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What the Rosary means to me-17

Monday, October 24, 2011
When I grew up, the prayer of the Rosary was compulsory to all of us at home. My brother and my sisters were members of the Legion of Mary. So, I grew up very well used to the Rosary. But it had not yet a deep meaning in my life as it was kind of a humdrum prayer. I used to feel some warmth in my heart as I would be praying the Rosary but that would fade away as soon as I would have finished praying.

Then there was the 1994 Genocide in Rwanda, when Africa experienced the 20th century's most brutal Genocide, I was only11 years old, turning 12. I saw most of it happening as I lived in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda. I saw many lifeless bodies, I saw abandoned children, and
I experienced the bombing of my city; in a sentence: I endured hell on earth. For many people, hope was a forgotten word and the only thing that mattered was survival for at least one day. Many people stopped praying, but at home we used to pray. We hoped in better days. During the bombings and the other times we went through, prayer remained our weapon for survival. We used to pray the Rosary together as did many other Catholic families. When the Genocide stopped, many of those families never forgot the role of the Rosary in their survival. It
symbolises a companion in times of loneliness and despair.

Those who have read the book Left to Tell know the story of Immaculée Ilibagiza, the Rwandese lady who survived Genocide hiding in a tiny bathroom. In that book, “Immaculée shares her miraculous story of how she survived during the Rwanda genocide in 1994 when she and seven other women huddled silently together in the cramped bathroom of a local pastor’s
house for 91 days! In this captivating and inspiring book, Immaculée shows us how to embrace the power of prayer, forge a profound and lasting relationship with God, and discover the importance of forgiveness and the meaning of truly unconditional love and understanding—through our darkest hours.”

To me –as to Immaculée – the Rosary is prayer that would always help me to get through tough times because it brings me closer to the mother of Jesus Christ ,our Saviour. The danger with this would be that I might forget about it when I am experiencing peaceful times. But then the Rosary still has its own meaning outside my immediate experiences and as a Dominican it has an even greater meaning to me.

As one would read on the website of the Order of Preachers, ‘the Rosary was popularized by
Alan de la Roche (1428-1475), a Breton Dominican with a great reputation for sanctity. He propagated devotion to the Virgin's Psalter in northern France and in Flanders, organizing Rosary Confraternities everywhere for all people, who were avid for indulgences in a period of war, famine and schism, eager "to be preserved from sudden death and the assaults of the devil”. [And further we read that] While Dominicans wear the Rosary on their belts like the professed Carthusians, while generations of Preachers have devoted themselves to apopular apostolate, in the sense of the ecclesiology of the "People of God" long before this expression became so highly valued, we can realize what medieval men were trying to do by attributing the invention of the Rosary to St. Dominic. They wanted, in their poetic way, to express the power of
prayer in which the Founder so confidently believed, and the role of the Virgin
in salvation history.’

As a young Dominican brother, praying the Rosary does not only mean that I am grateful to Our Lady for the Role she prayed in our salvation, but I am at the same time reflecting and meditating on the stages of our Saviour’s life. The Rosary summarizes well the story of our salvation and invites to continually be part of that plan of God to bring the Good News to all God’s creatures. And as I mentioned at the beginning of this short article, it brings me closer to God and makes me feel God’s presence through the communion with God’s mother and our mother Mary.

Gustave Ineza OP


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