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Jesus, Our Salvation

God’s desire and the purpose of all His actions in our life is that we share in His Interior Life, beginning now in this life and coming to its fullness after death when we enter fully into eternity. This Interior Life of God is the eternal relation of Infinite Love between the Father and the Son. This is the aspect of our existence that we were created for, but that we lack, and that we cannot obtain on our own. Only by God’s action can we enter into this Life for which we were created. We must be “saved”.

To draw us into this Life, He has sent His Son to take on our humanity, so that we might humanly draw into a union of love with Jesus in all the circumstances of our life. This union of Love is formed in as many ways as there are conditions of human life, and in as many circumstances as the human heart can find itself. God’s Son is also His Word, and by His Word becoming human, God speaks to us by the human life of Jesus. Jesus’ Life speaks a voice to each one of us, a voice of profound and deeply personal Love. And from his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace. (Jn 1:16)

The result of this union of Love is a union with Jesus’ divinity, with His Father and the Holy Spirit. Our union of Love with Jesus brings us into the Interior Life of God. “I in them and you in me.” (Jn 17:23) Jesus “saves.”

So, what actually happens if we really accept this invitation to union with Jesus? We are filled with His Spirit, and our life becomes livelier and fuller. We begin to experience God’s real presence as a tender and powerful Father of love, and we begin to really live with Him. We receive more and more His own strength and character. Fears and insecurities that have held us back from becoming all we can be melt away, or fall in an instant. Our relationships become healthier and more satisfying. With His strength inside of us, we learn to be gentle and patient and generous, and to sacrifice for love. We seek the better things in life because we have hope to obtain them, and we set longer-term goals. Life becomes more deeply satisfying, and more and more, our life resembles Jesus’ Life, not in its specific outward activities, but in its spirit – in our interior ways of thinking and understanding and acting and loving. Our relationship toward God and our neighbor becomes just like His. In fact, it really is His, living inside of us by way of love. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (Jn 1:12-13)

So where do we find an invitation to this union with Jesus and how do we accept it?

Mary, Jesus’ Mother and Our Mother

At the foot of Jesus’ Cross, He gave His mother Mary and the beloved disciple to each other as mother and son. When Jesus saw his mother, and the disciple whom he loved standing near, he said to his mother, "Woman, behold, your son!" Then he said to the disciple, "Behold, your mother!" And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home. (Jn 19:26-27) Since then, every beloved disciple, everyone who desires to follow Jesus, shares in this identity as son or daughter of Mary. In this moment of her Son’s crucifixion, Mary became the mother of the whole Church in addition to being the mother of Jesus.

St. Paul later writes that one way to understand the Church – the communion of disciples of Jesus – is as though there is a whole Christ, and that the whole Christ has a head and a body, and that Jesus is the head and the Church is the body. Jesus and His Church together make up the whole Christ. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 795, St. Augustine: “Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man.... the fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does "head and members" mean? Christ and the Church.”)

So, at the foot of the Cross, Mary became the mother of the whole Christ: Jesus and the Church. Since she is mother to both, both are conceived by God in her and both are nurtured and raised with her motherly cooperation and care.

The Holy Spirit formed Jesus with the cooperation of Mary. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Lk 1:35) He forms the whole Christ in the same way, and so He also forms the Church – and every individual disciple – with the cooperation of Mary. She is the mother of every disciple’s union with Jesus. She is the mother of the Life that comes into our souls when we are united to Jesus. She is the mother who nurtures and develops the growth of this Life, since it is Jesus Himself inside of us.

Since our union with Jesus is conceived in her, it is of the highest value to her. Mary cherishes our union with Jesus with all her being. She cherishes Jesus’ Life in our souls in the same way she cherished His Life in her womb. Her specific mission in heaven as Mother of Jesus and Mother of the Church is to do everything in her power to bring it to its fullness. So great is her love, that she wants to give us her very own union with Jesus! She calls out to us to receive her motherly care and love, to receive what is in her own heart. In cooperation with God, she takes us under her wing, sets us up with what our souls need, and asks that we be like her in receiving God’s Word, in allowing His Word to live inside of us. She shows us how to relate to Jesus as she does, how to love Him and how to let Him lead as she does.

