the three shepherd children to pray the Rosary and World War I soon ended but she also told them if people did not stop sinning another more terrible war would occur. Today is the Anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor which brought the USA into war with Japan. Many Rosaries have been prayed in the past but there has been a decline in devotion to Mary and a decline in the number of people who pray the Rosary. May God in His Mercy renew us to “start afresh”.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of Your Faithful; kindle in us the Fire of Your Love.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Jesus we trust in You!