On Mother’s Day, the St.
Clement Band used to
assemble in front of the friary
between Masses. They played
Marian hymns. As a small child, I
enjoyed the concert. When they performed
“On This Day, O Beautiful
Mother,” I would think of my
earthly mother. My two mothers
would merge into one. It helped me
appreciate both mothers.
The next impetus to an appreciation
of Mary came in my novitiate
year. Our director connected us with
the work of St. Louis de Montfort,
who wrote a treatise called True
Devotion to Mary. Mary and the Rosary
became more important.
The Order encouraged us to meditate
an hour a day. In my later years I have
decided the best way for me to meditate
is to pray the Rosary. The Rosary connects
me with Mary and the most
important mysteries of the faith.
More and more it has dawned on
me that the Rosary connects me with
God’s beauty. Every mystery expresses
just that. Their marvel is that they give
us a glimpse of God’s beauty, but that
there is always more to see.
Music and Mysteries
Some people wonder whether there is
any point to repeating the same words.
What I find is that the individual
prayers are beautiful in themselves and
can be enjoyed for their own sake.
The point, however, is to meditate
on the mysteries while repeating the
words. It is like a violin sonata. The
piano accompaniment (like the words)
offers continuous support. The violin is
then able to provide a melody of soaring
beauty (the mystery).
The sonata metaphor can be taken
further. There are several movements in
a sonata. The pause between movements
gives the musicians and listeners
a chance to catch their breath. Each
decade of the Rosary is a new movement.
If our minds have wandered, the
new decade brings us back to prayer.
Today there are 20 decades to the
Rosary. I find each mystery celebrating
an event in Jesus’ and Mary’s
life a thing of beauty.
In the joyful mysteries we marvel
with Mary at the beauty of God in
the Incarnation and the early life of
Jesus. In the mysteries of light we
witness the baptism of Jesus, his
miracles, his preaching, his transfiguration,
his gift of the Eucharist.
In the sorrowful mysteries, we experience
the horror of Jesus’ death and
the heartrending events that led up
to it. Is there beauty here? Yes,
because we are swept up into the
infinite love of God revealed in
Jesus’ self-emptying. In the glorious
mysteries, we contemplate the glorification
of Jesus and Mary. We are confronted
by beauty far beyond our ability
to comprehend, but a beauty we long
As a Franciscan, I have learned how
Francis, Clare and so many of their followers
in the three Orders enjoyed the
beauty of creation, the beauty of all
God’s mysteries and the beauty of all
human beings. The Rosary puts me in
touch with the beauty of Franciscan
Sometimes people have trouble with
the Catholic Church, thinking that its
dogmas and code of morality cramp
our freedom. The opposite is true: The
Church with its mysteries, moral teaching
and Rosary helps us enjoy God’s
beauty. And with Mary we can treasure
all these things in our hearts.
Next: Devotion to Saints