The Rosary

Mary has given us a special instrument to help us in this: the Rosary. The Rosary is Mary’s utmost expression of her motherly love, because by our praying of the Rosary she desires to actively give us her very own union with Jesus. Attached to the Rosary are Mary’s personal memories of the intimate mysteries of the life that she and her Son shared. But Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart. (Lk 2:19) They are a number of the mysteries contained in the Gospels. When we pray the Rosary, she opens these mysteries to us for us to enter into with our minds and hearts. When we meditate receptively on these mysteries, then her memories of the Life of Jesus reach down through our minds and into our hearts with love, and when they find a correspondence with some events of our own life, then we are actually bound to God Himself with Mary and like her. We receive a share in Mary’s very own union of love with Jesus! JEROME KILEY, Boston, MA, U.S.A.

Specifically on the Rosary: the Rosary has been called by many popes and theologians as the perfect school of contemplation. It is the most effective and most perfect way to deepen your life of prayer, to grow in understanding of the Gospel and in love for Christ. And it is extremely simple. To pray the Rosary completely would take no more than perhaps half an hour – depending on how quickly you recite the different prayers. But if you don't have that amount of time to set aside all at once, you can certainly just set out to pray one decade of the Rosary, and perhaps take up a decade at a time whenever you find yourself with a few minutes to spare and in need of prayer. I can assure you this practice will do wonders for your spiritual life, whether a decade at a time or being able to set aside 20-30 minutes solid to pray the full Rosary.

This is how you pray the Rosary: After making the sign of the cross, holding the crucifix at the end in your hand, you would recite the Apostle's Creed. It is a wonderful way to begin any Gospel meditation, as it ensures that your contemplation of the Gospel always remains true to orthodox belief. After the creed, on the first bead you recite an Our Father. Then on the next set of three beads you pray a Hail Mary*, asking for an increase in the three theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. You then finish the introduction with a Gloria**.

After this you move on to the meditation portion of the Rosary. The Rosary is divided up into five decades. Each decade is preceded by an Our Father and ended with a Gloria. Each decade is associated with what we refer to as a "Mystery," meaning a particular event in the life of Christ (or in two cases in the life of Mary) that are essential to our understanding of the Gospel and to salvation itself. There are four sets of five Mysteries: The Joyful Mysteries, the Luminous Mysteries, the Sorrowful Mysteries, and the Glorious Mysteries. This Vatican site details each of the Mysteries, and it may be helpful to print them out in the beginning, until you have them memorized. So for instance, the first Sorrowful Mystery is the Agony in the Garden. So when praying the Sorrowful Mysteries, after the introductory prayers, you would mentally announce the mystery, "The first Sorrowful Mystery: the Agony in the Garden," and then pray the Our Father and the ten Hail Mary's. While reciting the Hail Mary, you mentally engage the mystery of the Gospel (in this case, the Agony in the Garden), meditate on the mystery, keep it in mind. The praying of the Hail Mary repetitively helps to focus the mind and also to keep you united to Mary as you meditate on the mystery. There are also many good books that include meditations to help you in praying the Rosary. These kinds of books can be especially helpful as one starts off on this beautiful devotion.

As I said, one could simply pray one decade at a time, and so just meditate on one mystery at a time, or one can sit and pray all five of a set of mysteries. When I pray, I'd say it probably takes about 25 minutes to complete a full Rosary.

And so that's it – that's the Rosary. As I've said before, this is far and away my favorite form of prayer, and there is always a direct correlation between my fidelity to praying the Rosary and my conformity to the Gospel. As I fall away from the habit of the Rosary, I fall away from the Gospel. As I remain faithful in praying the Rosary, I become more and more conformed to the Gospel. The cause and effect relationship there is, for me, rather undeniable!!! Michael Hallman, Villanova, PA, U.S.A.

*Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the Fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

**Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.