The flame of the Rosary

The Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem
12 June 2009

The cards for the General Promotion of the Rosary have been distributed by tens of thousands. On the front they show a photograph taken by Brother Louis-Marie Ariño-Durand, OP, and can be used as a simple and evocative sermon. Be they large or small, they are all the same overleaf: you will find the site’s slogan in the three official languages of the Dominican Order, “Pray, preach, live… the Rosary!”

This photo was taken in the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. It is actually the exterior wall of Christ’s Tomb. The faithful come to leave candles here.

This image shows us that we can pray the Rosary anywhere: in places of death and places of life. Jesus’ tomb is a singular place of death: it is here, in a new tomb, that the body of the Crucified was laid to rest. Paradoxically, it is the ultimate place of life since it is also where Christ rose from the dead!

These candles can also transmit a message to us. Signs of the piety of the faithful, they also show what our prayer can be.

Firstly, you notice the great number of candles. The Rosary is a prayer that adapts itself perfectly to all situations: one can recite it alone or in a group. Candles which are close to each other can even combine their flame. The resulting light is then more intense.

These candles are thin and therefore fragile, too. Our prayers are often the same. In this photograph, some are quite upright, others twisted… like our lives. We shouldn’t wait to have a perfect life, upright, to pray… otherwise we run the risk of never picking up (again) our rosary!

And finally, some candles are extinguished. They symbolise the presence of those who have no words. The formula we repeat when we say the rosary has been given to us. When we use it, we give a voice, words to those who are speechless, who do not have the words. Some do not have the strength to say “Father” to God, or “forgive us as we forgive”… When we say the Our Father, we say it in communion with those who cannot say it, who do not know how to say it.

Fragile, these candles? Certainly.
The Child of Bethlehem, a weak light in the night of Judea, was very fragile. Herod wanted to extinguish it…and he got his fingers burnt!
And we should never forget that a small flame, however weak, can set a mountain on fire!

The same goes for our prayers, so weak in appearance, but which can set the world alight!

The Rosary? A flame between our hands!

Fr. Louis-Marie ARIÑO-DURAND, OP
General Promoter of the Rosary