The month of October is designated by the Church as the month of the Most Holy Rosary. During this month, Catholics are called to delve deeper into the mysteries of our redemption that are contained in this ancient prayer and, by meditating on each mystery, we are called to imitate that which we contemplate. While this is certainly true for all Catholics who call out to Our Lady through this powerful prayer, this is especially relevant in the life and calling of a seminarian.
In many ways, each mystery which tells the story of the lives of Jesus and Mary also tells a parallel story of the seminarian’s journey. In the Joyful Mysteries, the Annunciation of the Angel’s message to Mary can very well mirror the initial call of the seminarian. A message of great joy is met with wonder and curiosity but is ultimately responded to with a “yes,” trusting in the will of God and His call for our lives. Like John the Baptist in the womb of Elizabeth, we leap with joy at this new closeness we have with the same Christ we are called to proclaim. We come in haste with the shepherds and the Magi to the place where He rests to give of the treasure of our very selves. We take comfort at the great promises fulfilled but also take heed of the warnings which those who have trod before give as Mary was docile to Simeon’s prophecy. And when we lose our original zeal, we search for Christ tirelessly with our brothers, our formators and our spiritual directors as Mary and Joseph went in search for the missing Christ Child.
In contemplating the Luminous Mysteries, we seek to be an example for others in doing what we call others to do as Christ did when He, the sinless one, approached John to be baptized in the Jordan. We hear the pleas of others as Christ did in listening to His Mother at Cana in hopes that, one day, we too will be able to bring to Christ the concerns of others through our priestly union with Him. We desire to proclaim the Kingdom of God to others and so be lifted up to be illuminated in glory as Christ was at the Transfiguration. And then, there is the great desire, to call upon the Lord Himself to become our very nourishment in the changing of the bread and wine into His own living Body and Blood.
With that great gift in mind, we are also aware of the crosses that lie ahead and which are embodied in the Sorrowful Mysteries. There are the difficult days in which the seminarian is bogged down with work, with reality, with uncertainty that, like Christ, we ask the Father to let the cup pass from us, only to once again say “yes” to His will. There is the humility to accept the correction of others, forcing us to cast aside things that we may treasure as Christ rendered His own flesh to the whips for our salvation. Our successes may at times come painfully, with the crown placed on our heads radiant with joy but penetrated with the sharpness of hard work and perseverance. It is that perseverance that makes us rise up from our weakness time and time again and pick up our cross with Christ and to comfort and care for others, in spite of our own trials. It is in renewing our “yes” to the vocation daily that we can give of ourselves freely, completely and unconditionally as the Savior did when He stretched out His arms on the Cross and surrendered His spirit to the Father.
And yet, all of these sacrifices and labors point to the joys that lie ahead, the fulfillment that comes from its works…the glory of its mysteries! We rise up, as Christ did that Easter morning, fulfilled and determined, more than ever, to proclaim the Good News to all. We have hope that, after our labors, we may enjoy the reward which Christ ascended into Heaven to prepare. Like Peter on that first Pentecost, we open our minds and hearts to the Holy Spirit who will inspire us to persevere in our work and guide us in our ministry. And just as our story began with the generous consent with Our Blessed Mother, so to do we look to her to teach us to be faithful in our own vocations so that we may one day enjoy the glory to which she was assumed and now enjoys and be crowned with the victory of joy in the Lord’s presence forever.
The mysteries of the Holy Rosary contain the treasures of the life of Christ and Our Blessed Lady. Yes, a seminarian’s life can be found hidden within their mysteries, but so too can all of our stories be put into perspective in the context of the two blessed lives. Pray the rosary. Pray it devoutly for the Church, for you and your loved ones, and for our clergy and seminarians so that, by meditating upon these mysteries, we may imitate what they contain and obtain what they promise.