Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Healing Light of the Rosary

There's healing in touching the very beads themselves, a lowly healing maybe, yet something basic and instinctive. When all around is collapsing and the centre cannot hold, it is something to latch on to. “Worry beads” are universal. They let the sense of touch do its healing work. The fretful child lulls itself to sleep clutching a much loved teddy bear. A frightened adult reaches for a comforting hand in times of stress. Heaven has its own psychology, and the Rosary beads must have a high rating in its pain department!

Robert Llewelyn, formerly chaplain to the Julian of Norwich Society writes thus of the Rosary as an instrument of healing : “ Go round the whole body, making each part, an object of attention or awareness, saying the Rosary prayers at the same time. Thus, be aware of the heart centre. Let your mind descend into the heart. You are directing the healing energy of love to that part of your body. Then go round your body, mentally taking one or two beads for each part, shoulder, arms, hands, the brow, the face, the jaw... In this way, you bring healing to every part of your body, and thus to every part of yourself, that body-soul complex which makes up each one of us. Perhaps, one half of the hospital beds in the country would be emptied, if everyone were to spend fifteen minutes on this each day...!”

Something and someone to hold on to
Not just something, but someone! The sacred string of beads is something to hold on to, indeed. But more importantly, someone to hold on to! It is the Nurse of heaven who holds the other end of the golden string. Nurse of the shining white Lamb as an Irish poet called her, Mary invites us to grasp this life-line. The beads enshrine her precious and sacred secrets. They hold the healing blood-medicine of the Saviour. Down the centuries, the beads have been used in the ministry of healing. St. Louis Bertrand, the Spanish apostle of New Granada, was accustomed to carry a large Rosary round his neck, and one of his favourite practices was to place it about the neck of sick persons. The chronicler tells, how when he did this with the Countess of Albayda, her illness immediately vanished.

On another occasion, he spoke more decidedly to a spiritual confidante, saying directly. “God in His mercy granted that this Rosary should raise the dead to life.” Thus his devotion to the Rosary betrayed him into revealing a miracle he had sought to conceal, the raising of a girl to life during his South American mission. The report spread among the natives and reached Valencia, but the Saint would neither acknowledge or deny its truth. Once when asked so directly that he could not hedge, he replied: “What makes you ask such a question? God does what a blacksmith would do, when making an iron tool. He has made many suitable pieces of material and selects the one he pleases, although all are fit for his purpose.”

Healing figures highly with many rosary groups to-day, and it is usual to give a blessing for this purpose to the beads which the members freely use in the manner of the Spanish saint mentioned. As part of this blessing the following words occur:

Father of mercy , heal the sick who touch these beads
with faith, hope and love,
and may healing power go out from the Gospel mysteries,
which we contemplate and celebrate
to transform us into the likeness of Jesus,
and make us strong with all the strength
which comes from his Divine Humanity.

With the beads around the neck, or in the hands of the sick person, I like to read the text from Mark 5:

There was a woman who suffered terribly
even though she had been to many doctors...
She touched his cloak and her bleeding stopped at once...
Jesus knew that power had gone out from him,
so he turned round in the crowd and asked:
“Who touched my clothes?”

Jesus, whom we touch in every mystery of the Rosary, is still the source of power, and the author of healing. As we make contact with the simple string of beads, it is as if we were touching the hem of his garment, the very edge of eternity. All the while I like to place the focus of healing on touching the person of the Lord rather than the actual beads. I invite people to enter into the contemplative flow of the prayer and to make contact with the life-giving mysteries which are the soul of the Rosary. I composed the following prayer which brings our personal experience into line with the life-experience of the Lord himself:

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