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The Power Of This Prayer

The Power Of This Prayer

“The Church has always attributed particular efficacy to this prayer, entrusting to the Rosary, to it’s choral recitation and to it’s constant practice, the most difficult problems. At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, it’s deliverance was attributed to the power of this prayer, and Our Lady of the Rosary was acclaimed as the one whose intercession brought salvation.”

– Pope John Paul II, ‘Rosarium Virginis Mariae’

The story is told of a young businessman travelling on a train. In his train cabin, there was an elderly gentleman, gently moving the beads of his Rosary through his fingers as he quietly prayed. The younger man was horrified that in the Age of Reason, such superstition was still to be seen. He chided the elderly man, telling him that science had made religion outdated and unneccessary. “Really?”, asked the older man, “and how did you come to learn that?”. The younger of the two was not properly able to answer his travelling companion, but suggested that he might send the elder man some reading material later, once home. The older man smiled. The younger man asked for an address to which he could send the material promised, and the elder gentleman, Rosary still in his hand, took a business card from the pocket of his overcoat. His companion read the name inscribed upon it – ‘Louis Pasteur, Paris Institute of Scientific Research’.

We tend to see things in a very short-sighted way; we often believe (quite erroneously,of course) that we have suddenly come upon the answers to all the great questions of life, that our opinion trumps the wisdom of the ages; in short, that we know best. Believing this is almost always a sign that we are in error.

The Church, on the other hand, tends to take a much longer look at things, and she sees situations, events, currents and trends, with the wisdom she has accumulated over the last two millenia – ably assisted, of course, by the light and grace of the Holy Spirit.

For a very long time now, and in a perfectly consistent manner, the Church has continusouly recommended to us the prayer of the Rosary – a seemingly simple but deeply profound prayer; one suited to all the situations of life, encompassing as it does the various joys, sorrows and glories of the Lord and His Mother. The prayer of the Rosary is also enormlously powerful – powerful enough to secure victory in temporal matters, powerful enough to prevent and to shorten wars, and powerful enough to touch the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to whom the prayers are addressed, asking Her, in turn, to touch the Heart of Her Son on our behalf.

The Rosary is also the prayer which She Herself continually asks us to pray – it is, therefore, within the grasp of all, rich or poor, simple person of faith or great theologian, Priest or lay-person, adult or child.

Knowing this, then, how could we refuse to meet Her request?

 

A Beautiful Monotony

A Beautiful Monotony

Image: ‘The Annunciation’ by Frederick James Shields

‘Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee!’ No creature has ever said anything that was more pleasing to Me, nor will anyone ever be able to find or say to Me anything that pleases Me more.”

– Our Blessed Lady to Saint Mechtilde

Anyone who has ever been in love will have experienced that moment when the heart feels the urge to say ‘I love you’ to the beloved – and to say it not only once, but over and over again. It is as though saying the words makes the love real; and the reality of the love invites the vocalisation of the words. The words are repeated many times – and meant completely on every occasion. Each time, they are new and vital, even if they have been said a thousand times before. Repetition does not diminish nor devalue them. They issue forth from a heart filled with love.

In many senses, it is exactly the same with the Rosary.

St Josemaria Escriva described the praying of the Rosary as a “blessed monotony of Hail Marys” – by this, he meant that what seems so simple on the surface, actually expresses something so deep; the very words contain the depth of our love.

St Pio of Pietrelcina had not hesitation in recommending souls to pray this heavenly prayer – “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”. 

A soul cannot properly and authentically claim to love the Blessed Virgin if it does not do the single thing She requests of us time and time again – “pray the Rosary every day”.

When we love, we give the beloved our time, both freely and willingly, never counting the cost. To pray the Rosary takes only thirty minutes of our day – very little in a day of twenty four hours. Love changes our perception, too – what may at first seem to be something of a labour, seems to become a moment of joy, a moment we often wish could last forever. Those thirty minutes become the sweetest of the entire day, the moment we look forward to most of all.

