Today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary. At Blackfriars, Oxford we followed the beautiful Dominican tradition of blessing and handing out roses at Mass on this day.
In his homily, the Prior, Fr John O'Connor OP, highlighted the 'simple and simplifying' nature of the Rosary as a form of prayer. It is a way of praying that maintains a delicate balance between gentle activity (the words, the beads) and receptive contemplation; between the repetition of the prayers and our ever-deepening meditation on the mysteries of our redemption in Christ.
The words of blessing spoken by the priest over the roses are a lovely evocation of the grace we have received in Christ, whom the Blessed Virgin brought into the world, and run as follows:
Blessing of Roses
For the Feast of Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary
From the Dominican Breviary
O God, Creator and Preserver of the human race, who grant us the Holy Spirit with His seven-fold gifts, and who generously bestow eternal salvation:
Sanctify, we pray, and bless these roses.
We present them before You today, and seek Your blessing upon them, to express our thanks to You, and our devotion towards the blessed Ever-Virgin Mary and her Rosary.
You created these roses as a source of pleasant fragrance and gave them to us to lift our spirits. Then through the power of the holy Cross pour out upon them Your heavenly + blessing.
Signed by the holy + Cross may they receive so powerful a blessing that in the houses and hospitals where they are taken the sick may be healed. From the places where they are kept may the powers of evil flee in fear and terror, nor may they presume again to disturb Your servants.
We ask this through Christ our Lord.