Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary
Thomas A. Droleskey
October is the month of Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary. Indeed, today, October 7, is the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, Our Lady of Victory. Pope Saint Pius V called upon Catholics worldwide to pray the Rosary for the success of the combined Christian forces against the infidel Turks in the Battle of Lepanto. As important as the Battle of Lepanto was, however, there is a far more important battle which each one of us fights every day: the battle against the forces of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Our Lady is as indispensable in our battle against those forces as she was in helping the combined Christian forces defeat the Mohammedans 434 years ago. We need Our Lady's constant intercession to help us avoid sin and to scale the heights of sanctity, especially in these times of apostasy and betrayal.
Each Hail Mary we pray ends with a plea to Our Lady to "pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death."
Yes, each of us is a sinner. As Saint John the Evangelist noted, "If any of us say we are without sin we are deceivers." While human nature has not been totally corrupted by Original Sin, as Martin Luther and John Calvin contended erroneously, it has been weakened by the vestigial after-effects of Original Sin, as well as our own actual sins committed after Baptism. Each one of our sins darkens our intellects and weakens our wills. Each one of our sins inclines us to sin all the more. An ancient prayer of the Church, which is included in the Miraculous Medal novena, tells us that we "must recover by penance what we have lost by sin." Our humble recognition of our fallen nature will lead us to recognize how dependent we must be upon our loving Blessed Mother to help us in our struggle against sin, as well as to recognize that we, who are the unmerited beneficiaries of Divine Mercy in the Sacrament of Penance, must freely bestow that mercy upon our fellow sinners when they disappoint or sin against us. The late Father John A. Hardon, S.J., put it well nine years ago when he said, "God permits us to sin so that we can show mercy to each other. Let me repeat myself: God permits us to sin so that we can show mercy to each other."
Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary contains a summary of the history of salvation from the moment of the Incarnation to that of her Coronation as Queen of Heaven and of earth. Each mystery, however, is intimately connected with the fact of our sinfulness, and that we need Our Lady's help to cooperate with the graces won for us by the shedding of her Divine Son's Most Precious Blood on the wood of the Holy Cross on Good Friday.
Pope Leo XIII wrote several penetrating and moving encyclical letters on Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary. Writing at a time with outrages being committed against the Holy Faith that were, sadly, prophetic of those to be committed in our own day, Pope Leo XIII noted the following in his 1892 Encyclical Letter, Magnae Dei Matris:
It is only too plain how many and of what nature are the corrupting agencies by which the wickedness of the world deceitfully strives to weaken and completely uproot from souls their Christian faith and the respect for God's law on which faith is fed and depends for its effectiveness. Already the fields cultivated by our Lord are everywhere turning into a wilderness abounding in ignorance of the Faith, in error and vice, as though blown upon by some hideous pest. And to add to the anguish of this thought, so far from putting a check on such insolent and destructive depravity, or imposing the punishment deserved, they who can and should correct matters seem in many cases, by their indifference or open connivance, to increase the spirit of evil.
We have good reason to deplore the public institutions in which the teaching of the sciences and arts is purposely so organized that the name of God is passed over in silence or visited with vituperation; to deplore the license -- growing more shameless by the day -- of the press in publishing whatever it pleases, and the license of speech in addressing any kind of insult to Christ our God and His Church. And We deplore no less the consequent laxity and apathy in the practice of the Catholic religion which if not quite open apostasy from the Faith, is certainly going to prove an easy road to it, since it is a manner of life having nothing in common with faith. Nobody who ponders this disorder and the surrender of the most fundamental principles will be astonished if afflicted nations everywhere are groaning under the heavy hand of God's vengeance and stand anxious and trembling in fear of worse calamities.
Now, to appease the might of an outraged God and to bring that health of soul so needed by those who are sorely afflicted, there is nothing better than devout and persevering prayer, provided it be joined with a love for and practice of Christian life. And both of these, the spirit of prayer and the practice of Christian life, are best attained through the devotion of the Rosary of Mary.
