There is an ideal prayer for Advent, but it’s not one you haven’t heard before.
In fact, it’s one of the prayers most treasured by Catholics: the Rosary.
Sure, the Rosary is a powerful prayer at any time of year, but here are three reasons why the Rosary is an ideal prayer for Advent.
- The Rosary takes us to Jesus through Mary. Advent and Christmas are eminently Christ-centered seasons, for the obvious reason that they are focused on the birth of Christ; however, they are also intensely Marian. Our Lady lived the most intense Advent of all time as she carried Jesus in her womb. Her life and his were intimately intertwined with a closeness that can only exist between Mother and Son, and especially between the Creator and the Mother He created for Himself. Who better for us to turn to while preparing to celebrate Jesus’ coming?
- The Rosary is contemplative.We can only imagine how Mary spent the last weeks of her pregnancy! Like every mother, she was thinking of a thousand practical things, was dealing with the physical difficulties of pregnancy, and had her hopes, dreams and anxieties. But she was also in a unique situation as she contemplated the words of the Angel Gabriel and the prophecies surrounding her Son.
Making time to pray the Rosary means finding a moment to quiet our hearts and minds, to concentrate and turn our thoughts to higher things. We can’t pray the Rosary well while at work, at a shopping mall, or at a Christmas party. It forces us to take a time out and get in touch with Mary and with God.
In the Rosary, we turn to Mary as a guide for meditating on the mysteries of Christ’s life – mysteries that for Mary, during that first Advent, were mostly in the future, foreshadowed in the cryptic words of Scripture that would only become clear in retrospect. We can ask her to help us see Jesus with her eyes, to feel her hope and joy, her inconveniences and fears embraced out of love for her Son and Savior.
- The Rosary helps us to understand the full meaning of Christmas. As we contemplate the Joyful, Sorrowful, Luminous and Glorious mysteries, we could think we’re straying from the theme of Christmas. That’s not entirely true. The birth of Jesus wasn’t an isolated event; it was one step (an important one) on Jesus’ path from his Incarnation nine months earlier to his Ascension into heaven. Jesus wasn’t born just to be a cute baby in a manger; He was born to be our Savior. That means He was born to teach, to heal, and to die on the Cross. He was born to rise from the dead and ascend into heaven, giving us new life, opening the gates of heaven for us, and preparing a place for us. Praying all the mysteries of the Rosary during Advent gives us a holistic view of what we are celebrating – it helps us to see Jesus’ birth in the light of what comes before and after.
Whatever else we are doing during Advent to prepare ourselves for Christmas, it’s a great idea to include the Rosary, the prayer that leads us to Christ through Mary.