As a rose is placed among thorns, the Virgin was surrounded by sorrow

This week, we draw our gaze to the Blessed Mother, illustrating the beauty of her intercession, as she cares for each of us as her own, granting us consolation, relief, love and protection.

By: Deacon Marques Silva

Many of my childhood memories include my mother’s rose bushes that she planted around our house. Wherever we lived, she planted and tended to those bushes, which always produced some of the most amazing blooms. I like to think that her love of roses was inherited from her parents, whose 2-acre homestead was hedged in with rose and azalea bushes. Regardless, roses are magnificent flowers that always capture my attention and, on many occasions, draw me into prayer.

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Perhaps this is the reason one of my favorite titles for Our Lady is the Mystical Rose. The Litany of Loretto invokes the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Rosa Mystica or “Mystical Rose.” Venerable John Cardinal Henry Newman would say that she is the Rosa Mystica because she, like the rose, is the most beautiful flower or soul the Father created; since she was assumed into heaven, she is hidden from us (Cf. Meditations and Devotions pp. 65-67). Therefore, she’s the hidden, or Mystical, Rose.

I love what Our Lady said to St. Brigid: “The rose gives a fragrant odor; it is beautiful to the sight, and tender to the touch, and yet it grows among thorns, inimical to the beauty and tenderness….” St. Brigid then concludes that, “The Virgin may suitably be called a blooming rose. Just as the gentle rose is placed among thorns, so this gentle Virgin was surrounded by sorrow.”

It is the tenderness of the petals, the sweet odor they emit, the brilliance of the colors, and even the way the petals seemingly desire to hide the soul of the flower that gives me immense appreciation for roses. This attribute also connects me to the Blessed Virgin Mary. In my own spiritual life, I need a mother with a tender touch. I desire that her intercession and assistance leave a sweet fragrance on my prayers to make them more acceptable to the Lord (Psalm 141:2). I need the example of her humility and hiddenness to remind me that my life and greatest longing is reserved for He “whom my heart loves” (Song of Songs 3:4b).

Our Lady, without question, is that exemplar of affection, tenderness and beauty. It is no wonder that our Lord created this flower to be most fittingly associated with His mother, the Mystical Rose.

I am a rose of Sharon… (Song of Songs 2:1a)

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