The well-known origin of the Rosary, illustrated in celebrated monuments of which we have made frequent mention, bears witness to its remarkable efficacy. For, in the days when the Albigensian sect, posing as the champion of pure faith and morals, but in reality introducing the worst kind of anarchy and corruption, brought many a nation to its utter ruin, the Church fought against it and the other infamous factions associated with it, not with troops and arms, but chiefly with the power of the most holy Rosary, the devotion which the Mother of God taught to our Father Dominic in order that he might propagate it. By this means the Church triumphed magnificently over every obstacle and provided for the salvation of her children not only in that trial but in others like it afterward, always with the same glorious success. For this reason, now, when human affairs have taken the course which We deplore, bringing affection to the Church and ruin to the State, all of us have the duty to unite our voice in prayer, with like devotion, to the holy Mother of God, beseeching her that we too may rejoice, as we ardently desire, in experiencing the same power of her Rosary.
When we have recourse to Mary in prayer, we are having recourse to the Mother of mercy, who is so well disposed toward us that, whatever the necessity that presses upon us especially in attaining eternal life, she is instantly at our side of her own accord, even though she has not been invoked. She dispenses grace with a generous hand from that treasure with which from the beginning she was divinely endowed in fullest abundance that she might be worthy to be the Mother of God. By the fullness of grace which confers on her the most illustrious of her many titles, the Blessed Virgin is infinitely superior to all the hierarchies of men and angels, the one creature who is closest of all to Christ. "It is a great thing in any saint to have grace sufficient for the salvation of many souls; but to have enough to suffice for the salvation of everybody in the world. is the greatest of all; and this is found in Christ and in the Blessed Virgin."
It is impossible to say how pleasing and gratifying to her it is when we greet her with the Angelic Salutation, "full of grace"; and in repeating it, fashion these words of praise into ritual crowns for her. For every time we say them, we recall the memory of her exalted dignity and of the Redemption of the human race which God began through her. We likewise bring to mind the divine and everlasting bond which links her with the joys and sorrows, the humiliations and triumphs of Christ in directing and helping mankind to eternal life.
It pleased Christ to take upon Himself the Son of Man, and to become thereby our Brother, in order that His mercy to us might be shown most openly; for "it behooved him in all things to be made like unto his brethren that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest before God." Likewise because Mary was chosen to be the Mother of Christ, our Lord and our Brother, the unique prerogative was given her above all other mothers to show her mercy to us and to pour it out upon us. Besides, as we are indebted to Christ for sharing in some way with us the right, which is peculiarly His own, of calling God our Father and possessing Him as such, we are in like manner indebted to Him for His loving generosity in sharing with us the right to call Mary our Mother and to cherish her as such.
While nature itself made the name of mother the sweetest of all names and has made motherhood the very model of tender and solicitous love, no tongue is eloquent enough to put in words what every devout soul feels, namely how intense is the flame of affectionate and active charity which glows in Mary, in her who is truly our mother not in a human way but through Christ. Nobody knows and comprehends so well as she everything that concerns us: what helps we need in life; what dangers, public or private, threaten our welfare; what difficulties and evils surround us; above all, how fierce is the fight we wage with ruthless enemies of our salvation. In these and in all other troubles of life her power is most far-reaching. Her desire to use it is most ardent to bring consolation, strength, and help of every kind to children who are dear to her.
Accordingly, let us approach Mary confidently, wholeheartedly beseeching her by the bonds of her motherhood which unite her so closely to Jesus and at the same time to us. Let us with deepest devotion invoke her constant aid in the prayer which she herself has indicated and which is most acceptable to her. Then with good reason shall we rest with an easy and joyous mind under the protection of the best of mothers.
To this commendation of the Rosary which follows from the very nature of the prayer, We may add that the Rosary offers an easy way to present the chief mysteries of the Christian religion and to impress them upon the mind; and this commendation is one of the most beautiful of all. For it is mainly by faith that a man sets out on the straight and sure path to God and learns to revere in mind and heart His supreme majesty, His sovereignty over the whole of creation, His unsounded power, wisdom, and providence. For he who comes to God must believe that God exists and is a rewarder to those who seek Him. Moreover, because God's eternal Son assumed our humanity and shone before us as the Way, the Truth, and the Life, our faith must include the lofty mysteries of the august Trinity of divine Persons and of the Father's only-begotten Son made Man: "This is eternal life: that they may know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."
God gave us a most precious blessing when He gave us faith. By this gift we are not only raised above the level of human things, to contemplate and share in the divine nature, but are also furnished with the means of meriting the rewards of heaven; and therefore the hope is encouraged and strengthened that we shall one day look upon God, not in the shadowy images of His creatures, but in the fullest light, and shall enjoy Him forever as the Supreme Goodness. But the Christian is kept so busy by the various affairs of life and wanders so easily into matters of little importance, that unless he be helped with frequent reminders, the truths which are of first importance and necessity are little by little forgotten; and then faith begins to grow weak and may even perish.
