Three bishops, in pastoral letters to mark October as a special month of devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, and this Sunday as Rosary Sunday, emphasise the importance of Catholics praying for her intercession.
Bishop Worlock of Portsmouth calls attention to a letter from Pope Paul on how Catholics are to develop this devotion. "He reminds us," wrote Bishop Worlock, "that the Second Vatican Council stressed that devotions of piety towards Our Lady and the Saints should be in harmony with the liturgy but should certainly not he suppressed.
"He goes to great lengths to show how in the renewal of the liturgy much thought has been given to this. We often hear people criticising the changes in the Church's calendar: but Pope Paul shows with what care the feasts honouring the life of Our Lady have been fitted into the pattern of the Church's commemoration throughout the year of the life and mission of her divine Son, "The Pope points also to the honoured mention of Mary in the Eucharistic Prayers of the Mass which bring out her place in the life of God's People. Here is one example: 'Grant that your Church who with Mary shared Christ's Passion may be worthy to share also in his Resurrection'."
Later, Bishop Warlock writes: "Because . . . we no longer follow the old form of October devotions, with the public recitation of the Rosary during Mass, this does not mean that October devotions and the Rosary itself have been suppressed. October is still a time in which we make special efforts to seek the prayerful help of the Mother whom Jesus gave us from the Cross."
Bishop Casey of Brentwood writes in his 'pastoral: "The Rosary is not dead yet, and I trust you will do all you can to renew and revive it. In the hurly-burly of modern life there are few easier ways of truly absorbing the Gospel , . .
"When and how should you say the Rosary? As and when you like — on your beads or on your fingers, kneeling or on your way to work, or in the evening while you are going to steep. You can say a decade or the whole Rosary. The Rosary is the freest kind of prayer.
'A decade can be said with the children. adapting it to them by means of a simple meditation, thus, as Pope Pius XII said, 'giving the admirable examples of the life of Jesus and Mary, teaching them the principal mysteries of faith, and joining them in a chain of love with our Heavenly Father.'
"Do not be put off by those who say the Rosary is mechanical and repetitious. Repetition of the same formula has always been a feature of prayer in every form of religion, Christian or not. You have only to think of the practices of the Desert Fathers, the monks of Athos, or of the medieval mystics and saints, and in our own time the much-loved Pope John."
Archbishop Cowderoy of Southwark writes: "As the Mother of Jesus, Mary is far greater than just any ordinary woman. Her intimate relationship with the Son of God made Man is such that we cannot honour him without honouring his Mother, and we cannot honour Mary without honouring Jesus.
"It is in this sense that the Church has ever taught and understood the worship we offer Our Lady.
"We call her Blessed because of the great things that He that is Mighty has done to her, we love and thank her for consenting to be His Mother and for giving all she had to cooperate in the work of our Redemption.
"We thank her for being the Mother of the Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, and the Mother of us all . . We should pray most fervently and most sincerely for the loving patronage and intercession of Mary, that with the help of her prayers we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ."