THE APOSTOLIC Letter of Pope John Paul II, ‘‘Rosarium Virginis Mariae’’ encourages all Christians to tune unto God in prayer using the Rosary. According to St. Louis Marie de Montfort, the word ‘Rosary’ means “Crown of Roses.” That is to say, each time people pray the Rosary devoutly, they place a crown of one hundred and fifty-three red and white roses upon the heads of Jesus and Mary. In addition, St. Therese of Lisieux affirms that being Heavenly flowers, these roses will never fade or lose their exquisite beauty. She strongly believes that there is no other means of proving her love for Mary than to gather flowers; even if it means gathering the roses in the very midst of thorns. She acclaimed that the longer and sharper the thorns, the sweeter shall be her song. This gives us the reason to always pray the Rosary, not only at the moment of distress, but also in time of joy. For in doing this, we present to Mary, flowering gifts of love.

Flowers are considered to be symbols of Mary’s holiness. They are gems that give colour to the poetry of nature. They assist in expressing our feelings and thoughts and they beautify our soul. Traditionally, flowers signifies rebirth, which may explain why some people place flowers upon graves. Flower is among the best gifts we can give Mary through praying our rosary beautifully. During Mary’s different apparitions, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Catherine of Siena, St. Rose of Lima had testified seeing her with flowers. I would imagine, she enjoyed beautiful flowers since they are signs of God’s wonderful creation. There is even the chance that she kept flowers in the home of the Holy Family, as women of today do. In many artistic works throughout the centuries, we often see Mary with different types of flowers.         

May and October are months of flowering. Thus, special Marian devotions are held in the Catholic Church during these months. Activities that characterizes these devotions includes pilgrimages, visits to places dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, little sacrifices in her honour, well finished work offered up to her, and a more attentive recitation of the Rosary. Another peculiar practice in these period are the beautification of altar with flowers. These flowers are replaced throughout the month to keep them fresh. In Germany (Schoenstatt) and other countries, Mary is celebrated in May with the Blumen von Mai (Flowers of Mary). Marian devotees collect colourful flowers with which to decorate the parish church’s altars, grottos and shrines of our Lady. Catholic communities often congregate in the afternoons to pray the Rosary and also offer flowers to the Shrine of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Certain flowers from the Scripture (Wisdom books) were adopted by the Church Fathers, and incorporated as Immaculate Conception symbols, such as, the Blossoming Stem of Jesse from Isaiah’s prophecy of the Virgin Birth of the Messiah. From the Litany of Loreto, other flowers were also adopted as Immaculate Conception symbols, such as Yucca and Tower of Ivory. The Blessed Virgin Mary is also associated with this passage from the Song of Songs 2:1, which says, ‘‘I am the Rose of Sharon, the lily of the valleys.’’ Thus, St. Gasper del Bufalo once remarked that, ‘‘In the garden of the Church, Mary gathers three flowers and places them into our hands: the white lily, the red rose, the pale violet. The lily draws us away from the world. The rose represents the burning love which unites us with the heart of Jesus. The violet is the emblem of evangelical mortifications, which makes one partaker of the fruits of the Cross of Jesus.’’

In line with this, St. Augustine admonishes; ‘‘learn to love your Creator in creatures.’’ ‘He exclaimed! ‘‘the Heaven, earth and all that is in it tell me to love Thee.’’ St. Mary Magdalene de Pazzi, holding in her hand a flower and an apple, looking at them became enraptured with divine love. And she said, ‘‘God has created this fruit for my sake, so as to give me a proof of the love that he bears for me!’ Thus, as any son who loves his mother would offer gifts to her, Joseph Engling offered flowers of roses to the Blessed Mother. Joseph knew the bountiful outcome of having Mary as His Mother. In 1916, he wrote a love letter to Mary. The letter titled, “May blossom from the garden of my heart.” In it he wrote, “My Mother, the whole garden of my heart is dedicated to you. As the rose is the queen of flowers, so also, you are the Queen of my heart. I place everything at your disposal.” He concretized this by saying his Rosary, such that he tailed a bouquet of 1,712 blossoms at the end of the month.

In our world today, praying the Rosary is a very powerful tool to conquer temptation and to scatter the plans of the evil ones. One of the mystic saints; Padre Pio called the Rosary, ‘a beads of powerful-battle weapon against the devil.’ St Theresa of Avila, who used to pray her Rosary everyday appeared to one of her sisters after death and told her of the great glory reserved in Heaven for those who loved praying the Rosary while on earth. She said that, if God were to send her back on earth to live till the second coming of Christ, she would spend that whole time praying the Rosary.

Dear reader, if you make praying the Rosary your habit, these crown of roses will brighten your path, beautify your dreams, and crown your endeavours with success. Those who faithfully recite the Rosary shall receive plenitude of God’s graces and shall participate in the merits of the saints in Paradise. Thus, let us not be ashamed of counting the beads, for the secrets of the Rosary are only revealed to the humble, who are the wise and greatest of men. Therefore, in honouring our Mother Mary and seeking her intercession, let us diligently present to her our flower, that is, the flowers of the Rosary. At the end, she is the queen Mother who will comfortably bring our prayers to His Heavenly Son, Jesus Christ, whom she divinely shares graces with.

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