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Why We Mark October As The Month Of The Rosary

September 26, 2018 Featured Today No Comments

By DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY

October is the month of the rosary, and of course October 13 is the anniversary day of the famous Miracle of the Sun on October 13, 1917, when at least 70,000 people who had gathered at the Cova da Iria in Fatima, at the place where our Lady appeared to the children, saw a tremendous miracle.
Pope Leo XIII (1878-1903) wrote numerous encyclicals promoting the rosary, and encouraged the practice of saying it every day in October. He was particularly wary of the influence of Freemasonry, and believed that the best way to combat this was to get Catholics to pray the rosary. He also added the invocation “Queen of the Most Holy Rosary” to the Litany of Loreto.
Recent Popes, too, including Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, and in particular Pope John Paul II, in his encyclical Rosarium Virginis Mariae of October 2002 — as well as Popes Benedict and Francis — have also strongly promoted the rosary as a means of deepening one’s faith and combating social evils.
And since our Lady requested during each of her six apparitions at Fatima that people should pray the rosary every day for peace in the world, and said of herself on October 13, 1917, “I am the Lady of the Rosary,” we know that it is a prayer she particularly favors.
Historically, too, the rosary has been very important. The Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary is celebrated on October 7, and was instituted following the victory of the Catholic Holy League, against the invasion fleet of the Ottoman Empire. This victory took place near Lepanto in the eastern Mediterranean on October 7, 1571. Pius V, the reigning Pope, had called for all to pray the rosary for success in this conflict, and the result was a great victory which prevented the invasion of Europe.
The power of the rosary was also graphically demonstrated more recently. The Franciscan Fr. Petrus Pavilcek, had organized a Rosary Crusade in Austria from 1946 onward. Eventually, ten percent of the population had enrolled in this and were praying five decades of the rosary daily for peace and the end of the Russian wartime occupation of the eastern part of the country. Fr. Pavilcek also organized candlelit processions in Vienna with a pilgrim Virgin statue of Our Lady from Fatima.
On May 13, 1955, it was announced that the Soviets were willing to withdraw from Austria and sign a peace treaty. This was the only time in the history of the Soviet Union that the Red Army voluntarily withdrew from a country it had occupied, and is compelling example of the power of the rosary, which has proved very fruitful for the Church and European civilization in the past.
The Popes have been particular supporters of the rosary. Pope Pius XII, in his 1951 encyclical on the Rosary, Ingruentium Malorum, showed how much he valued it in saying: “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” (n. 15).
He was succeeded by Pope John XXIII, who said the whole rosary, all 15 decades, every day. In his 1959 rosary encyclical, Grata Recordatio, he particularly urged the recitation of the rosary in October.
His successor in turn, Pope Paul VI, in speaking of the rosary in his 1966 encyclical Christi Matri, said: “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.”
As indicated above, Pope St. John Paul II was particularly devoted to the rosary, and in 2002 produced his own apostolic letter on it, Rosarium Virginis Mariae. He described the rosary as his favorite prayer, proclaimed a “Year of the Rosary,” from October 2002 to October 2003, and instituted the new “Mysteries of Light.”
In Rosarium Virginis Mariae he said: “The Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer…it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium.”
And in his homily at Fatima on May 13, 1982, he said that the rosary is Mary’s prayer, “in which . . . she herself prays with us. Take care of your inheritance of faith . . . do you want me to teach you the secret of keeping it? It is simple, Pray, pray very much, pray, recite the rosary every day.”
And Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have likewise both recommended the praying of the rosary.
Apart from that, the rosary has been commended by many saints and holy people.
St. Louis de Montfort, the well-known Marian saint, said in his Secret of the Rosary, “When the Rosary is well said, it gives Jesus and Mary more glory and is more meritorious for the soul than any other prayer.”
He also said, “If you say the Rosary faithfully until death, I do assure you that, in spite of the gravity of your sins you shall receive a never-fading crown of glory.”
St. Padre Pio commended the rosary and devotion to our Lady as follows: “Some people are so foolish that they think they can go through life without the help of the Blessed Mother. 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.”
Pope St. Pius X remarked that, “The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God . . . and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.”
And Sr. Lucia of Fatima said, “The Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the rosary to such an extent that there is no problem.…I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.”
Of course, we have to make an effort to pray the rosary well, and not just mechanically recite it, which, unfortunately, is all too easy. The aim should really be to go beyond the words and meditate on the mysteries. In his apostolic exhortation, Marialis Cultus, on Devotion to the Blessed Virgin, Pope Paul VI said that the rosary without meditation is a body without a soul.
If we are praying the rosary with other people, it is good at the beginning of each mystery to announce the intention for which we are praying. And the aim should be to pray the rosary in a spirit of contemplation, with reverence and without haste, so that we can meditate on the mysteries of our Lord’s life as seen through the eyes His Mother, who shared so intimately with Him in the pivotal moments of His ministry.
This October is a good time to begin again to pray the rosary with full devotion. If we do that we will surely call down God’s blessings on our families, our Church, and the whole world.

+ + +

(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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