Discalced Carmelite Father Jesús Castellano Cervera, who is also professor of sacramental theology and spirituality at the Teresianum theological faculty, offered that insight in this interview with ZENIT.
The interview came in the wake of the recent feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. On the eve of the feast, Oct. 6, John Paul II exhorted pilgrims attending the general audience to "make the rosary your daily prayer."
Q: Why has the Holy Father encouraged Christians to pray the rosary every day?
Father Castellano Cervera: For many reasons. Above all, he does so himself and gives an example to all. I remember that precisely at the beginning of his pontificate, in October 1978, he already recommended this prayer to everyone, which he described as "my favorite prayer."
He proposes it today, after the October 2002 apostolic letter on the rosary, because he wishes to stimulate the way of praying the rosary in communion with Mary, contemplating and living the mysteries of Jesus, and raising "vocal" prayer to the rank of contemplative prayer.
Q: What does the rosary have that makes it different from other prayers, and why is it so important to address one's supplications to Mary?
Father Castellano Cervera: The rosary, as seen from its beginning and progressive organization, is a simple and intense prayer that recalls the mysteries of our redemption.
The nucleus of the contemplation is offered by progressive meditation on the mysteries of Christ and Mary: joyful --the incarnation and infancy; luminous -- public life; sorrowful -- the Passion and death; glorious -- the resurrection and glorification of Christ and Mary. It is the essential nucleus of our faith and of the mystery of Christ.
The contemplation is carried out with the support of the prayers of the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory be to the Father, all with a contemplative rhythm that assimilates the mysteries to keep them in the heart and relive them.
However, not all the prayers are supplications to Mary. The Our Father puts us in contact with the Father, through Christ, and in the Spirit. The first part of the Hail Mary has the character of an invocation and contemplates the mystery of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Lord, and ends with the memory of the name and person of Jesus.
Only the second part of the Hail Mary is a real supplication to Mary, addressed to the Virgin Mary, Mother of God, by us sinners and in the perspective of eternal salvation. The Glory be to the Father takes us back to the Trinity, source and culmination of our life and prayer.
Q: Many complain about the stress of life and wonder how they can find time to pray. How can one pray the rosary?
Father Castellano Cervera: The praying of the rosary is simple. It does not require a special place, or a book, or a silent pause. We can pray it anywhere, on the street, in the car, on public transport, walking.
It only requires some attention of the mind and heart. It is also an answer to stress, because it is a prayer that gives peace to the heart and mind, and enables us, by adding an intention to each mystery, as Blessed John XXIII did, to enter into communion with all and to intercede with Mary for the salvation of all.
Q: In addition to the rosary, the Holy Father has asked believers to pay special attention to the Eucharist. What is the connection between the prayer to Mary and the Eucharist?
Father Castellano Cervera: In the Eucharistic celebration we live the whole mystery of Christ in the fundamental nucleus that is the memorial of his death and resurrection in a sacramental and eminently ecclesial manner.
In the rosary we prolong personally or in a group meditation, contemplation and communion with the Lord through each of the mysteries of Christ and Mary, from the assumption to the crowning of the Virgin Mary, and reflecting on the whole evangelical journey of Christ and his Mother.
The rosary prepares us for the Eucharist and prolongs in contemplation communion with Christ and Mary.