An aviary is...

An aviary is a large enclosure in which birds are. A rosary is a rose garden in which roses are cultivated and can be admired.

Going up the Aventine Hill in Rome, there is one such rose garden, called roseto comunale which is in full bloom in May. Some of the roses are known for their shape, others for their colour, and others for their perfume. People visiting the rose-garden have much to admire in terms of roses.

Frequently Rome invites us to visit another rose-garden, the Rosary. It is not an enclosure in which to be confined, prevented from flying away or to be kept separated from others. It is an open space to be visited freely. Its roses are not plants that take their nourishment from the ground or from the warm sun, but are mysteries of life and death and resurrection which are firmly rooted in human life nourished by the Spirit of God.

When invited to contemplate the mysteries of the Rosary, we are presented with stories from the life of Christ, but we are not supposed to cultivate nostalgia for the past. Rather we are encouraged to consider our life in the light of what Jesus said, did and promised.

The mysteries of the Rosary, with their different shapes, colours and perfume, are linked by the Lord’s prayer and ten Hail Mary, prayers which are intended to ask that God’s will be done and that we be players in the building of His kingdom on earth. We acknowledge that we need God’s daily bread and Mary’s help to be freed from sin, as she invites us to do what her Son asks us to.

The Rosary is so rich that sometimes we are at a loss what to do. Do we contemplate the mysteries, or do we meditate the prayers? And how frequently we are distracted!

When I visit Rome’s rose-garden I enjoy myself looking at the roses, taking time to look more closely at some of them, and often just admire the signs of life brought by the other fellow visitors. When Dominic spread the Rosary devotion, he offered us a tool with which to look at life in God’s light of salvation.

When people ask me what to do when praying the Rosary, I tend to answer: enter the garden, let Mary guide you and enjoy the life you see in it!

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