Sermon for the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary Commemorating the 19th Sunday after Pentecost – October 7, 2012 by Father Stephen Galambos
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
Dear Faithful, every good gift comes from above, said St. James, who has written a letter, and it is included in our New Testament. Every good gift comes from above. The mystery of Mary is one of those gifts. Very little is known about Mary, except those things that have been written down in the gospels. Jesus said that the Holy Ghost who is also a gift from above, a gift of Father and the Son, will teach you all things you need to know. Because, at one time Our Lord said to the apostles, “There are many things I would need to impart to you and you need to know, but you are not ready for it yet. But, the Holy Spirit, the Father and I will guide you to all the truths you need to know.” Mary is one of those mysteries, one of those things we need to know, get to know. And the Church, throughout the past two thousand years gradually has been unfolding the mystery of the Blessed Virgin Mary. And I heard a wonderful reading today out of the book of proverbs that the Church uses for these feasts like that of today, where Mary is identified and associated closely with the spirit of God. The author is writing about wisdom.
We know, as St. Paul says in one of his letters, that the power and wisdom of God is the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Himself. And, yet, Jesus, before He became one of us, a man, a human being, God, person, taking on human nature, becomes identified as a man and lives among us. And it was Mary who ushered Jesus into our presence. Today, in the gospel, you heard, how the conception of Jesus took place. The mighty angel of God, Gabriel, which means the power of God — that’s where the word Gabriel — the last part of the “el” is referring to Elohim, the name of God, the Lord. The power of the Lord is the name for Gabriel, and it was this power, this spirit, an angel — we talked about this last Sunday at Northridge, angels are only a small part of the myriad number of the spirits of God. Angel only means messengers.
In this particular case, Gabriel was acting as a messenger, so he probably can be called Angel Gabriel because at this particular event of greeting Mary, bringing the news to her from Almighty God, is the messenger’s role that Gabriel was entrusted with. But Gabriel is much more than just a messenger, just an angel. He is called often Archangel, one of the greatest of angels that Revelation has shared with us. And the message of Gabriel is immense. Mary was baffled by the greeting. “Ave” is a greeting that emperors received, and Mary is more than an empress in the eyes of God. Mary was learning who she was. She didn’t know who she was. It was revealed to her for the first time in her own hearing as Mary heard that salutation. Mary is a great mystery we are still learning about, the Church is learning about, as Jesus has promised, will be unfolded as time goes on. For those of you who know Fatima, know what happened at Fatima, every consecutive 13th day of the month, from May until October, she, on schedule, appeared as she told she would. And the last time when she appeared publicly, now revealing the miracle to all those present, there were about 75- to 100,000 people there, God showed, through Mary, a great miracle, the power of God. The universe was involved, the sun has taken its’ place, and it appeared coming crashing down on the earth, with lights of many colors for minutes, stupefying those who were present. They feared for the last day of the world. And atheists and agnostics and those who didn’t believe were present to prove everything was a hoax, and they went back to Lisbon reporting it was not a hoax. We have seen it. And they had photographs of the people kneeling in the mud, because the night before it was soaking the earth, yet, after the miracle, everyone was clean, their dresses, their clothes were as if they were washed and ironed fresh. If that’s not a miracle, I don’t know what it would be.
But, anyway, God honored Mary. We don’t know why and how Mary in the fullness of the mystery, is treated for this and for all the other things that she is honored by God with. The gospel reveals to us that she is going to conceive by the power of God, not by another man, but by the power of God, a man is born. His name would be referred to by the angels’ choice, passing on the message of the Father, Jesus, which means God saves. That’s what the name of Jesus means, God saves. That’s why Jesus is a Savior of mankind. Those who listen to Him, the Father said on Mount Tabor to the three privileged disciples, “Listen to Him.”
Jesus is the fullness of the revelation of God, but Mary is the one who ushers Our Lord into our presence. Now Mary was also a gift, as you know by reading faithfully your gospels. St. John, the beloved disciple, records it. He is there, eyewitness at the death of Jesus. And it gives us an account of who was there. He counts the three different Marys, including the Mother of Jesus. And, at one point, as the last act of Our Savior on this planet, is, before He dies, He turns to John and says, “Behold your Mother”. The Church recognizes that in that statement, Our Lord is entrusting the faithful, those who believe, those who are baptized into the life of God at baptism when the Holy Spirit is rushing into our souls. St. Paul tells us in Romans 5:5, the love of God, the spirit of God has been given to us, the same Holy Spirit that made Jesus’ birth possible to Mary.
So, every one of us born of God by the power of God in baptism, we are associated with the spirit of God, and God takes residence in our soul. That is why we are asked to keep the grace in our soul until our death, because without it no one goes to heaven.
