On our liturgical calendar, the month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary, with…
I have always had an affinity for flowers. Any flowers… tulips, daisies, pansies, all are my favorites. I enjoy buying them, giving them, receiving them, planting them in my yard and having them in my home. I love the fragrance of the smelly ones as they fill the space and the emotions and memories which are emitted with certain ones. I especially love walking into Church during the Easter season and smelling the lilies. I breathe deeply of their beautiful fragrance (especially since I do not have allergies!) and I can only imagine that Heaven will have such a sweet odor.
Flowers are a lovely symbol of femininity, grace, poise and beauty and are the incredible work of Our Creator. He has fashioned the flower to be beauty, but that which also is able to withstand storms, rain, wind, cold and and many times, the brutality of the climate. While delicate, the flower is also strength, endurance, vitality and fortitude. While pondering the emergence of spring and all the new life seen sprouting up from the winter ground, I find that I have been drawn in prayer to this loveliness in God’s creation and most especially to the way that Mary is likened to the rose, the queen of the flowers. And She is especially seen as Rosa Mystica… Mystical Rose. I have prayed and honored Mary with this title for a while, but realized that I was not sure why She was given this title. As I took this to prayer, I felt the Lord revealing to me the many ways that Mary is both mystical and like a rose. She is the perfect dichotomy of strength and gentleness, just as the rose, with its fragile petals of gentle silkiness, is attached to a strong stem filled with protective thorns. This is the way that I see the heart of Mary… full of gentle compassion for Her children, yet formed in a faith built of strength to withstand and protect against the battle at hand.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux described Our Lady in terms of the rose. In one of his sermons, he said, “To show His love for us, to bring to nothing the wisdom of men, God was pleased to take human flesh of a woman, of a virgin, that He might restore like by like, heal opposite by opposite, pluck out the poisonous thorn, blot out effectively the handwriting of sin. Eve was a thorn, Mary a rose. Eve was a thorn that wounded; Mary a rose, soothing the passions. Eve was a thorn fastening death upon all; Mary a rose restoring all to the heritage of salvation. Mary was a rose, white in Her virginity, red in Her love; white in Her flesh, red in Her mind; white as She walked the path of virtue, red in trampling upon vice; white in the purification of Her affection, red in the mortification of Her flesh; white in Her love of God, red in Her compassion for Her neighbor.”
This is the mystical aroma of Mary and that which can only be given by God in the fullness of Her beauty. Our Lady has given the entirety of Her Immaculate Heart over for the conversion of Her children throughout the world. She has allowed the rose to be Her “symbol” as She presented roses to Bishop Zumarraga in the tilma of Juan Diego as the definitive sign of Her presence. In many of Her appearances, She carries roses or wears them. In the image of Her Immaculate Heart, She reveals Her heart to the world encircled by roses. In The Song of Songs, She is referred to as a “rose of Sharon.” And the crowning jewel of Mary is the Rosary. The Rosary, as Padre Pio attests, is the “weapon for our times.” The name is taken from the Latin “rosarium” meaning “chain of roses.” What a mysterious way to combat evil, through prayer prayed on humble beads which connect us to Mary with the chord of love, the true connection to Christ through His mother.
In God’s Garden, there are many flowers but none compares to the Queen, who is Our Lady, Mary, Mystical Rose. This title emits reverence and honor, strength and beauty and Her fragrance is sweet. Her gentle and invitational way always leads us to Her Son, the one true Gardener. May our souls always know the beautiful and mystical rose that She is and may we continue to cultivate that growth in our own garden heart. Mary, Mystical Rose, pray for us.