Being Formed at the School of the Holy Rosary
Mother Adela, SCTJM
Given on October 7th, 2010, feast of Our Lady of the rosary to the seminarians at St. Vincent de Paul,
Major seminary, in Boynton Beach, Florida

For private use only


The feast of Our Lady of the Rosary was instituted by Pope Pius V to honor the Blessed Mother and the prayer of the Rosary for the miraculous Christian victory over the Turks at Lepanto on October 7, 1571.  Pope St. Pius V declared this feast to celebrate the powerful intercession and protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the power of the prayer of the rosary to obtain victories for the life of the Church.  Today, the whole Universal Church remembers, celebrates, and makes present to our hearts, the great gift of Our Lady's maternal intercession and intervention in the battles of the Church, through the simple and profound prayer of the Rosary: The Triumph of Her Immaculate and Maternal Heart in all of our battles… at the ecclesial level, family level, society level, world level, and personal level.

It is a great gift for me to have been invited to give a reflection at this Major Seminary on this Marian feast day: I feel so honored to speak to men who are preparing for
the priesthood in this house of and for formation, and on a feast day that directs our gaze to the prayer of the Holy Rosary.  Yesterday, praying for this reflection, I sensed such a deep connection between the seminary life and the Holy Rosary. I place this sense in your hearts and in the hearts of those who have been entrusted with the responsibility of forming your hearts for the sublime vocation to the priesthood, of total identification with the Heart of Christ, His sentiments, His Words, His Mysteries, His life and His mission.   The major seminary is a house, a place where you are formed to gaze at, to contemplate the Mysteries of Christ, to ponder, reflect, carefully keep in your hearts those mysteries, to form your personal “I” into a living reflection of these mysteries… to mature and to grow to become a living image of Jesus’ Priestly Heart.  The aim of this period of formation, of discipleship, as JPII taught us in the Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Pastores Dabo Vobis, n. 42, is for your hearts:

·         To develop a relationship of deep communion and intimacy with Christ. .

·         To receive a deeper catechesis, a deeper knowledge of the Teachings of Christ.

·         To learn to pray with the heart and be immersed in Jesus’ silent prayer to the Father. 

·         To learn to listen, ponder, keep and live the Word.  A Gospel like life.

·         To be ready to give the total gift of self to Jesus.

·         To be formed to be sent to share in his mission of salvation.

John Paul summarized it in one sentence The Seminary is the School of the Gospel, and I would like to present you, in this context, the prayer of the Holy Rosary as a simple yet powerful way to contribute to contemplating the Gospel, to “learning Christ”, His Life and His Words, His Heart and His Mission, so you can learn to be like Him, through the School of Our Lady's Heart.   In this process of learning Christ, I believe that praying the HR is a great instrument to accompany and to foster, this Christ-like formation.

In the Apostolic Letter on the Rosary, given by JPII to the whole Church on Oct 16, 2002, when he proclaimed the Year of the Rosary and introduced the luminous mysteries, JPII taught us that the Holy Rosary, though being Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer, that in the sobriety of its elements has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety. So it can be said that the Rosary is a “compendium of the Gospel” … quoting Paul VI.  What a beautiful connection, the Seminary is the School of the Gospel and the Rosary is the compendium of the Gospel!  The Rosary is a simple but powerful way of entering into the School of Our Lady's Heart to learn the Mysteries of Christ, to learn about Christ, to learn Christ…to know His love…  “the Christian people,” said JPII, “sits a the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love”. (n.1)

On Oct 2, 2005, Our Holy Father Benedict XVI, directing our eyes to the AL
given by his predecessor, said at the beginning of the synod on the Eucharist: “the Holy Rosary, is a unique contemplative prayer through which, guided by the Lord's heavenly Mother, we learn to fix our gaze on the face of the Redeemer in order to be conformed to his joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries”.  Since our present Holy Father has reminded us to fix our gaze, to contemplate the face of Christ as to be conformed to his mysteries, I would like to journey with you, through the powerful insights of the Apostolic Letter on the Rosary.  May this simple journey lead us to a deeper contemplation. 

JPII taught us that through the Holy Rosary , we learn:


To Contemplate Christ through Mary

RVM, 10 The contemplation of Christ has an incomparable model in Mary. In a unique way the face of the Son belongs to Mary. It was in her womb that Christ was formed, receiving from her a human resemblance which points to an even greater spiritual closeness. No one has ever devoted himself to the contemplation of the face of Christ as faithfully as Mary.

RVM, 12: The Rosary is an exquisitely contemplative prayer. Without this contemplative dimension, it would lose its meaning, as Pope Paul VI clearly pointed out: “Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of words… it empties it from its deep meaning and from its most powerful effect in our hearts…which is to communicate Christ through the heart of Mary.

“By its nature the recitation of the Rosary calls for a quiet rhythm and a lingering pace, helping the individual to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord's life as seen through the eyes of her who was closest to the Lord. In this way the unfathomable riches of these mysteries are disclosed”. Benedict XVI in Lourdes: She offers her heart and her gaze in order to contemplate the life of Her Son.

 To gaze at Christ Life with the eyes of Mary

Through the prayer of the Holy Rosary we learn to contemplate, to gaze with our hearts, to gaze with love like the Heart of Mary… we learn to gaze with her eyes.  “The eyes of her heart already turned to Him at the Annunciation…when she conceived Him by the power of the Holy Spirit…. Then through her interior gaze, in the months that followed she began to sense and live in his presence and to picture his features. When she gave birth to Him in Bethlehem, her eyes gazed tenderly on the face of Her Son, as she held him in her arms.. wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger (Lk 2:7) Mary’s gaze, ever filled with adoration and wonder, would never leave Him. We must learn to gaze with the eyes of Her Heart! Her gaze as in the presentation was one of deep silence before the mystery. At times, Our Lady, gazed at Jesus, with a questioning look, as in the episode of the finding in the Temple. She always had a penetrating gaze, capable of deeply understanding Jesus, even to the point of perceiving his hidden feeling and anticipating his decisions, as at Cana.  