To ward off these exceedingly great dangers of ignorance from her children, the Church, which never relaxes her vigilant and diligent care, has been in the habit of looking for the staunchest support of faith in the Rosary of Mary. And indeed in the Rosary, along with the most beautiful and efficacious prayer arranged in an orderly pattern, the chief mysteries of our religion follow one another, as they are brought before our mind for contemplation: first of all the mysteries in which the Word was made flesh and Mary, the inviolate Virgin and Mother, performed her maternal duties for Him with a holy joy; there come then the sorrows, the agony and death of the suffering Christ, the price at which the salvation of our race was accomplished; then follow the mysteries full of His glory; His triumph over death, the Ascension into heaven, the sending of the Holy Spirit, the resplendent brightness of Mary received among the stars, and finally the everlasting glory of all the saints in heaven united with the glory of the Mother and her Son.
This uninterrupted sequence of wonderful events the Rosary frequently and perseveringly recalls to the minds of the faithful and presents almost as though they were unfolding before our eyes: and this, flooding the souls of those who devoutly recite it with a sweetness of piety that never grows weary, impresses and stirs them as though they were listening to the very voice of the Blessed Mother explaining the mysteries and conversing with them at length about their salvation
Pope Leo elaborated on this themes in his 1894 Encyclical Letter on Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary, Iucunda Semper Expectatione:
Thus the excellence of the Rosary; considered under the double aspect We have here set forth, will convince you, Venerable Brethren, of the reasons We have for an incessant eagerness to commend and to promote it. At the present day -- and on this We have already touched -- there is a signal necessity of special help from Heaven, particularly manifest in the many tribulations suffered by the Church as to her liberties and her rights, as also in the perils whereby the prosperity and peace of Christian society are fundamentally threatened. So it is that it belongs to Our office to assert once again that We place the best of Our hopes in the holy Rosary, inasmuch as more than any other means it can impetrate from God the succor which We need. It is Our ardent wish that this devotion shall be restored to the place of honor; in the city and in the village, in the family and in the workshop, in the noble's house and in the peasant's; that it should be to all a dear devotion and a noble sign of their faith; that it may be a sure way to the gaining of the favor of pardon. To this end it is indispensable that zeal should be redoubled, while impiety daily redoubles its efforts and labors to move the justice of God and to provoke, for the general ruin, His terrible vengeance. Amongst so many causes of grief to all good men, and to Ourself, not the least is this, that in the very midst of Catholic nations there exist persons who are ever ready to rejoice in that which insults and outrages our august religion; and that they themselves, with incredible effrontery and with all publicity, seize every opportunity of teaching the multitude to hold reverend things in contempt and of persuading them from their old confidence in the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. During the last months the very person of Our Divine Redeemer has not been spared. Such a depth of shameless indignity has been reached that Jesus Christ Himself has been dragged upon the stage of a theater often contaminated with corruptions, and has been represented there discrowned of that Divinity upon which rests the whole work of human salvation. And the last touch of shame was added in an attempt to rescue from the execration of ages the guilty name of him who was the very sign of perfidy, the betrayer of Christ. At the consummation of such excesses in the cities of Italy there arose a general cry of indignation, and energetic protest against the violation and trampling under foot of the inviolable rights of religion, and this in a nation that has for its greatest and most righteous boast that it is Catholic. The Bishops rose at once, on fire with holy zeal. And first they made their vigorous appeal to those whose sacred duty it is to safeguard the decorum of the religion of the country. Next, they informed their people of the gravity of the scandal, and exhorted them to special acts of reparation towards our most loving Savior exposed to such slanders.
We have pleasure, however, in rendering praise to the free and fruitful faith manifested by men of good will; and this has brought Us comfort in the bitterness inflicted upon the very quick of Our heart. And having regard to the duties of Our supreme ministry, We take this occasion to lift up Our voice and to unite Our complaints and protests to those of the Bishops and of their people, authenticated by Our Apostolic authority. And with a like ardor to that wherewith we condemned this sacrilegious offense, do We preach faith to all Catholics, and particularly to the Italians. Let them with jealous care guard this inestimable inheritance received from their fathers, let them defend it with courage, let them not cease from magnifying it with good actions of which their faith is the inspiring motive. This is a motive the more for the enkindling, in private and in common prayer, throughout the coming month of October, of a holy emulation in celebrating and honoring the Mother of God, the mighty succorer of the Christian people, the most glorious Queen of Heaven. For Our own part, We confirm with all Our heart the favors and indulgences We have already awarded upon this point.
