by Brother John M. Samaha, S.M.
At Fatima, as at Lourdes before, Our Lady prayed the rosary with the seers and taught them how to do so devoutly.
Consider the rosary as a catechetical tool. This thought arises from many bishops and lay catechists and all the religious and lay educator groups in between.
Religious educators and parents often comment that many today – youth and adults – are lacking in Christian formation. A certain religious illiteracy has infiltrated the family, school, and society in general. Children especially lack a strong basic understanding of fundamentals of our faith and of how to pray. The challenge is clear for catechists at all age levels. In addition, we must remember that faith and virtue are caught more than taught. We must model what we teach. We must echo Christ; resound faith, hope, and charity by walking the talk.
Catechists and parents often seek new methods, programs, and books of religious instruction, and we are at a loss for knowing any. But one sure-fired and time-tested method is centuries old, tried and true, and easy to handle – the rosary.
If youngsters and adults learn the rosary, they are learning the basics of the Christian faith as well as learning how to pray. They would know from memory the Apostles’ Creed, the Our Father, the Hail Mary, and the Glory Be – the latter three lifted literally from the Gospel. By praying the rosary they would be reviewing the fundamental truths handed on by Jesus and practicing the art of praying. By teaching the rosary we help others to learn that prayer is simple, Biblical, done in union with our Mother Mary, and leads us to become absorbed in the mysteries of the life of Christ and of salvation history.
To know how to pray the twenty mysteries of the rosary means that we know the basics about the life of Jesus and his teachings – his life, passion, death, resurrection, and ascension; the meaning of Jesus’ Incarnation and Redemption. This challenges us to ponder what these mysteries mean for us today. In reality the rosary is a compendium of the Gospel; it is the Gospel strung on beads.
The rosary is not a panacea; it does not solve all the challenges of catechesis and faith formation. But it is one effective catechetical tool for teaching and praying. In the past noted saints and teachers have utilized it successfully. It worked for St. Dominic and his companions in combating the Albigensian heresy in his day.
Let’s try again.