Let us learn, to gaze through the eyes of Her Heart! At other times it would be a look of deep sorrow, especially beneath the Cross, where her vision would still also be filled of suffering and at the same time, that of a mother giving birth, for Mary not only shared the passion and death of her Son, she also received the new son given to Her… and in him, received us all. On the morning of Easter her eyes would be a gaze of radiant joy of the Resurrection… Life has conquered death! You must learn to gaze with the eyes of Her Heart!  And on the day of Pentecost, she gazed filled with fire, it was an ardent gaze with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit”. And, how did She gazed at the Eucharist? Can we imagine the contemplation of the Blessed Virgin Mary when the Eucharistic Jesus was elevated before Her eyes?  What must the Blessed Mother have felt as She heard from the mouth of John, Peter, James and the other Apostles the words spoken at the Last Supper:  “This is my body . . . this is my Blood” (cf. Lk 22:19-20)?  The body given up for us and made present under sacramental signs was the same body which She had conceived in Her womb!!  Can we try to understand the love and adoration of the Heart of Mary for Her Eucharistic Son?  The Son She had for nine months in Her womb…the son She held in Her arms as a child…the Son She saw on the Cross offering Himself…the dead Son She held in Her arms and later contemplated resurrected and radiant…and now, Her Son in the profound humility of the Eucharist.  How She must have kept Her heart and eyes fixed on Him!!!  And in Heaven, Our Lady keeps gazing immersed in the contemplation of the Blessed Trinity, gazing as a beloved daughter of the Father, as Mother of the Son and as a Spouse of the Holy Spirit..gazing at the Blessed Trinity and gazing at the Church, gazing at us…her children..

To ponder the memories of Christ with Mary                                                                                               

St. Luke tells us repeatedly that the Virgin Mary kept all things in her heart and even says that she did it: carefully. She pondered lovingly and carefully all things about Christ. The Blessed Mother is not only the maternal custodian of Jesus but of his words, his life, mysteries, actions and gestures. .Because she kept and pondered everything in Her Heart, Our Lady is the Marian memory of the Church (BXVI, Jesus of Nazareth, 224):  Mary's memory is first of all a retention of the events in remembrance, but it is more than that, it is an interior conversation with all that has happened.  Thanks to this inner dialogue, she penetrates into the interior dimension, she sees the events in their inter-connectedness and she learns to understand them”.  Through the Holy Rosary, we remember, Mary's memories of Jesus (n.11): “Those memories, said JPII, were to be the rosary which She recited uninterruptedly throughout her earthly life”. The rosary is the beautiful remembrance of Mary.

 Learning Christ through Mary

To enter in the School of Mary is "to put ourselves in living communion with Jesus through the heart of his Mother. (RVM, 2) The Heart of Mary is the greatest school to learn about the mysteries of Christ. Who better than her can teach us about Jesus?. !  “ Christ is the supreme Teacher, the revealer and the one revealed. It is not just a question of learning what he taught but of “learning him”. In this regard could we have any better teacher than Mary? From the divine standpoint, the Spirit is the interior teacher who leads us to the full truth of Christ (cf. Jn 14:26; 15:26; 16:13). But among creatures no one knows Christ better than Mary; no one can introduce us to a profound knowledge of his mystery better than his Mother”.  (RVM, 14)

 Being Conformed to Christ with Mary

Christian spirituality is distinguished by the disciple's commitment to become conformed ever more fully to Christ. (RVM, 15) :This process of Conformity with Christ is an essential element of your vocation as seminarians and future priests. In the spiritual journey of the Rosary, based on the constant contemplation of the Mysteries of Christ through Mary's eyes and heart, we learn to know Jesus Heart, to hear His Words, to associate deeply with his sentiments, and actions… gestures and responses… we learn his true image, we learn to be like Him. The Rosary mystically transports us to Mary's side as she is watching over and cooperating in the human growth of Christ in the home of Nazareth. This enables her to train us and to mold us with the same care, until Christ is “fully formed” in us (cf. Gal 4:19). So we can grow, as Christ in the home of Nazareth, in grace, wisdom and stature before God and men.

In order to contemplate, ponder the mysteries of Christ and be transformed and conformed to Christ, we need the experience of silence and prayer, attentive listening and a ready and loving disposition to assent and to respond, to obey… only with the proper dispositions our hearts will grow and develop a true faithful and consistent knowledge of that mystery, and a coherent response and choice of life that is according to Christ's life.

The Rosary is a pilgrimage of life… the pilgrimage of Christ and Mary…and also yours. In the School of the contemplation of the mysteries of the HR you journey through your process of formation… it is a rhythm… the birth, growth and maturation of your vocation of your personal assent to God's Will, your preparation to minister and preach the word and to be sent for apostolic mission, the sufferings of your inner battles, detachments, and the purification and elevation required for identification and conformation to Christ’s Heart and life, and the glory, of experiencing the powerful effects of the Paschal Mystery, to live and die, to rise in Christ and with Christ, to choose for Christ.  The glory, the true glory of preparing to be ordained a priest, another Christ, the glory of being called to serve, to give your life, to die and to live for a vocation of love to the extreme…yes, love is the true glory, the true crown of the human heart.

May your seminary life, be a time of deep formation into the mysteries of Christ, to be conformed to Christ, to learn Christ, from the Heart Closest to His, Mary's Heart.  May the prayer of the Rosary be a powerful journey into the School of Their Hearts.


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