Even though almost all of you are familiar with the points which will be made below, this reflection of how the Rosary is connected with our sinfulness might help our relatives and friends to become more devoted to the prayer which is, after the Mass itself, the most powerful means to assist us in our struggle against the evil spirits who roam about the world seeking the ruin of souls, including ours.
The Annunciation. Our Lady had been preserved from all stain of Original Sin and actual sin so that she could provide her Divine Son with a perfect human nature at the moment of the Annunciation. As she was filled with grace from the first moment of her conception in her mother's womb, Our Lady was prepared to offer her fiat to the will of the Father. We, who suffer from the ravages of Original Sin and actual sins, are very willful, intent on doing our own will, even when doing so expels the life of sanctifying grace from our souls. Our Lady teaches us to be purified of our willfulness. She wants us to appreciate the fact that her Divine Son, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, deigned to become man in her virginal and immaculate womb precisely to make it possible for us to show forth our love for the Blessed Trinity by renouncing sin and embracing all that redounds to the salvation of our souls.
The Visitation. Our Lady's visit to her cousin, Saint Elizabeth, prompted her Divine Son's precursor, Saint John the Baptist, to leap for joy in his mother's womb. The Church teaches us that Saint John was freed from Original Sin at that moment of Our Lady's visitation. Each of us is freed from Original Sin in the baptismal font, although we are left with a darkened intellect and weakened will, which should teach us to be reliant upon the one who proclaimed in the Magnificat that "all generations will call me blessed."
The Nativity. Having been preserved from all stain of sin, Our Lady gave birth to Our Lord painlessly in the cradle in the stable in the cave in Bethlehem. She would give birth to us spiritually as the adopted sons and daughters of the Blessed Trinity at the foot of the Holy Cross. Indeed, her Divine Son permitted Himself to be placed upon his birth in a feeding trough for animals, reminding us that the Cross has become for us the trough from which we are fed His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in Holy Communion, the principal means by which we fortify our interior lives and grow in greater fervor for love of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
The Presentation. Simeon prophesied that a "sword of sorrow" would pierce Our Lady's Immaculate Heart. Our sins thrust that sword of sorrow through her Immaculate Heart as she stood so valiantly as the foot of the Holy Cross, being splattered by the Most Precious Blood of her Divine Son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Although Our Lord could have redeemed us by the shedding of His Most Precious Blood which took place in the Temple at the Presentation, it was His Father's will that He pay back the blood-debt of our sins by being lifted high on the wood of the Cross so as to become the "sign of contradiction" prophesied by Simeon. The Cross was the symbol of Roman oppression. It has become for us sinners the means of our liberation from the power of sin and eternal death in this life and our passageway to an unending Easter Sunday of glory in Paradise.
The Losing and Finding of Jesus in the Temple. As Father Kenneth Baker, S.J., has pointed out, Our Lord was not "teaching" in the Temple at the age of twelve when His foster-father and Blessed Mother discovered He was missing. Our Lord never did anything that was inappropriate for His age. He was answering questions posed to Him by the rabbis and the scribes in the Temple, not presuming to teach on His own authority at that point in His life. Our Lady and Saint Joseph were grieved when they discovered that their Son was missing, as we should grieve when, God forbid, we lose Our Lord by sinning mortally, or when our accumulated venial sins so blind us to First and Last Things that we begin to live only for the things of this passing world. We can lose Our Lord so easily. However, He beckons us in the Sacrament of Penance.
The Agony in the Garden. As I have noted in each of my Holy Week reflections for the past decade, Our Lord agonized in the Garden of Gethsemane precisely because He knew that He, the God-Man, was going to come into contact in His Sacred Humanity with the very antithesis of His Sacred Divinity: sin. The thought of even coming into contact with sin was so repulsive to Our Lord that He sweated droplets of His Most Precious Blood. Spiritual writers have contended that Our Lord saw all of the sins of all human beings from the beginning to the end of time. If we really loved Our Lord, we would keep His Agony in the Garden uppermost in our minds when we are tempted to sin, understanding that Our Lady, though not in the Garden with Him during his agony, was not far from Him in her prayers. She is not far from us in our agonies.