As times passes, we come to realise that our time spent praying the Rosary is a moment of great peace and tranquility, no matter the turmoil, strife or anxiety that may exist outwith those moments. The reason for this is very simple – in praying the Rosary, we are spending time in the company of the Mother of God. We may neither see nor hear Her, but She is there regardless of that, and Her motherly eyes ar upon us throughout as we recommend ourselves to Her in the praying of our beads. 

Our Rosary will bring us ever closer to the Virgin – and She, in turn, will do as She always does; bring us ever closer to Her Divine Son. For She is never the destination, but the road that leads there; not the goal, but the compass pointing the way.

Pope St John XXIII said “The Rosary is a school for learning true Christian perfection” – and our teacher is the most perfect of all, for it is the Mother of the Lord, She who taught the Divine Redeemer in His sacred humanity as He grew from childhood to manhood.

Like most valuable lessons, this one – of ‘true Christian perfection’ – takes time and it takes perseverance. We do not value what we gain too easily, and so it is good to pray over and over for our needs and our intentions. And this is the beauty of the Rosary – we can take up our beads over and over again, praying vocally whilst we meditate interiorly on the Mysteries we proclaim, going ever deeper into the pool of heavenly water. And in doing so, we imitate the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who “treasured all these things and pondered them in Her Heart” (cf.Lk.2:51).

Dearest Mother, Queen of the Holy Rosary, let us sit quietly at Your feet, and there, in Your own school of holiness, may You teach us the mysteries of the life of Your Son, Our Lord.

 

Walk With Mary

Walk With Mary

“The Rosary is the weapon!”
– Saint Pio of Pietrelcina

Life is truly a constant spiritual battle against our three prevailing enemies – the self, the devil and the world. Thankfully, Christ the Lord has already won the war, even if we still must fight patiently our own battles until the end of our days. In His great generosity and compassion, the Lord sends us His own Mother to stand along with us in every moment of this spiritual warfare, to be a Mother to us in the order of grace, as She is to Him in the order of nature. This is Her duty, given Her at the foot of the Cross, and She fulfils it perfectly even now, in Heaven.

Ever faithful to Her task, the Blessed Virgin offers us numerous ways of vanquishing these three great enemies which pursue us during life, so that we may remain faithful to Her Son and be with Him in eternity. Examples of this are Her many approved appearances at various points in human history, and also the great Sacramentals which She gives us, and which are approved and encouraged by the Church, such as the Brown Scapular of Mount Carmel and the Miraculous Medal.

But greatest amongst all the Marian Sacramentals is the holy Rosary. It has constantly received great approbation from the Church and has the fullest recommendation from the Saints, who have always found it to be a marvellous vessel of grace in attaining true sanctity of life and holiness in death.

The beauty of the Rosary is it’s simplicity – anyone can pray the Rosary, comprised as it is of the three great prayers of our Faith; the prayer of the Lord Himself in the ‘Our Father’; the Angelic salutation and lovesong of God for the Blessed Virgin, in the ‘Hail Mary’; and the praise of the Triune God in the ‘Glory Be’.

These three prayers, of course, are the ‘body’ of the Rosary – to truly bring it to life and enjoy it’s power, it requires a ‘soul’; this soul is the meditation which accompanies the vocal prayers. In this meditation, our hearts, minds, senses, will and soul are lifted up to God.

There are many ways of meditating upon the Mysteries of the Rosary, such as the Scriptural Rosary given here previously. There are also a great many books and pamphlets available to buy and online, many of which are very salutary, often offering slightly different methods. Many of the Saints espoused a particular form of meditation for praying the Rosary, so there are plenty to choose from.

Ultimately, what really matters is simply to take up the beads and to actually pray the Rosary, engaging your entire person in this prayer which is so incredibly powerful, meditating as fully as you can on it’s Mysteries and the divine treasures contained within them.

Prayer, as they say, brings it’s own rewards – and it is in persevering in the praying of the Rosary that we will, over time, come to know it’s true power and what God achieves through it’s recitation.

Today, then, why not look out that Rosary that may be in a drawer or purse or pocket, and go somewhere quiet and use those beads for the purpose for which they are intended – that is, to become a spiritual ladder that will lift your soul up to the Lord, with His own Mother at your side.

Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, teach us to pray.

A Lenten Rosary

A Lenten Rosary

“There could not possibly be a finer devotion nor one of greater merit than that of the holy Rosary, which is like a second memorial and representation of the Life and Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ”

– Saint Louis Marie de Montfort

The point of Lent is to come to know and serve the Lord better. To do this, we must become ever more forgetful of self, seeking Him rather than ourselves in all things.

The Mother of the Lord is the perfect example of doing this – She is the quiet Woman of the Gospels, who says little, offers everything, and constantly points toward Her Son – ‘Do whatever He tells you’ (Jn.2:5).

She has constantly told us of Her love for the Rosary, asking us over and over to pray this beautiful prayer every day – the Saints of the Church have said the same, and that message has been echoed by all the Popes. Saint John Paul II reminded us very clearly that the Rosary is both profound and yet simple, well within the reach of all – we do not need knowledge, a deep theology, great intelligence, just simple faith, love in our hearts and the will to pray.

Lent is the perfect time to begin praying a daily Rosary, if we do not already do so.

The obvious Mysteries to pray in Lent are the Sorrowful ones, but knowing the Lord means knowing His entire life, and so all four sets of Mysteries are very well-suited to the Lenten season.

Begin the Rosary by asking the Blessed Virgin to help you to come to know Her Son better; ask Her to pray with you and for you, and to obtain for you whatever graces the Lord has prepared for you, and to lead you to Him. Ask Her to help you with a particular need or situation, and be confident that She will both hear and answer your prayer. She will do so, for She is very kind and She desires now what She desired of the servants at Cana all those years ago – that we all respond to Her Son’s commands and submit ourselves to His holy will.

The Blessed Virgin is the spotless mirror reflecting the light and the love of God. She is the channel of every heavenly grace. And She is the most easy and the most sure way of reaching the Lord, Her Son. Through Her, He came to us; and through Her, we come to Him.

 

The Secret Of The Rosary

The Secret Of The Rosary

“Say the Rosary often with faith, humility, confidence and perseverance.”
– St Louis Marie de Montfort

“A prayer so easy and yet so rich..”
– Pope St John Paul II

Although it may be the most popular of all Catholic devotions and even the one most associated with being Catholic, the Rosary causes perplexity for some. It is ‘vain repetition’, say some outwith the Catholic faith; it is ‘old-fashioned and only for old women’, say some within the Catholic faith. I wrote about this last concern previously in a post called Men And The Rosary. And for some, particularly those who wish to persevere, it can be difficult to determine how best to actually pray the Rosary.

And yet, despite these concerns, the Church constantly and unwaveringly recommends that we pray the Rosary, and the greatest Saints and Popes of the Church were all devoted to it’s prayerful recitation. At Lourdes, the Blessed Virgin carried a Rosary and prayed it with St Bernadette; and at Fatima, She did similarly and reminded the three children to “pray the Rosary every day”. After a few decades where the Rosary was being prayed less often, today, there is a resurgence – thank God – in the praying of the Rosary. I wrote about this, too, in a post called The Rosary Revival.

And so that leaves us with a question – if the Church, the Popes, the great Saints and even the Blessed Virgin so often ask us to pray this prayer, how do we pray the Rosary well and with perseverance?

Saint Louis Marie de Montfort wrote what is perhaps the best book on the subject, written some 300 years ago, which he entitled ‘The Secret Of The Rosary’. In it, he gives various different methods for praying the Rosary well. He notes this is well within the grasp of all, even children. At the beginning of his book, St Louis writes –

“I beg of you to beware of thinking of the Rosary as something of little importance.. far from being insignificant, the Rosary is a priceless treasure which is inspired by God.. He has attached to it grace in this life and in the next. The Saints have said it faithfully and the Popes have endorsed it.”

I heartily recommend this wonderful little book for anyone who wishes to take up his or her beads and pray them well, and with perseverance. You can find this book, and all of St Louis’ writings at Montfort Publications, where you can learn much more about this most devoted son of the Blessed Virgin, a great Marian Saint who deeply influenced the spiritual life and subsequent holiness of St John Paul II.

