Monthly Devotion: The Holy Rosary
Each month of the year has a specific devotion given to it for the life of the Church. October is The Holy Rosary and the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is October 7th. The origins of this feast day are a wonderful story in itself dating back to 1571. On October 7th, the Christians won a great sea battle against the Turks known as the Battle of Lepanto. St. Pius the V, the pope at the time, asked the faithful to pray the Rosary, and so he established the feast of Our Lady of Victories as a thanksgiving for Mary’s intercession in this conflict. In 1573 Pope Gregory XIII changed its name to the Feast of the Holy Rosary. For more of the story here is an article from Our Sunday Visitor: The Blessed Mother, the Rosary and the Battle of Lepanto. (October 7, 2018- to assist with the Google search)
That is all grand, but you may say to yourself this is 2023, and there is no eminent naval battle looming on our country’s horizon. How can this find a place in my life? Isn’t it easier just to go straight to Jesus with my prayers? The Rosary takes a long time. It is repetitive, and I zone out. I can never remember the mysteries. I start a Rosary and then I forget to finish it. The pronoun “I” was used because I, myself, have said every single one of them at some point in my prayer life; however, there is one inescapable fact. Mary brings us to her Son and the Rosary is a prayer that she has repeatedly asked her children to pray. (Okay, so there are two inescapable facts!)
At Fatima, Portugal in the early 1900s, Mary said to the three children, Lucia (10), Francisco (9), and Jacinta (7) “Pray the Rosary every day in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war.” Mary was directly speaking about the imminent world war, but “the war” can also refer to the daily fight against sin and temptation. Now that is a battle to which we can all relate. Jesus does not leave us unarmed. He sends us into battle with His Mother at our side. St. Padre Pio said, “Love the Madonna and pray the Rosary, for her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today. All graces given by God pass through the Blessed Mother.” Some communities of religious men and women, such as the Dominicans, wear a rosary as part of their habit. Typically, the rosary is worn on the left-hand side, at the waist where a soldier’s sword would have hung, back in the day. Maybe we who do not live within the limits of a monastery, but rather work and live in the world, should consider carrying a rosary in our left-hand pocket?
The Rosary is a longer prayer, it is repetitive, and there are 20 mysteries to remember. This is by design. To pray a set of 5 mysteries takes about 15 minutes…what a gift to pause life for 15 minutes, or for 3 minutes a day for five days of the week. The repetition of the Hail Mary is familiar, and touching the beads can be comforting, focusing, and calming. The 20 mysteries are a summary of God’s Love Letter to each one of us. With each mystery we are invited to think about, imagine, and place ourselves in an event in the life of Our Lord and Our Lady. Those ten Hail Mary’s become the musical score, the recurring, to each pivotal scene in the greatest love story ever told.
Fostering a personal relationship with Jesus is key to living as His disciple. Jesus has a personal relationship with each one of us. He laid His very life down so that each of us might have eternal and abundant life. It is up to each of us to respond to His act of love and grow in our own personal relationship with Jesus. How do you come to know the depth of love Jesus has for you? One sure way is Mary! She will show you. A prayer life is richly enhanced by a deep love for Jesus’ Blessed Mother. So, pray the Rosary. Lucia, the oldest of the Fatima children, with whom Mary spoke, has this to say, “…to pray the Rosary is something everybody can do, rich and poor, wise and ignorant, great and small.” (bolded for emphasis related to this article)
Mary brought Jesus into the world to us. Now, as Queen of Heaven and Earth, she brings us out of this world to Him. Her Rosary is a gift to us, and when we pray it well it becomes our gift to her.
Maybe you pray the Rosary daily, weekly, monthly, or when you remember. Maybe you have never felt drawn to this way of praying. After all, it isn’t necessary for salvation. However, it has been my experience that when my mother asked me to do something it was in my best interest to do it. During this month set aside for the life of the Church to focus on The Most Holy Rosary, this is your invitation to dust off those beads and give your Mother a call.
Here is a wonderful read on the Sisters of Carmel website that gives a history of the Rosary, the spiritual fruit of praying the Rosary, and the Promises Our Lady gave to St. Dominic: https://www.sistersofcarmel.com/rosary