The Scourging at the Pillar. The Church teaches us that the scourging of Our Lord at the pillar was caused by all of the sins of the flesh. Our Lady told the seers in Fatima that more souls are going to Hell because of the sins of the flesh than for any other reason (which is a pretty good indication, obviously, that there are souls in Hell, although we cannot say which souls are there). True, Our Lord has given us the remedy for human weakness by virtue of His redemptive act on the wood of the Holy Cross. Nevertheless, thoughts, words, and deeds contrary to the Sixth and Ninth Commandments caused Our Lord's flesh to be torn asunder as He was scourged. The baubles of pleasure which sinful men seek with such relish caused inexpressible suffering upon the Divine Redeemer, giving us all the more reason to engage in acts of penance and mortification as befits redeemed creatures.
The Carrying of the Cross. Our Lord carried His Cross along the Via Dolorosa to reconcile sinful men to His Father in Heaven, to pay back in His own Sacred Humanity the blood-debt of Adam's sin. It is by the carrying of our own crosses on a daily basis that we help to undo the damage done to our souls by our own sins, as well as to give greater honor and glory to the Blessed Trinity, provide relief to the Poor Souls in Purgatory, and give efficacious example to others that there is no other path to Paradise than by our patient and loving embrace of our daily crosses. Most of us will not be asked to do extraordinary things in the life of the Church. However, we are called to do ordinary things extraordinarily well for love of the Blessed Trinity. We are called to do our daily penances without complaint, offering them all up to Our Lady to use as she sees fit for the greater honor and glory of God and for the salvation of souls (which is one of the fruits of total consecration to her).
The Crucifixion of Our Lord. The image of Our Lord crucified should be emblazoned in our hearts and in our souls. We must live in the shadow of the Cross at all times. For it was upon the wood of the Holy Cross that Our Lord made it possible for us sinful men to overcome the effects of sin in our lives by cooperating with the graces He won for us by the shedding of His Most Precious Blood, and which are extended to us in time by the working of the Holy Ghost in the sacraments administered to us by Holy Mother Church. Our sins caused Our Lord unspeakable horror and suffering as He spent those three hours atop the heights of Golgotha. In His ineffable mercy, however, that which was a sign of contradiction for the Jews and a stumbling block for the Gentiles has become the very image of Our Lord's Easter victory over the power of sin and eternal death. Our Blessed Mother suffered in total compassion with her Divine Son. She is the mediatrix of all graces, the Co-Redemptrix, and our Advocate. No mother ever suffered as Our Lady suffered. As she was free from all stain of Original Sin and actual sin, Our Lady had not one ounce of disordered self-love. She suffered, therefore, with great and perfect intensity as a result of our sins. Given to us to be our Mother, however, she pleads for us "now and at the hour of our deaths" regardless of the fact that it was our sins which imposed such suffering upon her own Immaculate Heart and the Sacred Heart of her Divine Son. And just as Our Lady was present at the foot of the Cross, so is she present during each unbloody re-presentation of Calvary which is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. She wants us to be present at the Mass every day of our lives. She wants us to realize that we, whose sins placed us on the wrong side of the Cross on Good Friday, have an opportunity to be on the right side of the Cross every single day of our lives.
The Resurrection. Our Lord rose bodily from the dead on Easter Sunday. We know that all of the bodies of the dead will be raised up on the Last Day. The bodies and souls of the just will be reunited and enjoy the glory of the Beatific Vision of the Blessed Trinity. Those of the unjust will be damned for all eternity in Hell, where they will suffer from hellfire and the knowledge that they will be separated for all eternity from the very end of their existence: the possession of the vision of the Blessed Trinity. However, there is another sense in which we are to understand this first mystery of the Glorious Mysteries of Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary. As sinners, we are called to rise from the tombs of our sins, to get ourselves straight with God in the Sacrament of Penance, to rise once more to a state of sanctifying grace. We are called never to give in to discouragement, never to dwell upon those sins forgiven in the past (although mindful of our need to do penance for all of our sins, as well as those of the whole world), but to rise up as new creatures after a good confession, resolved firmly to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. We are called to recognize that it is our belief in Our Lord's bodily Resurrection from the dead which gives us the hope of rising from our sins and our selfishness so as to die in a state of grace and live for all eternity in the joy of Heaven.
