During his usual Wednesday general audience, Pope John Paul II gave thanks to God for the fruits of the "Year of the Rosary," that will officially come to an end on October 31. Due to bad weather, the general audience was moved from St. Peter's Square to St. Peter's Basilica and the Paul VI Hall.
The Pope first greeted pilgrims in the basilica and then proceeded to the Paul VI Hall. John Paul II affirmed that "with the month of October, the Year of the Rosary" -which he proclaimed from October 2002 to October of 2003--"comes to a close."
"I am so grateful to God for this time of grace in which the entire Church community has been able to explore the value and importance of the rosary, which is a Christological and contemplative prayer," he added.
After recalling the motto of the Year of the Rosary, "Contemplating the face of Christ with Mary," John Paul II said that these words, taken from his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, "concisely express the authentic meaning of this prayer, both simple and profound. At the same time, they highlight the continuity between the proposal of the rosary and the path indicated to the People of God in my previous apostolic letter 'Novo millennio ineunte'."
"If at the beginning of the third millennium, Christians are called to grow as 'contemplators of Christ's face', and the ecclesiastical communities are called to become 'schools of prayer', the rosary is the privileged 'Marian way,' in order to reach this dual objective."
The Pope recalled that during this year he wanted "to entrust two great prayer intentions to the People of God: peace and the family. The 21st century, born under the sign of the great jubilee year reconciliation, has unfortunately inherited from the past numerous and enduring acts of war and violence."
"The disconcerting attacks of September 11, 2001" -the Pope added-- "and the events that followed in the world have peaked tensions on a global level. Despite these alarming situations, praying the rosary is not a retreat inside oneself, but a decision of responsible faith, a conscious choice of faith: contemplating the face of Christ, our peace and our reconciliation, we want to implore God for the gift of peace through the intercession of Mary, Most Holy. We ask her for the necessary strength to be builders of peace, beginning in our daily family life."
Key role of family
Referring to the family, the Holy Father emphasized that it should be "the first environment in which Christ's peace is embraced, cultivated and fostered. In our time, however, without prayer it becomes more and more difficult for the family to realize this vocation. This is why it would be very useful to take up again the beautiful custom of praying the rosary at home, as it was done in past generations. 'The family that prays together, stays together'."
"I entrust these intentions," he concluded, "to the Virgin, so that she may protect the family and obtain peace for each person and the world. I hope that all believers, accompanied by Our Lady, set out decisively on the path of sanctity, their gaze fixed on Jesus while they meditate, with the rosary, the mysteries of salvation. This will be the most precious fruit of this year dedicated to the rosary."