March 11March 11 Editorial: The rosary and the power of prayer (October 7, 2022)

October 7, 2022


The rosary and the power of prayer

Like May, October is a month where the Blessed Mother is at the center of our Church calendar.

In Catholic tradition, the entire month of October is dedicated to the holy rosary. This monthlong observance is largely due to the liturgical feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, which is celebrated on Oct. 7.

Initially known as Our Lady of Victory, the feast day marks a 16th-century naval victory which saved Europe against a Turkish invasion. Crew members on more than 200 ships of the Holy League—Genoa, Spain and the Papal States—prayed the rosary on Oct. 7, 1571, in preparation for the battle, as did Catholics throughout Europe, encouraged by Pope St. Pius V to gather in their churches to invoke the Virgin Mary against the Turkish forces. The Christian victory over the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Lepanto on that day is credited with saving Western Europe.

The then-Holy Father said people of faith owed the victory to the Blessed Virgin, and the feast offers an example where our Blessed Mother interceded for God’s people.

There are many other examples of the Virgin Mary answering prayers for us. Popes throughout the Church’s history have displayed a strong devotion to the Blessed Mother.

In October of 2002, Pope St. John Paul II released his apostolic letter, “Rosarium Virginia Mariae” (“The Rosary of the Virgin Mary”). With the family and society in mind, its aim was to help the Church rediscover the beauty and power of the rosary, which the Holy Father hoped would lead to a greater practice of prayer, a closer walk with Christ and a more lasting peace in the world (#40-41).

In the apostolic letter, St. John Paul also introduced the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary. The new set of mysteries focuses on Jesus’ public ministry between his baptism and Passion, and includes the Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, the Wedding at Cana, the Proclamation of the Kingdom of God, the Transfiguration and the Institution of the Eucharist. The Luminous Mysteries are prayed on Thursdays.

“To recite the rosary is nothing other than to contemplate with Mary the face of Christ,” the pope wrote (#3). “The rosary, precisely because it starts with Mary’s own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative prayer.”

He later wrote, “If Jesus, the one Mediator, is the Way of our prayer, then Mary, his purest and most transparent reflection, shows us the Way. Beginning with Mary’s unique cooperation with the working of the Holy Spirit, the Churches developed their prayer to the Holy Mother of God, centering it on the person of Christ manifested in his mysteries” (#16).

In his book, Mother Mary: Inspiring Words from Pope Francis, our current Holy Father calls the rosary “a simple, contemplative prayer, accessible to all, great and small.”

“In the rosary, we turn to the Virgin Mary so that she may guide us to an ever-closer union with her Son Jesus to bring us into conformity with him, to have his sentiments and to behave like him,” Pope Francis wrote. “Indeed, in the rosary while we repeat the Hail Mary we meditate on the mysteries, on the events of Christ’s life, so as to know and love him ever better. The rosary is an effective means for opening ourselves to God, for it helps us to overcome egotism and to bring peace to hearts, in the family, in society and in the world.”

Family, society and the world are always appropriate prayer intentions for the rosary. And as we continue to see the chaos and heartache that surround many—including inflation that is hurting Americans and others across the globe, Hurricane Ian that devastated parts of southwest and central Florida, and Russia’s unjust invasion of Ukraine—we must envelop our brothers and sisters in Christ in prayer.

Prayer is a universal language. May we use the rosary and other petitions this month and beyond to make sure the needs of our families, society and the world are never forgotten.

—Mike Krokos

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