The Ascension. Our Lord ascended to the Father's right hand in glory on Ascension Thursday. Thus, we, who are meant to strive for the possession of the Beatific Vision in Heaven, are to keep our minds on Heavenly things, on First and Last Things. We are called to ascend from the muck and mire of this world. We are called to be people of profound Eucharistic piety, total consecration to the Mother of God, steeped in a love of the treasury of Catholic witness given us by the saints over the centuries, devoted to the Deposit of Faith entrusted by Our Lord to Holy Mother Church, and desirous of bringing as many souls as possible into the true Church by our prayers, our words, and our deeds. Yes, though we are sinners, we are called to ascend to the heights of sanctity with all our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls.
The Descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles and Our Lady. Our Advocate, the Holy Ghost, came down upon the Apostles and Our Lady in tongues of flame on Pentecost Sunday in the same upper room in Jerusalem where Our Lord had instituted the priesthood and the Eucharist at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday. The Church was born at this moment. The same Holy Ghost Who enfleshed the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity in Our Lady's virginal and immaculate womb enfleshes Our Lord anew in the Sacrifice of the Mass, makes it possible for the merits won by Our Lord to be administered to erring sinners in the Sacrament of Penance, gives birth to souls in the baptismal font, pours forth His gifts and fruits in the Sacrament of Confirmation, provides strengthening to souls in danger of death, assists couples who administer the Sacrament of Matrimony to each other, and brings forth "other Christs" to serve in the priesthood in the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The Holy Ghost abides in Holy Mother Church, endowing her with the charism of infallibility on matters of faith and morals. Thus, erring sinners have a home on earth, the Church, to guide them through the various pitfalls of life as they attempt to walk the rocky road that leads to the narrow gate of Life Himself. Our Lady, the Spouse of the Holy Ghost, prays for us sinners "now and at the hour of our deaths" so that we will be faithful sons and daughters of the Church Militant on earth as a preparation for membership in the Church Triumphant in Heaven
The Assumption of Our Lady. Our Lady's Assumption body and soul into Heaven was, as Pope Pius XII noted in 1950, her due as a result of her sinlessness. And while Our Lady is in Heaven with both her body and her soul, she is nevertheless concerned for us, constantly interceding for us to cooperate with the graces won for us by her Divine Son. Our Blessed Mother wants us to be with her with our own bodies and souls on the Last Day. She wants us to enjoy the fruits of Heaven she is enjoying, and to do so to the utmost extent. Alas, we can only enjoy the glories of Heaven completely the more we attempt to root out sin from our lives, the more we attempt to do penance for our sins and to embrace whatever sufferings we are asked to bear for the sake of the salvation of souls, including our own. Great joys await us. A great Mother awaits us. We need to invoke her assistance, though, to persevere to the point of our dying breaths.
The Coronation of Our Lady. Our Lady was crowned as Queen of Heaven and of Earth. She is our Queen. She is meant to reign as Queen of our own individual hearts. She is meant to reign as Queen of this world, and to be honored as such by men in their own individual lives and in the larger lives of nations. She has appeared to us on a number of occasions in the past five hundred years to remind us of her Queenship, of the fact that her Divine Son would not have been able to redeem us if she had not given her fiat to the Father's will at the Annunciation. As sinful children, we must prostrate ourselves at her feet, giving her all of the honor and love that is her due, seeking to be consecrated to her totally, according to the formula of either Saint Louis de Montfort or that of Saint Maximilian Kolbe. She wants us have a crown of eternal glory in Heaven. But that crown will only be given to those who love God, not to the lukewarm, to the faint of heart. Praying the Rosary should be as much a part of our lives as daily Mass of all ages. The more we come to understand the fact that we need Our Lady to pray for "us sinners now and at the hour of deaths," the more merciful and compassionate we will become in our own lives. While it is one thing to sin and to be sorry, it is quite another to persist in sin unrepentantly to the point of our dying breaths. Praying the Rosary daily will help us meditate upon our sinful nature, but it will also help us to understand that we are the unmerited beneficiaries of Divine Mercy. And we have a Mother, the Queen of Mercy, who wants us to extend her the honor that is her due as an integral part of our interior lives, so that, please God and by His grace, Our Lady will indeed be praying for us sinners now and at the hour of our deaths.