I would also like to offer one or two suggestions of my own, if I may.

First of all, use a single set of beads; choose a set and stick with them. It matters not a bit what they are made of, what they look like or what they are worth. But try to avoid expensive Rosaries – apart from the danger of pride, expensive beads tend not to be used, for fear of losing or breaking them; and the Rosary beads are certainly meant to be used, and to be used constantly. So choose a durable set.

Now that you have a set of beads, have them blessed by a Catholic Priest if this has not been done already – it is the physical beads which carry the Indulgences, and they are a Sacramental of the Church, so it is salutary to have them with us always. Get into the habit of carrying them throughout life, before you tenaciously clasp them in death.

After this comes a very important point. When you pray the Rosary, ask the Holy Spirit to grant you the grace to pray well; and ask His Spouse, the Queen of the Rosary, to assist you and to obtain for you the light and the grace of Her Son to help you to ponder on and understand something of the Mysteries of His life, which She will lay out before you. She will obtain this grace for you, because She wants you to pray Her Rosary with perseverance and to do so well. Be patient and persistent in asking for this grace; She will obtain it for you, but in Her time, not ours. That which we work hardest for, we treasure most.

Next, always offer your Rosary for a particular intention – for someone in need (whether temporal or spiritual), for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, to ask for a particular grace, or to seek help in some matter. Remember, too, to pray for the intentions of the Holy Father and for the Church.

The devout praying of the Rosary obtains both merit and grace; my suggestion is to explicitly give all of this to the Blessed Virgin to use as She pleases. Have confidence in Her; She will put it to the best use. Don’t worry that in doing this, you can no longer pray for your own particular intentions; on the contrary – the more generous you are toward Her, so She will be with you.

“As a Gospel prayer, centered on the mystery of the redemptive Incarnation, the Rosary is therefore a prayer with a clearly Christological orientation. It’s most characteristic element, in fact, the litany-like succession of Hail Mary’s, becomes in itself an unceasing praise of Christ” – Blessed Pope Paul VI, ‘Marialis Cultus’

And do not worry that in praying the Rosary, you are ignoring the Lord; remember, the entire life of the Blessed Virgin on earth, and Her function now in Heaven, is to bring Her Divine Son to us and to lead us ever closer to Him. She keeps nothing back for Herself. As He came to us, so we go to Him – that is, through and with Mary, His Mother. You can read more about this in a post I wrote called Learning Christ From Mary.

When you pray the Rosary to begin with, don’t expect it will be a life-shattering experience for you; it will be life-changing, certainly, but not necessarily life-shattering, unless the Lord deigns to grant you a very special grace – and He may well do so. That said, the Blessed Virgin, in Her fifteen promises regarding the Rosary, does promise a signal grace to those who persevere; my own experience would tend to confirm this is the case and so look out for such a grace and give thanks for it, with humility, if it is granted.

At the start, you may find it difficult to meditate deeply on the Mysteries – don’t concern yourself with that nor with how poorly you imagine you are doing; simply do the very best you can and continue to persevere with confidence. The praying of the Rosary is a journey we make over time and as we do so, it becomes more fruitful at the level of the senses. Then it begins to deepen gradually, touching and transforming the soul at the deepest levels, so that the sensory aspect matters much less to us.

Make a point of trying to concentrate on the subject matter of the Mysteries, and not on the vocal prayers. There are two reasons for this.

Firstly, we know the vocal prayers intimately well and there is a danger that in simply praying the words, our minds will begin to wander and no meditation will take place – we will never get beyond the words, and that is not the point of the Rosary. It is all about the meditation.

Secondly, the Rosary is comprised primarily of the ‘Hail Mary’ and this exquisite prayer is a beautiful love song; it is the love song of the Almighty Father to the most beautiful and most perfect of all His creatures – the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of His Son. Like all songs, there are lyrics set against a beautiful melody. In the Rosary, the ‘lyrics’ are the words of the prayers – the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be and the short Fatima Prayer prayed at the conclusion of each decade. We memorise the lyrics of songs through repetition; but it is the melody that sinks into our souls, remains there, and rises up again into our consciousness from time to time. And so it is with the Rosary – here, the ‘melody’ is the meditation on each of the Mysteries, and it is this which is most fruitful to us at the spiritual level. In the Rosary, to put it simply, the prayers are the body – but the meditation is the soul.

If you find it helpful, use visual images of the Mysteries you are praying, at least to begin with; these give us something to focus on and can act as a very good starting point – having engaged our will in praying in the first place, we now need to engage our imagination. There are also many small Rosary books and booklets available, which provide short meditations for each Mystery, and these can be excellent.

Above all, I would heartily recommend reading – and becoming deeply familiar with – the Gospel passages relevant to each of the Mysteries. The Rosary is a Gospel prayer and so it is important that we become familiar with the source material. Perhaps at the start of each Mystery, read the passage, then let it sink into your soul; this will provide a deep well of meditation, even if you pray the Rosary daily over many years. You will never reach the bottom of this well – there is always something new to be found there. As you move forward, you may prefer to concentrate on a single line or phrase from the Scriptures, rather than the entire passage. Imagine yourself in that scene, carefully looking at each of the primary figures; which virtues or lessons does each Mystery suggest to you? How do you live out those virtues in your daily life? What is this Mystery saying in the depths of your soul? What is the Lord teaching you, or asking of you? How does it pertain to the life you are leading?

Almost all of the Mysteries focus on a particular event in the lives of the Lord and His Mother – the Annunciation, the Crowning with Thorns, the Resurrection, and so forth. An exception to this is the Third Luminous Mystery, ‘the Proclamation of the Kingdom and the Call to Repentance’. This Mystery covers the Lord’s public ministry between the Wedding at Cana and the Agony in the Garden. For this Mystery, then, focus on something specific – perhaps the Lord teaching His followers the ‘Our Father’, or His giving of the Beatitudes. These two events concern themselves with praying well and with living well, and so they are both perfect in these Mysteries where the Lord reveals Himself, and they are easy to meditate upon in prayer.

To do all I have suggested here will require willpower and discipline; many begin well, but end quickly. It will be tempting to miss your Rosary ‘just today’ because you are very busy, or the day is nearing it’s end, or for some other reason. Such a day will soon be followed by another until the beads are put back in the drawer. Because of this temptation, it will be profitable if you can get into The Habit Of Prayer. This will help to sustain you in your prayer life by making it a special and crucial part of every day.

Finally, while you will often pray the Rosary alone, it gains even greater power when prayed as a community; pray it with parishioners before or after Mass, or pray it with your family and friends. And consider joining the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary – this gives great spiritual benefits to you as well as offering similar benefits to the other Confraternity members. Not least among these is the assurance that you will be remembered in Masses and Rosaries long after you are dead.

I hope some of this may be of benefit to you; but if you do nothing else, take up your beads and pray the Rosary, preferably every day.

May She who is the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, abundantly bless all those who take up their beads and pray to the Lord with Her.

 


 

 

FIFTEEN PROMISES OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
TO CHRISTIANS WHO FAITHFULLY PRAY THE ROSARY

 

  1. To all those who shall pray My Rosary devoutly, I promise My special protection and great graces.
  2. Those who shall persevere in the recitation of My Rosary will receive some special grace.
  3. The Rosary will be a very powerful armor against hell; it will destroy vice, deliver from sin and dispel heresy.
  4. The Rosary will make virtue and good works flourish, and will obtain for souls the most abundant divine mercies. It will draw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire of eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means!
  5. Those who entrust themselves to Me through the Rosary will not perish.
  6. Whoever recites My Rosary devoutly reflecting on the Mysteries, shall never be overwhelmed by misfortune. He will not experience the anger of God nor will he perish by an unprovided death. The sinner will be converted; the just will persevere in grace and merit eternal life.
  7. Those truly devoted to My Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church.
  8. Those who are faithful to reciting My Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces and will share in the merits of the blessed.
  9. I will deliver promptly from Purgatory souls devoted to My Rosary.
  10. True children of My Rosary will enjoy great glory in Heaven.
  11. What you shall ask through My Rosary you shall obtain.
  12. To those who propagate My Rosary I promise aid in all their necessities.
  13. I have obtained from My Son that all the members of the Rosary Confraternity shall have as their intercessors, in life and in death, the entire celestial court.
  14. Those who recite My Rosary faithfully are My beloved children, the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ.
  15. Devotion to My Rosary is a special sign of predestination.

 


Men And The Rosary

Men And The Rosary

“Get a Rosary, have it blessed by a Catholic Priest, carry it with you always and – above all – pray the Rosary, every single day.”

In January of this year, I wrote about The Rosary Revival and in that post, I said this –

“In ‘Marialis Cultus’, Pope Paul gives a hint as to the reasons why the praying of the Rosary was falling to the side –

‘In our time, the changes that have occurred in social behaviour, people’s sensibilities, manners of expression in art and letters and in the forms of social communication have also influenced the manifestations of religious sentiment. Certain practices of piety that not long ago seemed suitable for expressing the religious sentiment of individuals and of Christian communities seem today inadequate or unsuitable because they are linked with social and cultural patterns of the past.’

Put another way, the Rosary was seen as in some way being old fashioned.”

For a variety of different reasons, over the last few decades the Rosary had fallen out of use with many; even ten years ago, it was possible that the only people you would be likely to see praying the Rosary in Church would be elderly ladies.

And then, the pendulum began to swing in the opposite direction.

That original post was making the point that there is something of a resurgence happening in the praying of the Rosary, but I was making that point at a general level. Now, in this post, I am taking that original point and going one step further.

I am seeing something else beginning to take shape – a resurgence of the Rosary amongst men.

My most recent experience of this – but certainly not the only one – was at Mass yesterday morning in a neighbouring parish, St Columbkille’s in Rutherglen. It is a beautiful and prayerful Church, which maintains a strong sense of reverence for the One who resides there awaiting us. Long before the Mass began, there were several other men praying in the Church and I noticed a curious fact; every single one of them was praying the Rosary. This was such a beautiful sight to see.

Another example was the at the time of the death of my aunt, some months ago. At the Rosary in the house each evening, we stood around the coffin, men and women together. On this particular occasion, all the men present pulled Rosaries from their respective pockets. While this might not sound unusual, it represented a real change and I was quite aware of it, and thankful for it. You see, on similar occasions in the past, the women would generally have a Rosary in their bag, while the men would not be carrying one. Although they took part in the prayers, they were without the beads. This was a pity for two reasons – firstly, because the actual Rosary itself is a Sacramental of the Church and to carry one means always to have something blessed with us; the second reason is that without visible reminders to pray, we are more likely to forget to do so and we are, therefore, more likely to get out of the habit of praying.

I have also noticed that there are at least two online groups which are specifically dedicated to encouraging men to take up their beads once more and to pray the Rosary; one of these groups has even published a book on the subject of men and the Rosary. I have also seen a few interviews featuring men speaking about their experience of the Rosary and – in particular – the ways in which they came back to this form of prayer.

So here are my suggestions for any man reading this post.

If you do not already have one, get yourself a Rosary. It makes no difference at all what it is made of or what it looks like, so long as it is usable for prayer.

Now, get it blessed by a Catholic Priest. If you have forgotten how to pray the Rosary, ask that same Catholic Priest to help you, or there are plenty of sites online giving the information you need.

Once you have done that, carry it with you always and never leave home without it – make putting it in your pocket as much of a habit as checking you have your house keys.

Finally, and most importantly of all – go somewhere quiet (any Catholic Church is the perfect place, but prayer is good regardless of the location) and actually PRAY THE ROSARY.

But be warned – it is at this point that the evil one will start his campaign to persuade you to put the beads down and stop; he knows perfectly well just how powerful the Rosary is. Persevere; do not give in or give up. Get into the habit of praying the Rosary regularly – preferably, every single day.

And if you do all this, you will be a happy man, and you will be following in the footsteps of the greatest Saints in the history of the Church. Who knows, one day you may even become one of them.

 

 

“The Rosary is the weapon!”

– St Pio of Pietrelcina