I was born and raised in England. For over forty years the Caribbean island of Grenada has been the context, the environment, of my priesthood. In this beautiful setting I have been fulfilled and challenged. Here I have felt ‘at home’ and yet ‘home-sick.’ Lofty mountains, golden beaches, grim fortresses and interesting buildings have been my friends. My somewhat stiff English body has learned to sway to the beat of the drum and the steel pan. My ears have become attuned to the rhythm of Calypso and Reggae. I have known the tense, bewildered excitement of the rise and fall of a Revolution and the fear-filled insecurity of a hurricane blasting, grinding, my home, my church, into rubble.
When members of my family and their friends have come to visit me it has been my joy and my pride to ‘show them around.’ I’ve introduced them to ‘MY’ Grenada. What they’ve perceived through the lens of my experience has had a texture that has fitted well around the detailed information, the spectacular photos that can be found at any Travel Agency or on any computer.
They’ve seen the face of this tropical island through my eyes. Through my soul, my heat-beat they’ve felt something of its throb, its heart-beat.
It could be that I’m claiming too much for myself. After all, in spite of my many years in this part of the world I will always be a ‘stranger in paradise.’ I shall never, ever, have that understanding that belongs to those whose grounding, culture, mind-set, and inborn attachment and loyalty are rooted in the local soil.
It was in 2002 that Pope John Paul 11 gave to world the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. In so doing he shared with us these inspiring sentiments, "With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. Through the Rosary the faithful receive abundant grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer… To recite the Rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ.”
Mary was there! She saw it all, she felt it all, she lived it all with her Son, Jesus, and now she shares it all with us as we meditate upon everything associated with the Word of God becoming flesh-of Mary’s flesh, and dwelling amongst us – as a child shares his life, his very self with his mother.
At the moment of writing, through my very being courses the question of the Lenten hymn, “Where you there when they…?” Then follows the response, “Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.” Yes! Mary was there with Jesus through it all. Sometimes she must have trembled with excitement and joy; at others she was there trembling with fear, sorrow, and horror. Luke in his Gospel wrote that after the shepherds departed from the stable outside Bethlehem ‘As for Mary, she treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart,(2.19). I detect here an intensity of feeling that she dearly wants to share with us.
Through the lens of her own experience she leads us into the Mystery that was the life, death and glorification of her Son, Jesus-for our sake and for our salvation.
I dare to suggest to you that I have journeyed with the people of Grenada for many of the significant years of its history. The pulse of my emotions has throbbed with something of the same pounding as has their own. I dare to suggest that because ‘I was there.’ I have been able to share with others something of what all this has meant to me.
The vocation, the mission, of Mary who was ‘There’ throughout the whole of the ‘Jesus Story’ is now to share with us all that it meant to her personally. This is far more than an emotional autobiography. For Mary, for you and for me this is to a spiritual journey of discovery in which we discover Jesus and in so doing discover ourselves. This is what reciting the Rosary, by the grace of God, can do for us.
Peter Clarke, OP