|In this screen grab from the USCCB live stream, Pope Francis places a rosary in the hands of a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary while celebrating Mass at the Basilica of the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, Sept. 23. The month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary and the Blessed Mother.
My Dear People of God,
The gestures were simple and direct.
When Pope Francis entered St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington to celebrate Midday Prayer with the bishops of the United States, his first act was to place a bouquet of white flowers at the chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Later in the day and following the Mass at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis placed a rosary in the folded hands of a statue of Mary.
The coming month of October is dedicated to Our Lady. In a special way, our devotional life is drawn to the recitation of the rosary.
Praying the rosary invites us to reflect upon the mighty works of God associated with his plan for our redemption.
Two moments specifically related to the Blessed Mother herself and her response to the unique gift of grace given to her is worth reflecting upon. They point us in the direction of what Jesus teaches us are the greatest commandments: love of God and love of neighbor.
On love of God, the immediate response of Our Lady to the message of the Archangel Gabriel is the powerful prayer of praise called the Magnificat: “My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord. My spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” This exultation of God is Mary’s response to the gift of God’s grace, his love, and captures what Pope Francis is calling from us by way of being witnesses to the joy of the Gospel.
On love of neighbor, realizing her own state of blessedness, Mary immediately sets out to encounter Elizabeth, who herself is favored by God’s grace. Her years of childlessness, her disappointment over a desire unfulfilled, gives way to the power of God’s love for her. She becomes the mother of John the Baptist, the herald of humanity’s Redeemer. Mary is there to assist her and rejoice with her.
These two women exemplify the life-giving grace of God at work. They rejoice in the lives they carry.
We are in the beginning days of “40 Days for Life.” I encourage us all to observe the upcoming month of October, which is dedicated to the Blessed Mother and the devotion of the Holy Rosary, as a time to pray for an end to abortion and to pray for those who continue to suffer from its effects.
Wishing you every blessing, I am
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend David R. Choby
Bishop of Nashville