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October, Month Of The Rosary… How Praying The Rosary Has Changed History

October 7, 2017 Featured Today No Comments

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY

Now that the Fatima Centenary year is drawing to a close, it’s good to remind ourselves about the essential points of the Fatima message, and particularly in this month of October, the month devoted to the rosary, to look again at the importance of the rosary in the life of the Church.
At Fatima between May and October 1917, our Lady spoke to the three young seers, Jacinta and Francisco Marto, and Lucia dos Santos, quite insistently and emphatically about the rosary.
On May 13, 1917, she said, “Pray the rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and an end to the war,” and this message was repeated by her over the summer, culminating in her October 13 apparition when she said, “I am the Lady of the rosary. Continue always to pray the rosary every day.”
For her to emphasize the rosary in this way must mean it has an extraordinary power with God, and this is just what history tells us. For example, there are historical incidents such as the defeat of the Albigensian heresy by St. Dominic in the early thirteenth century through the power of the rosary, or the victory gained by Christian forces at the battle of Lepanto in 1571, again through the power of the rosary.
But this power has also been demonstrated more recently, too, and particularly in 1955, when, following World War II, the occupying Soviet Army voluntarily left the Eastern zone of Austria, after Fr. Petrus Pavilcek, a Franciscan, organized a rosary Crusade from 1946 onwards. This had ten percent of the population of 7 million praying five decades of the rosary daily for peace in the country.
The result was that on May 13, 1955 (the anniversary date of the first apparition at Fatima) the Russians announced that they would withdraw from Austria and sign a peace treaty. This didn’t happen with the attempted revolutions in the neighboring countries of Hungary, in 1956, and Czechoslovakia, in 1968, which were both brutally put down.
These incidents show that while it is good to pray the rosary as an individual, it is far more powerful if we pray it as part of a group. This was the teaching of St. Louis de Montfort, who said in his book, The Secret of the Rosary (131, 132) that if we do this, then its effectiveness is multiplied. “Of all the ways of saying the holy Rosary, the most glorious to God, most salutary to our souls, and the most terrible to the devil is that of saying or chanting the Rosary publicly in two choirs. This way of praying is of the greatest benefit to us. . . . One who says his Rosary alone only gains the merit of one Rosary; but if he says it with thirty other people he gains the merit of thirty Rosaries.”
This is the explanation for the power of all those rosaries said in Austria.
And in fact, something like what happened in Austria is needed in the United States and indeed around the world, and that is a National Rosary Pledge campaign. If Catholics start to pray the rosary regularly for the moral regeneration of the country, then we would start to see real changes.
The above facts have important consequences for the Church. If Catholics are saying the rosary regularly with devotion then that in itself brings down important heavenly graces on them and their families. And at the same time, as our Lady said, it is the means she gives us to bring about peace in the world.
Recent Popes have been zealous supporters of the rosary. Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) urged Catholics to pray it, and issued a record 11 encyclicals on the rosary. He also promoted its public recitation in October, and added the invocation “Queen of the Most Holy Rosary” to the Litany of Loreto.
In his great rosary encyclical Octobri Mense, he said that the rosary “recalls to our minds the great mysteries of Jesus and Mary united in joys, sorrows, and triumphs. The contemplation of these august mysteries, contemplated in their order, affords to faithful souls a wonderful confirmation of faith, protection against the disease of error, and increase of the strength of the soul.”
Pope Benedict XV (1914-1922), who was Pope when the apparitions at Fatima took place, ensured that the invocation “Queen of Peace” was added to the Litany of Loreto. In an encyclical on St. Dominic issued in 1921, he spoke of how “the Roman Pontiffs have let pass no occasion of commending the Rosary and have enriched it with Apostolic Indulgences.”
Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), emphasized, too, the power and importance of the rosary, saying in 1951, “We do not hesitate to affirm again publicly that We put great confidence in the Holy Rosary for the healing of evils which afflict our times.”
Pope John XXIII, who succeeded Pius XII, was particularly devoted to the rosary, and said all fifteen decades daily. He also issued an encyclical on it in which he urged the recitation of the rosary, particularly during the month of October.
Pope Paul VI, too, emphasized the rosary, saying in 1966 that, “If evils increase, the devotion of the People of God should also increase….This prayer is well-suited to the devotion of the People of God, most pleasing to the Mother of God and most effective in gaining heaven’s blessings.”
Pope John Paul II, was likewise very keen to promote the rosary, and, acknowledging his own devotion to it, he proclaimed the year from October 2002 to October 2003 the “Year of the Rosary,” and also instituted the “Mysteries of Light.” These new mysteries were introduced in his encyclical letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, in which he emphasized the importance of praying the rosary for Catholics, saying:
“The rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer. In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium. It is an echo of the prayer of Mary, her perennial Magnificat for the work of the redemptive Incarnation which began in her virginal womb.
“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.”
Pope Benedict similarly promoted the rosary, saying, “With the Rosary . . . we let ourselves be guided by Mary, the model of faith, in meditating on the mysteries of Christ, and day after day we are helped to assimilate the Gospel so that it gives form to our whole life.”
And Pope Francis, too, has spoken warmly of the rosary. “I want to recommend some medicine for all of you. It’s a spiritual medicine,” he said on one occasion, holding up a white medicine box containing a rosary. “Don’t forget to take it. It’s good for your heart, for your soul, for your whole life.”
So, for well over a hundred years, the Popes have been urging the faithful to pray the rosary, echoing the appeal of Our Lady of Fatima, at each of her six apparitions, that we should pray the rosary every day to bring peace to the world.
In this Fatima centenary year, and in the future, let’s do our best to listen to her requests, and really take the rosary to heart.

+ + +

(Donal Anthony Foley is the author of a number of books on Marian Apparitions, and maintains a related website at www.theotokos.org.uk. He has also a written two time-travel/adventure books for young people — details can be found at: http://glaston-chronicles.co.uk/.)

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