October 8 – 1826. The Living Rosary

08 October 2021

In 1826, Pauline organized the first Living Rosary, her second major work after founding the Society of the Propagation of the Faith. Indeed, she modeled the Living Rosary on the Mission Society she founded a few years earlier. This renewal of the practice of the Rosary is above all a work of evangelisation. Pauline appears as an “apostle” and intends to raise up other “apostles”.  She understood the Living Rosary to be, above all, “for the ordinary believer or, as they are called in my country, for the coarse-grained Christians, in order to lead them to Mary through the bonds of the rose.” (Pauline Jaricot, Le Rosaire vivant. This truly divine harp, Paris, Lethielleux, 2011, p. 19.) She wanted to implement a practice that is within everyone's reach, a sort of “breviary of the poor”. Paulina’s Living Rosary has three objectives: to help those that have problems praying, to pray; to do battle against the evils that afflict society by prayer; and to establish centres of missionary communion.

Prayer is certainly important and it is also important to pray together and to lead others to prayer and to a renewal of life. “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst” (Mt 18,20) The living Rosary is solid nourishment through meditation on the mysteries of Christ, the mysteries of Salvation. For Pauline, all of the spiritual gifts she experienced came to her through the living Rosary, notably humiliation of the heart and prayer based on trust in the merits of the Son of God. This is how she obtained the reign of peace in her soul. Through the practice of the Rosary, Pauline explains, my mind was more firmly detached from all the purely human reasoning, so as to hope for salvation for the universe only in the mysteries of the life and death of God made man and victim of his love. By the virtue of the Holy Rosary, my heart has dared to join its voice to that of a Savior God whose tears, poverty, and suffering have never ceased to resound in the supplications of our Father. (Pauline Jaricot, The Living Rosary, op. Cit, p. 19-20.)

The Gospel, in fact, is on our lips when we pray the Rosary. The angelic greeting from Luke’s Gospel, the Lord's Prayer in the three synoptic Gospels, and the text of the Gospels that we meditate on in the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries. Through the Living Rosary, Pauline appears as a lay missionary with great organizational talents, concerned with using a good pedagogy of the Faith. She reveals her face as a teacher of the spiritual life who shares the fruits of her contemplation, of her meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, of the work of Salvation. The Rosary appears as a summary of the Gospel. The objective is to multiply the groups of the Living Rosary, to reawaken the faith as in the time of St. Dominic and to carry out works of salvation. It is therefore important to know the Living Rosary and to understand the link it establishes between prayer and mission, on the one hand, and between meditation on the Gospel and ecclesial communion on the other.

In the following pages, we will discuss the organization of the Living Rosary. It will include describing what can be considered its manual and how it can serve as an authentic tool for the apostolate. The way of meditating on the mysteries of salvation, with eyes fixed on Jesus and Mary, and inspired by the exercises of Ignatius of Loyola, can allow those who practice the Living Rosary to be spiritually nourished and to grow in holiness. The love for Christ that consumed Pauline led her to pray, to act and to help others to enter into the same dynamic of love: The desire to love, the devouring thirst to possess my God, made me desire also to act for his glory. I felt that the one who intoxicated me with this river of love was asking something of me.... I always had a secret presentiment that told me: 'God wants you to serve his glory! You are reserved to fulfill hidden purposes'. (Pauline Jaricot, The Living Rosary, op. Cit., p. 17)