Today, Wednesday 7 October 2021, the Church celebrates the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. In the silence of my heart Pope Francis’ words, which he spoke during his general audience of October 2, 2020, still echo in my heart of hearts: Today is the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. Especially during this month of October, I invite everyone to rediscover the beauty of praying the Rosary, which has nourished the faith of Christian people throughout the centuries.
Our Christian faith is supported, promoted and fortified by the Rosary. As Pope St John Paul II excellently teaches us in his majestic apostolic letter on the Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae: 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 (no.1).
Mary’s most powerful intercession makes of the Rosary a very powerful spiritual weapon. It is interesting that countless number of Popes highly recommended it to be prayed. St Pope John Paul II makes this point so clear in his apostolic letter on the Rosary! He said:
Numerous predecessors of mine attributed great importance to this prayer. Worthy of special note in this regard is Pope Leo XIII who on 1 September 1883 promulgated the Encyclical Supremi Apostolatus Officio, a document of great worth, the first of his many statements about this prayer, in which he proposed the Rosary as an effective spiritual weapon against the evils afflicting society. Among the more recent Popes who, from the time of the Second Vatican Council, have distinguished themselves in promoting the Rosary I would mention Blessed John XXIII and above all Pope Paul VI, who in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis Cultus emphasized, in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, the Rosary’s evangelical character and its Christocentric inspiration. I myself have often encouraged the frequent recitation of the Rosary. From my youthful years this prayer has held an important place in my spiritual life. I was powerfully reminded of this during my recent visit to Poland, and in particular at the Shrine of Kalwaria. The Rosary has accompanied me in moments of joy and in moments of difficulty. To it I have entrusted any number of concerns; in it I have always found comfort. Twenty-four years ago, on 29 October 1978, scarcely two weeks after my election to the See of Peter, I frankly admitted: “The Rosary is my favourite prayer. A marvellous prayer! Marvellous in its simplicity and its depth. […]. It can be said that the Rosary is, in some sense, a prayer-commentary on the final chapter of the Vatican II Constitution Lumen Gentium, a chapter which discusses the wondrous presence of the Mother of God in the mystery of Christ and the Church. Against the background of the words Ave Maria the principal events of the life of Jesus Christ pass before the eyes of the soul. They take shape in the complete series of the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries, and they put us in living communion with Jesus through – we might say – the heart of his Mother. At the same time our heart can embrace in the decades of the Rosary all the events that make up the lives of individuals, families, nations, the Church, and all mankind. Our personal concerns and those of our neighbour, especially those who are closest to us, who are dearest to us. Thus the simple prayer of the Rosary marks the rhythm of human life” (no.2).
Let us just remind ourselves the highly rich reflections great saints left to us, throughout the centuries, on the Rosary.
St Pio said: The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times. With the Rosary the world is won over to Christ. Blessed Pius IX affirmed: Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world. The Rosary is the best way of praying. St Francis de Sales said: The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary. The Rosary is the weapon against the evils around us. Again, St Pio said: 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. This heartfelt conviction led St Pio to state and encourage you and me: Go to the Madonna. Love her! Always say the Rosary. Say it well. Say it as often as you can! Be souls of prayer. Never tire of praying, it is what is essential. Prayer shakes the Heart of God, it obtains necessary graces!
The Rosary is extremely effective. St Josemaria Escriva assures us with these holy words: The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results. The Rosary liberates us from the monotony of our sins. Again, this Spanish saint says: Say the Holy Rosary. Blessed be that monotony of Hail Mary’s which purifies the monotony of your sins! The Rosary help us enter into God’s presence. Escriva says: You always leave the Rosary for later, and you end up not saying it at all because you are sleepy. If there is no other time, say it in the street without letting anybody notice it. It will, moreover, help you to have presence of God.
The Rosary is the prayer of peace. Pope Pius XI said: The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin…If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors. The Rosary liberates us from vainglory and pride. Once more, St Josemaria Escriva says: For those who use their intelligence and their study as a weapon, the Rosary is most effective. Because that apparently monotonous way of beseeching Our Lady as children do their Mother, can destroy every seed of vainglory and pride.
Encouraged by these gems of Christian spiritual reflection on the Rosary let us rediscover its beauty and power in each and every day of our earthly lives!