I had printed out this beautiful image on a large, laminated poster in order to impart the idea that the rosary is pretty much the photo album of Jesus' life, but I quickly realized that the kids (for the most part) hadn't even been introduced to what the rosary was let alone how the mysteries played into the recitation at all.
I was floored!
So we began with where the rosary came from, how St. Dominic codified it courtesy of Our Lady's visions to him concerning the prayers, and the importance of the Hail Mary as a Jesus-centric prayer.
We focused, in particular, on Our Lady's words to St. Dominic. They are so beautiful, and they explain in perfect detail why this litany of "Angelic Salutations" is so vital for the regeneration of faith for humanity. She says to St. Dominic:
When God willed to renew the face of the earth, He began by sending down on it the fertilizing rain of the Angelic Salutation. Therefore preach my Psalter composed of 150 Angelic Salutations and 15 Our Fathers, and you will obtain an abundant harvest.
In other words, God began His renewal with the Annunciation. The angelic salutation that the Blessed Mother refers to is Archangel Gabriel's greeting of "Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee!"
I explained to the children that at this momentous event, the Blessed Mother came to understand that she was not only a mother, but the Mother of God! She was chosen to be "blessed among women" as the harbinger of salvation, even before John the Baptist. Her heart at these tidings was full of joy, brimming with gratitude, exaltation and hope that God would bestow upon her a gift so incomprehensible.
For many women, the moment of learning they're pregnant is a happiness incalculable. So when we say the "Hail Mary" we not only call to mind this immeasurably happy time for Our Lady, we call to mind this happy time for humanity as well, because as the Blessed Mother pointed out through St. Dominic, that first "Hail Mary" was the trumpet that sounded the calvary had arrived.
... Calvary ...
Until now, it never occurred to me how fitting it is that Christ died on Calvary. He truly was waging war against evil, and through that "last stand" He gained for us everlasting victory over death itself.
My heart has been humbled by so wondrous a thought.
As usual, I digress (but I thank the Holy Spirit for it this time).
Anyway, upon the Blessed Mother's acceptance of the news the Annunciation brought, Jesus was conceived within her (the Incarnation). So again, through the Angelic Salutation, Mary delivered her "Fiat" which, in turn, drew the Word of God into her womb. Thus, the Hail Mary prayer - ever echoing in thanks this most merciful act of God - is instrumental in helping us "fertilize" the earth. These prayers send a flourish of smiles across Our Lady's face because they remind her of a time so divinely precious that graces overflow in gratitude, raining down on souls as glorious, spiritual nourishment.
So I guess I'll be adding more to my Rosary series, especially for my CCD kids who are so hungry for these beautiful blessings of our Faith. If you, too, are interested in reading more about the Rosary, check out my sidebar and click on the "Rosary" heading under Categories. I've got a 4 part series (which will eventually stretch into about 12-15 parts) that delves into the most basic (and surprisingly misunderstood) understandings of this Advent Psalter.