Why pray the Rosary? Why pray to Mary?
First, it is important to understand that Catholics do not worship Mary. We only worship the three Divine Persons of the Blessed Trinity: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. We honor Mary as the greatest of saints. She was chosen and created by God and given the gift of a soul free from Original Sin from the first moment of her conception. Catholics refer to this event as the Immaculate Conception, and it is celebrated every year on December 8th.
Many Catholics are confused by Church teaching on the Immaculate Conception and mistakenly believe that it is a celebration of the day that Mary conceived Jesus. In fact, this is a completely different feast day known as Feast of the Annunciation. It is observed on March 25th, exactly nine months before Christmas Day. At the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, and she conceived Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The feast of the Immaculate Conception, on the other hand, honors the day that Mary herself was conceived without Original Sin in the womb of her mother, St. Anne. Mary was given this special honor because she was to become the Mother of the “Word made flesh”. Certainly, the woman who was to conceive, bear and raise the Son of God could not be tainted by sin. Sin takes away grace, but Mary is full of grace (Luke 1:28). One of Mary’s many titles is “Theotokos” or “God Bearer,” which clearly indicates that she is the Mother of God and not merely the mother of Christ’s human nature.
As the Mother of Jesus, Mary was also His first teacher. She taught Him how to walk, how to talk and all the other things a mother teaches a young child. She raised Him to adulthood and followed Him to the foot of the cross, cherishing every moment with her beloved Son. “And Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” (Luke 2:19)
Through her favorite prayer, the Rosary, Mary acts as our teacher, guiding us through prayerful meditation on the events of Jesus’ life. We contemplate His conception, birth and early childhood through the Joyful Mysteries. The Luminous Mysteries lead us through His adult ministry. We then follow our Savior to the foot of the cross as we pray the Sorrowful Mysteries. Finally, we rejoice with wonder and awe as we meditate on the events of the Glorious Mysteries.
As Pope John Paul II stated in his Apostolic Letter, Rosary of the Virgin Mary,
“With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of His love.”
Frequent Rosary prayer and meditation helps us to become more Christ-like. The Rosary is not a path to Mary, but a path through Mary to Jesus, and ultimately to our Heavenly Father.
If you are interested in reading more about this subject, I highly recommend The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort.