Every year during October, the Catholic Church asks the faithful to spend some time thinking about the Blessed Virgin Mary and praying a prayer closely associated with her: the rosary.
For many, many centuries, the Church has taught that the rosary is one of the greatest ways to pray.
While that is most definitely true, this year – wracked by pandemic and the accompanying isolation and worry of many – finding comfort and solace in the prayers of the rosary is more important than ever.
The rosary – more specifically, the recitation of the prayers of the rosary – has been hailed as a “compendium of the entire Gospel” and a powerful means of praying to God. For nearly eight centuries, popes, preachers, saints and even Mary herself have urged the faithful to pray the rosary.
At Fatima, Our Lady urged the three shepherd children to pray the rosary every day. She called herself the Lady of the Rosary and urged the children to “continue to say the five decades of the rosary every day... to obtain peace in the world.”
As a matter of fact, in less than one week, on Oct. 7, we will be celebrating the Feast Day of Our Lady of the Rosary.
While it may be easy to excuse ourselves for not praying the rosary because it is too time consuming or we are too easily distracted by the stresses of living with COVID-19, the graces one receives from reciting the rosary are too numerous not to set aside 15 minutes each day to recite those prayers.
For more than 800 years, the faithful have recited the rosary while contemplating on the joyful, sorrowful, glorious (and most recently luminous) events in the life of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus.
For those same eight centuries, the Order of Preachers (Dominicans) have been proponents of the rosary. Hugo de Santa Clara, a 13th century Dominican priest, exhorted the faithful to pray the rosary. He once said, “If we salute her (Mary), she is not so ill-bred as to dismiss us without saluting us back... Mary is often to be saluted, that by her salute we may be filled with grace.”
Only good can come from praying the rosary. Another 13th century Dominican said that “we should indeed then salute Mary gladly for what we shall gain when she salutes us back.”
Devotion to Our Lady and her rosary can lead to our own holiness. In all of her apparitions, Mary has encouraged the faithful to do what God tells us to do. Indeed, her last reported words in the Gospel were at the wedding feast at Cana when she said, “Do whatever He (Jesus) tells you to do.” (John 2:5) With Mary as role model, the faithful are drawn closer to Christ because, as she said, “my soul magnifies the Lord.” (Luke 1:46)
As we begin this month of October – the month of the rosary – we can renew our regular praying of the rosary and our devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, or we can become acquainted for the first time with the graces and blessings that come from praying the rosary.
Recitation of the rosary, religious articles in our home, prayers to Our Lady and other practices particular to the Catholic Church are “a means of permeating everyday life with prayer to God,” according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in their document, Popular Devotional Practices: Basic Questions and Answers.
“Properly used, popular devotional practices (such as praying the rosary) do not replace the liturgical life of the Church; rather, they extend it into daily life,” the bishops said in their document. That is particularly relevant now when our ability to attend Mass is compromised due to social distancing and preventative measures to halt the spread of COVID-19.