Contemplating Christ’s Life

By Sr. M. Danielle Peters

The Rosary of God’s Instruments originated in October 1944 in the Dachau Concentration Camp, where Father Joseph Kentenich was a prisoner. It is included in the collection of prayers composed there, entitled Heavenwards.[1] The introductory prayers at the start of the rosary as a whole and at the beginning of each individual mystery guide us in pondering the mysteries in the life of Jesus and his mother, as well as imitating them in our personal life. In this meditation we consider the Preparatory Prayer:

Father, help us close the gates of our senses
and let bright light stream into our souls.
Lead us deeply into the warm radiance of faith
and into the mystery of redemption.

A Condensed Guide to Meditative Prayer

The first four lines are a condensed guide to meditative prayer. They are an invitation to “close the gates of our senses.” To become silent and receptive we need to ‘turn off’ all noises and distractions that occupy our ears and eyes. It seems we are constantly hearing, smelling, seeing, and sensing something. Therefore, it is important to close our eyes and turn off the phone and other distractions. Kneeling or sitting in stillness is the predisposition for “bright light [to] stream into our souls.” Through this light of faith given to us by the Holy Spirit, the Heavenly Father can then introduce us “into the mystery of redemption.”  

We want to quietly accompany the Redeemer
as we contemplate his life in the Rosary,
united with his strong Mother-Bride
whom he has chosen as his helpmate.

The mysteries of the Rosary Unfold the Union Between Jesus and Mary

By meditating on the mysteries of the rosary we spiritually accompany the Redeemer’s life in the quiet and sacred space of our heart shrine. The mysteries of the rosary invite us to reflect on his incarnation, his public ministry, his passion, and his glorification. His “strong Mother-Bride” accompanies him on this way as his helpmate. As his “Mother-Bride,” Mary is the New Eve united to the New Adam in the entire work of redemption. The mysteries of the rosary unfold this union between Jesus and Mary.

Give us the grace to grasp with our hearts
the message of each mystery
as we hear it in the Rosary,
and to form our lives accordingly.

What We Grasp With Our Hearts Must “Form Our Lives Accordingly.”

In the third verse, we pray for a two-fold grace: that we will be able “to grasp with our hearts the message we hear in each mystery.” Our hearts see more than our eyes. Or as Antoine de Saint-Exupéry writes: “. . . it is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”[2] 

But this is not enough: what we grasp with our hearts must “form our lives accordingly.” It is a meditative pondering, understanding, and living. The next two verses teach us how to do this: 

Let us immerse ourselves into the ocean of love
which the Rosary allows us to drink in richly,
and let the glowing love of Christ and his Mother
inflame our weak sacrificial spirit.

Praying the Rosary is Like Entering a School of Contemplation

For Father Kentenich, praying the rosary is like entering a school of contemplation, where we learn toimmerse ourselves into the ocean of love.” Each decade of the rosary offers us a unique drink from the inexhaustible ocean of God’s love. The more we quench our thirst with this love, the more “the glowing love of Christ and his Mother [can] inflame our weak sacrificial spirit.” It is a mystery of love’s uniting and assimilating force that we become what we love. 

Then our lives will soon become a mirror
of Christ’s being and living here on earth.
In him, we will go through the world with strength and kindness
as an image of Mary bringing blessings to all.

As the Blessed Mother’s Image, We are Sent Forth Into the World

When we follow Father Kentenich’s guidance in praying the rosary, our lives will become fruitful. They will mirror “Christ’s being and living here on earth.” Mary, who pondered the mysteries of faith deeply in her heart was the first one to mirror Christ by being a living monstrance and tabernacle. She is our model. As her image, we are sent forth into our world to radiate Christ. 

Then you may always use us as instruments
in your omnipotent, loving, and mighty hands,
and form through us, in accordance with your plan,
the face of humanity today. Amen.

Meditating on the mysteries of the rosary in the school of Mary, our model and educator, we will gradually learn to surrender ourselves as instruments to the “omnipotent, loving, and mighty hands” of the Heavenly Father. Meditation and apostolate, contemplation and action belong together in Schoenstatt’s spirituality. Even the simple praying of the rosary affects the ”face of humanity today.” It will transform our hearts and from there bring about an encounter with Christ in others.   

[1] For the Rosary of God’s Instruments, see Father Joseph Kentenich, Heavenwards, trans. Jonathan Niehaus, American edition 4.0 (Waukesha, Wisconsin: Schoenstatt Fathers, 1992), pp. 91–100.

[2] Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, p. 53; Accessed 4/11/2022.