In quite a contrast to the erroneous novelty of ecumenism unleashed by the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath (it is really much more than a "silent" apostasy; it is quite loud and boisterous), Pope Leo XIII noted in his 1895 Encyclical Letter, Adiutricem, that Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary was the path to bring Protestants and the Orthodox back into the one Sheepfold of Christ, the Catholic Church:
And so, in Mary, God has given us the most zealous guardian of Christian unity. There are, of course, more ways than one to win her protection by prayer, but as for Us, We think that the best and most effective way to her favor lies in the Rosary. We have elsewhere brought it to the attention of the devout Christian and not least among the advantages of the Rosary is the ready and easy means it puts in his hands to nurture his faith, and to keep him from ignorance of his religion and the danger of error.
The very origin of the Rosary makes that plain. When such faith is exercised by vocally repeating the Our Father and Hail Mary of the Rosary prayers, or better still in the contemplation of the mysteries, it is evident how close we are brought to Mary. For every time we devoutly say the Rosary in supplication before her, we are once more brought face to face with the marvel of our salvation; we watch the mysteries of our Redemption as though they were unfolding before our eyes; and as one follows another, Mary stands revealed at once as God's Mother and our Mother.
The sublimity of that double dignity, the fruits of her twofold ministry, appear in vivid light when in devout meditation we think of Mary's share in the joyful, the sorrowful, the glorious mysteries of her Son. The heart is inflamed by these reflections with a feeling of grateful love toward her and, esteeming everything beneath her as so much worthless chaff, strives with manful purpose to prove worthy of such a Mother and the gifts she bestows. Meditation on the mysteries of the Rosary, often repeated in the spirit of faith, cannot help but please her and move her, the fondest of mothers, to show mercy to her children.
For that reason We say that the Rosary is by far the best prayer by which to plead before her the cause of our separated brethren. To grant a favorable hearing belongs properly to her office of spiritual Mother. For Mary has not brought forth-nor could she-those who are of Christ except in the one same Faith and in the one same love; for "Can Christ be divided? All must live the life of Christ in an organic unity in order to "bring forth fruit to God" in the one same body. Every one of the multitudes, therefore, whom the mischief of calamitous events has stolen away from that unity, must be born again to Christ of that same Mother whom God has endowed with a never failing fertility to bring forth a holy people. And this Mary, for her part, longs to do. Adorned by us with garlands of her favorite prayer, she will obtain by her entreaties help in abundance from the Spirit that quickeneth. God grant that they refuse not to comply with the burning desire of their merciful Mother but, on the contrary, give ear, like men of good will, with a proper regard for their eternal salvation, to the voice, gently persuasive, which calls to them: "My little children, of whom I am in labor again, until Christ be formed in you."
Finally, Pope Leo XIII noted in his Laetitiae Sanctae reflection on the Rosary, 1893, that the whole of social order itself depends upon man's devotion to Our Lady in her Most Holy Rosary. There is no salvation in "conservatism" or any other secular philosophy or ideology. The hope of mankind is Our Lady, who made possible our salvation by her perfect fiat to the Father's Holy Will at the Annunciation. She must be recognized as the Queen of all nations. Anyone who thinks otherwise is simply deceiving himself. Consider the words of Pope Leo XIII, found in Laetitiae Sanctae:
The third evil for which a remedy is needed is one which is chiefly characteristic of the times in which we live. Men in former ages, although they loved the world, and loved it far too well, did not usually aggravate their sinful attachment to the things of earth by a contempt of the things of heaven. Even the right-thinking portion of the pagan world recognized that this life was not a home but a dwelling-place, not our destination, but a stage in the journey. But men of our day, albeit they have had the advantages of Christian instruction, pursue the false goods of this world in such wise that the thought of their true Fatherland of enduring happiness is not only set aside, but, to their shame be it said, banished and entirely erased from their memory, notwithstanding the warning of St. Paul, "We have not here a lasting city, but we seek one which is to come" (Heb. xiii., 4).