So, we are likened to Mary. The power of God has entered her, giving birth and conception possible, in the name of the Trinity, in the second person of the Trinity, which is Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in Mary. And Jesus reminds us, actually for the first time He reveals it. We didn’t know, the apostles didn’t know, that Mary was their Mother, and, yet, that is what Jesus announces as His last act before He dies. What stupendous importance that must be that Our Lord saved this for the last act, on the cross, He said that. The cross is the witness to that. “Behold your Mother”. So, Mary, in a great mystery of God, is your and my Mother.
Four hundred forty-one years ago today, 1571, the Islam was pressing on Europe, and the people were fearful they will be massacred, killed off by the Muslims. Four hundred forty-one years ago today, October 7, 1571. Under the leadership of Pope Pius V, who became a saint, the continent was led into Rosary praying before that. And on that particular day, the wind changed, and so the fleet of the Muslims are led into confusion and caused the great victory of Lepanto.
Our Lady, the power of God, can bring about miracles. Today, we are also threatened by the Islam, a faith not from God, contrary and contradicting many of the important truths of our faith. The Divine Person of Jesus, His death on the Cross, His Resurrection, that He is the only Savior of the world. He is not a passé, or somebody to overcome with crude interference. But never mind the details.
Today, we celebrate the most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. You need to know that the prayer of the Rosary and the prayer of the Hail Mary has a history. From the third century on, they say about 383 or so, this prayer was already in existence, the first half of the salutation which is biblical, you just heard some of it. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. Blessed art thou among women. That was the first prayer of the Hail Mary. We have recorded historical documents that St. Albert in 1140, a hundred years before St. Dominic was establishing the Dominicans, already recited 50 times this prayer, and every time he repeated it, he knelt down. It has been recorded. But also know that there was a counting of prayers for those who did not know how to read. As you know, the clergy is asked to pray the psalms, 150 psalms, 3 times 50, that became later on attached to the Rosary. But, first, the ancient Rosary that we have was called the Pater Noster because the Our Father was recited 50 times. That was the first form of the Rosary that we have today. Fifty Pater Nosters, fifty Our Fathers for each bead, fifty. Later on this was changed and they used an Our Father between the ten, ten, ten, ten, ten Hail Mary’s, the five tens. And it was later that they added the second half of the prayer, Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. That was added later.
You need to know regarding the mysteries of Mary, that in the litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the thirty-seventh salutation of Mary, is Mary Help of Christians. This was added by the Church. In 1883, Pope Leo XIII added the title, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, as the forty-first salutation, designation in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the litany. Pope St. Pius X already in 1571, established the title, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, which became part of our tradition, and the Church, by the power of God and revelation of God leads the Church on and allows us to share the knowledge, the beauty, the holiness, and the grace of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by reciting the Hail Mary, as the angel revealed to Mary. So, who are we not to honor Mary when one of the greatest angels of God so honors her in the salutation, which is found in the gospel of St. Luke. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with Thee. We know from the gospels that every time, those few times that Mary interceded, Our Lord turned and honored her will. We have a miracle at the wedding of Cana that was performed by Our Lord because of Mary’s intercession. So, we have a great tradition, and we thank God for this wonderful gift that is bestowed upon us in Mary. She is our Mother. Let us gratefully offer to God the sacrifice of Our Lord for God’s great love for us. He gave us Mary, whom Jesus said God wishes to honor next to Me. That’s a revelation of Fatima. The Lord said, “I want the faithful to honor her next to Me”.
And what a great mystery is awaiting us to share in the grace that Mary wants to share next to her. So let us imitate her virtues of purity, obedience, the poverty that Our Lord is asking of us, poor in spirit, not haughty, not proud, but humble, because only those will enter God’s presence in heaven. So, let us pray on our knees daily the Rosary that Our Lady may find us worth looking at, not because of anything we do, but because of the goodness and the mercy and grace of God Himself. But Mary is helping us that we might be so found. So, let us honor her by daily honoring her with the Rosary. Pray for the conversion of sinners and forgive those who offend us, that we pray for them as Jesus prayed for those who persecuted Him. Even as He asks you and I myself the example, pray for those who will ill against us. Let us not hold it back against them. Forgive them. As Jesus said, “They don’t know what they do”.
So, let us be generous as Mary was, bending backwards for each one of us, and be grateful to her that she was so obedient, as her Son. “Not my will, but Thine be done, Father. Let us all kneel before Our Lord, the Blessed Trinity, as Mary did, and even as Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane, accepting the sacrifice that we commemorate at each Mass. Let it be an example for every day of our lives, following Our Lord Jesus and the example of Mary.
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.