Regína sacratíssimi Rosárii, ora pro nobis!

Ave Maria!
Our Lady of the Rosary—4 October AD 2008

A sculpture over the entrance to the Basilica of the Rosary at Lourdes
depicts the Virgin Mary giving the rosary to St. Dominic. Photo (cc)  Br Lawrence Lew, OP  [1]

The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in Latin and English
Our Lady of the Rosary
Sacratissimi Rosarii Beatæ Mariæ Virginis
Blessing of Rosaries

    The Blessed Virgin Mary has been identified with the chaplet of beads known as the Rosary at least since the 13th century, when it was revealed to Saint Dominic. Since that time, it has served as one of the chief symbols of the help which we receive from our Blessed Mother to increase our holiness, and to protect us from the evils of the world.

    It was given to Saint Dominic with the immediate purpose of delivering the people of France from the Albigensian heresy—a false system of belief which pretended to tell the faithful that only spiritual things were good; that all material things were evil. This heresy was driving people away from the Church; and driving them toward despair. They either tried to do the impossible and refrain from all physical things—or they simply determined that it was all hopeless and it did not matter what they did.

    The Rosary was particularly effective in combating this illusion, for it continually called to mind the earthly events of the lives of our Lord and Lady, thereby demonstrating that material things could be very good indeed. and, of course, its appeal to spiritual things showed the people that it was possible for a human being to function effectively in both the spiritual and material realms.

    Armed with the weapon of the Rosary, Saint Dominic's friars established houses throughout the known world, and contributed generously to the spiritual and intellectual life of western civilization. Men and women like Albert the Great, Thomas Aquinas, Catherine of Siena, Pope Pius V, Martin de Porres, Rose of Lima, and many others followed in the footsteps of the founder—some intellectuals, some workers, some mystics, some leaders, some followers—but all praying the Rosary.

    And, lest anyone think that the Rosary is something for Dominican religious only, it should be pointed out that its greatest popularity came as a form of prayer for the laity. The Rosary is similar in structure to the Divine Office, but not requiring any knowledge of the Latin language, or even the ability to read. The 150 Psalms of the Office are replaced by “Hail Marys” with each decade ending in the “Glory be to the Father,” just like the Psalms of the Office. The Rosary can be recited anywhere and at any time, even when it would be physically impossible to read from a book. In the dark, under water, on horseback, while driving a car, or perhaps in prison for the Faith.

    This devotion to our Lady, and to her Rosary has been rewarded on many occasions. In fact, the feast day which we celebrate today commemorates the successful defense of the Christian fleet against the Moslems on the first Sunday in October of 1571. Naval forces under Don John of Austria battled the Turks on the water, while Pope St. Pius V led the faithful of Europe in the recitation of the Rosary. Similar circumstances surrounding the defense of Vienna from Moslem invasion in 1716 caused Clement XI to extend this feast to the entire Church.

    Even in our own time, we have been told at places like Fatima and Lourdes, that the praying of the Rosary is essential for the spiritual and material well being of the entire world. If we do not amend our sinful ways, and make reparation to the Hearts of Jesus and Mary, the errors of Marxism will continue to spread throughout the Church and the world, and we all will have a great deal to suffer.

    Unfortunately, some of our people have been poorly instructed as to the proper use and appreciation of the Rosary. All too often they understand it as nothing more than a “praying marathon” — some 50, or 100, or a 150 prayers—prayers to be said as quickly as possible in an effort to rack up a big total—almost like striving for points in an arcade game; big numbers that mean nothing. Some have come to use it like a Buddhist prayer wheel—manage to get once around the circle, and God will somehow be impressed with our devotion. Perhaps even worse, many carry it in their pocket, or hanging from their rear view mirror, as nothing more than a magic amulet.

    The real "secret" of the Rosary, if it can properly be called a secret, is the meditation on the events in the lives of Jesus and Mary—the “mysteries” —so called, not again because they are secret or hidden, but because they produce a constant unfolding of religious understanding, inspiration, and grace for those who meditate upon them.

    We meditate on the Joyful events in our Lord's life; the Annunciation, Visitation, His Birth, His Presentation in the Temple, and His being found in the Temple in Jerusalem; in order to understand the preparations made for our salvation, to absorb some of His humility, and simply to share the joy of His birth here among us.

    We consider the Sorrowful events of His life; the Agony in the Garden, His Scourging, the Crowning with thorns, Carrying the Cross to Calvary, and dying on the Cross; in order to develop an understanding of the magnitude of sin, to develop true repentance for being the cause of His suffering, and eternal gratitude for our salvation.

    Finally, we pray the Glorious mysteries; the Resurrection, the Ascension, the Descent of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, the Assumption of our Blessed Lady, and her Crowning as Queen of Heaven. These things give us an appreciation of God's Glory, and give us a foretaste of the glory we will share with Him in heaven.

    And, of course, there is nothing wrong with meditating on other events of our salvation, even though they are not "officially" mysteries of the Rosary. The Transfiguration, the Immaculate Conception, or the Institution of the Blessed Sacrament, for example.

    The essential thing is that while our lips are busied with the “Our Fathers” and “Hail Marys,” and our hands are busied with the beads, our minds are freed from distraction, and we are able to train them on sacred realities. We are able to bring our lives closer to the lives of Jesus and Mary, sharing their experiences; we are able to bring our wills into conformity with the will of God; we are able to develop patience with our difficulties, and tranquility amidst our turmoil. We are able to develop a regular routine of prayer.

    Again, let me emphasize that the Rosary should never be a contest of speed or numbers. If your time, or your attention span is limited, you would do much better to meditate on only one or two of the mysteries—but to pray them well. If the Rosary is new to you, or if you have been away from it for a long time, start slowly. A decade or two. Perhaps one in the morning, and one at night. Pick a specific time, and stick to it. Add another decade or so when you have time... in the car, at the market, whenever there is an idle moment.

    Don't forget that the primary effort should be on meditation on the life of Christ, and His Blessed Mother. Reading the Gospels, or some book of Rosary meditations will help a great deal. No one can meditate on something which they don't know.

    The point, though, in all of this, is to get you to pray the Rosary. It is a very simple thing to start out with but a decade a day, and quickly to grow to 5 or more decades. All it takes is a little discipline, and a few moments a day—time that is often wasted anyway; or worse, spent in impatience.

    The Church generously grants indulgences to those who pray the Rosary; our Lady grants her protection and example of holiness; we develop patience and tranquility—a more ordered life; our will draws closer and closer to the Will of God; and we find our place in the Kingdom of Heaven.





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