The Marian Month of October: Remember the Rosary
One of the many gifts that Mother Church gives is monthly focuses for our devotional life as Catholics. Most of these are linked to a particular feast day which falls within the month and gives a sort of ‘devotional color’ to the month as a whole. Many of these monthly emphases direct our attention to Our Lady, who is ever present as Mother of the Church and of all who believe.
With her feast celebrated on September 15th, during the month of September, I often invited a turn to Our Lady of Sorrows for the much needed healing, restoration and purification in the life of the Church. I tried to often weave the prayer of the “Hail Mary” or “Hail, Holy Queen” into the Masses that I celebrated either following the Universal Prayer (or petitions) at Mass, following Holy Communion or at the conclusion of Mass. With maternal care Our Lady draws close to those who have been victims of abuse as well as to all of us who are shaken, dismayed and discouraged by revelations of impropriety, misconduct and mishandling of cases of sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy. We strive to keep faith with Mary who was steady beneath Christ’s Cross at Calvary. She continues to keep watch and comfort the suffering members of the flock—both sinners and those who have been sinned against. Mary is uniquely attuned to the mercy of her Son so sorely needed by a sinful race and she cannot abandon us.
September gives way each year to October, and with it the Church remembers the remarkable gift of the Holy Rosary as one of the greatest means of ‘going to Our Lady’ in intercession, seeking her protection and asking for strength. 25 years ago, our parish Adoration Chapel was founded on the Feast of the Holy Rosary (October 7th) in the Holy Cross convent chapel. This weekend we celebrate the gift of that powerful place set aside for prayer for this quarter century from which many graces have flowed into our parish, our neighborhood and the lives of countless adorers. I wonder how many rosaries have been prayed quietly and trustingly in that chapel through these many years. Surely too many to count!
The twenty mysteries that make up the ‘content’ of the prayer of the Rosary have been eloquently described by St. John Paul II as a “compendium of the Gospel…because [they] convey the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety”. How much we need the entirety of the Gospel right now! How important to understand that to speak of the entirety of the Gospel is to note the joys, sorrows, lights and glories that are always interwoven throughout our lives as individual believers, for us as a parish, a local Archdiocese and for the Church as whole.
The Rosary is a great means of prayer of the heart, much deeper than the sum of the formulaic, verbal prayers that make it up. It has become, at the darkest moments for the Church, a means of support and hope for faithful and clergy alike. Let us together take up the Rosary together, especially in this month of October. We have simple guides that explain how to pray the rosary and free rosaries available at all of our campuses.
In this weekend’s Gospel we hear Christ inviting the children to come to him. This invitation was renewed and intensified by Our Lady when she appeared a hundred years ago in Fatima, Portugal to three young children. Reflecting back on her experience of the Blessed Mother years before Sister Lucia, one of the visionaries of Fatima who died in 2005 explained: “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, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families...that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the holy Rosary.” This invitation is for us and it is a very timely invitation for the Church today.
The Apostleship of Prayer, which serves as a worldwide network of prayer under the guidance of the Holy Father, recently published an invitation for believers to pray the Rosary every day during the month of October: “With this request for intercession the Holy Father asks the faithful of all the world to pray that the Holy Mother of God place the Church beneath her protective mantle: to preserve her from the attacks by the devil, the great accuser, and at the same time to make her more aware of the faults, the errors and the abuses committed in the present and in the past, and committed to combating without any hesitation, so that evil may not prevail.” The Rosary is a great weapon for spiritual battle, as its decisive place in the miraculous victory in the naval battle at Lepanto on October 7, 1571 attests. To the Rosary, Pope Francis asked that two particular prayers be joined: one of the most ancient of the Marian prayers, the Sub Tuum Praesidium and the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel of Pope Leo XIII. I include them here in both Latin and English for your use.
“Sub tuum praesidium confugimus Sancta Dei Genitrix. Nostras deprecationes ne despicias in necessitatibus, sed a periculis cunctis libera nos semper, Virgo Gloriosa et Benedicta”. [We fly to thy protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin].
“Sancte Michael Archangele, defende nos in proelio; contra nequitiam et insidias diaboli esto praesidium. Imperet illi Deus, supplices deprecamur: tuque, Princeps militiae caelestis, Satanam aliosque spiritus malignos, qui ad perditionem animarum pervagantur in mundo, divina virtute, in infernum detrude. Amen”. [Saint Michael Archangel, defend us in battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil; may God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, O Prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen].
These are troubling times, but there is great cause for hope. We can consider the Rosary as the chain which connects us to the anchor of the Cross which gives us hope and stability. Blessed Bartolo Longo, a great Italian champion of the Rosary who died in 1926, used this very image: “O Blessed Rosary of Mary, sweet chain which unites us to God, bond of love which unites us to the angels, tower of salvation against the assaults of Hell, safe port in our universal shipwreck, we will never abandon you…”
United in praying the Holy Rosary,