When We seek out the causes of this forgetfulness, We are met in the first place by the fact that many allow themselves to believe that the thought of a future life goes in some way to sap the love of our country, and thus militates against the prosperity of the commonwealth. No illusion could be more foolish or hateful. Our future hope is not of a kind which so monopolizes the minds of men as to withdraw their attention from the interests of this life. Christ commands us, it is true, to seek the Kingdom of God, and in the first place, but not in such a manner as to neglect all things else. For, the use of the goods of the present life, and the righteous enjoyment which they furnish, may serve both to strengthen virtue and to reward it. The splendor and beauty of our earthly habitation, by which human society is ennobled, may mirror the splendor and beauty of our dwelling which is above. Therein we see nothing that is not worthy of the reason of man and of the wisdom of God. For the same God who is the Author of Nature is the Author of Grace, and He willed not that one should collide or conflict with the other, but that they should act in friendly alliance, so that under the leadership of both we may the more easily arrive at that immortal happiness for which we mortal men were created.
But men of carnal mind, who love nothing but themselves, allow their thoughts to grovel upon things of earth until they are unable to lift them to that which is higher. For, far from using the goods of time as a help towards securing those which are eternal, they lose sight altogether of the world which is to come, and sink to the lowest depths of degradation. We may doubt if God could inflict upon man a more terrible punishment than to allow him to waste his whole life in the pursuit of earthly pleasures, and in forgetfulness of the happiness which alone lasts for ever.
It is from this danger that they will be happily rescued, who, in the pious practice of the Rosary, are wont, by frequent and fervent prayer, to keep before their minds the glorious mysteries. These mysteries are the means by which in the soul of a Christian a most clear light is shed upon the good things, hidden to sense, but visible to faith, "which God has prepared for those who love Him." From them we learn that death is not an annihilation which ends all things, but merely a migration and passage from life to life. By them we are taught that the path to Heaven lies open to all men, and as we behold Christ ascending thither, we recall the sweet words of His promise, "I go to prepare a place for you." By them we are reminded that a time will come when "God will wipe away every tear from our eyes," and that "neither mourning, nor crying, nor sorrow, shall be any more," and that "We shall be always with the Lord," and "like to the Lord, for we shall see Him as He is," and "drink of the torrent of His delight," as "fellow-citizens of the saints," in the blessed companionship of our glorious Queen and Mother. Dwelling upon such a prospect, our hearts are kindled with desire, and we exclaim, in the words of a great saint, "How vile grows the earth when I look up to heaven!" Then, too, shall we feel the solace of the assurance "that which is at present momentary and light of our tribulation worketh for us above measure exceedingly an eternal weight of glory" (2 Cor. iv., 17).
Here alone we discover the true relation between time and eternity, between our life on earth and our life in heaven; and it is thus alone that are formed strong and noble characters. When such characters can be counted in large numbers, the dignity and well-being of society are assured. All that is beautiful, good, and true will flourish in the measure of its conformity to Him who is of all beauty, goodness, and truth the first Principle and the Eternal Source.
These considerations will explain what We have already laid down concerning the fruitful advantages which are to be derived from the use of the Rosary, and the healing power which this devotion possesses for the evils of the age and the fatal sores of society. These advantages, as we may readily conceive, will be secured in a higher and fuller measure by those who band themselves together in the sacred Confraternity of the Rosary, and who are thus more than others united by a special and brotherly bond of devotion to the Most Holy Virgin. In this Confraternity, approved by the Roman Pontiffs, and enriched by them with indulgences and privileges, they possess their own rule and government, hold their meetings at stated times, and are provided with ample means of leading a holy life and of laboring for the good of the community. They are, are so to speak, the battalions who fight the battle of Christ, armed with His Sacred Mysteries, and under the banner and guidance of the Heavenly Queen. How faithfully her intercession is exercised in response to their prayers, processions, and solemnities is written in the whole experience of the Church not less than in the splendor of the victory of Lepanto.
As we know, there is a greater victory coming: that of Our Lady's Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart following the proper consecration of Russia by a pope and all of the world's bishops in exact accord with Our Lady's Fatima Message. We are called to be participants in helping to usher in the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary by our assiduous devotion to Our Lady's Most Holy Rosary and our evangelical zeal to bring all those God places in our path each day to love Our Lady and to pray her Most Holy Rosary.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
Saint Joseph, pray for us.
Saints Peter and Paul, pray for us.
Saint John the Baptist, pray for us.
Saints Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, pray for us.
Saint John Marie Vianney, pray for us.
Saint Dominic, pray for us.
Saint Marie-Bernard (Bernadette), pray for us.
Saint Catherine of Siena, pray for us.
Venerable Pauline Jaricot, pray for us.
Saint Louis de Montfort, pray for us.