|The Blue Cross where the visionary Mirjana has her public apparitions on the second of each month.|
Today's post on praying with the heart the Rosary every day is the second in a series of posts on Our Lady's "Little Stones," that began with my previous post, Our Lady's "Little Stone": Monthly Confession.
If you are not familiar with the topic of today's post, let me briefly explain it. The Blessed Virgin Mary has been appearing to six visionaries since June 24th, 1981 in Medjugorje, Herzegovina (officially Bosnia and Herzegovina) and ever since then, she has been giving them important messages for the world. Today, Medjugorje has become the spiritual center of the world, a place of many miracles, conversions, healing, vocations to the priesthood and religious life, drug and alcohol recovery, a place that emanates hope and peace for the world. Our Lady has appeared there because she loves us, her children, and wants to help us in these perilous times where sin has taken over the lives of so many of "unbelievers," those who have yet to know and experience God's love.
Our Lady's "little stone," to pray with the heart the Rosary everyday, is an important message that we need to take very seriously, as are all of Our Lady's messages. Our Lady has emphasized the importance of praying with the heart in her January 23, 1986, message, "Dear Children, again I call you to prayer with your heart..." When Our Lady asks of us to pray the Rosary each day, she is asking us to do it with the heart. By praying the Rosary with the heart, we are saying "yes" to Our Lady and allowing her to be our light to Christ, showing us the path to Jesus. There is no other more surest and quickest way to reach Jesus, than through Our Lady.
The Rosary is so essential to our earthly pilgrimage, it is no coincidence that Our Lady has asked us to pray it. Next to the Holy Mass, the Rosary is the most powerful prayer we have available to us. The Rosary is our effective weapon against Satan, "Dear children! Today I call you especially now to advance against Satan by means of prayer. Satan wants to work still more now that you know he is at work. Dear children, put on the armor for battle and with the Rosary in your hand defeat him! Thank you for having responded to my call." (August 8, 1985)
Our Lady's request to pray the Rosary everyday has been a request made in the past, but neglected by so many. The Rosary was initially given to Saint Dominic in 1214, to convert the Albigensian heretics in Southern France. Our Lady had ordered St. Dominic to recite it everyday and get others to do likewise. Saint Dominic obeyed Our Lady and what resulted was the conversion of entire regions.
Over the centuries the recitation of the Rosary waned in the prayer lives of many families and individuals, some completely omitted it all together from their faith journey. To counter this, Our Lady chose additional servants to reestablish the Rosary. One such servant was St. Louis De Montfort (1673-1716), whose book, The Secret of The Rosary, is dedicated to explaining the importance and significance of praying the entire Rosary everyday.
In our own time, it is a well known fact that Pope John Paul II's favourite prayer was the Rosary. Pope John Paul II's Marian devotion permeated his pontificate and every aspect of his life. The Apostolic Letter on the Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae is an apostolic letter that beautifully captured Saint John Paul II's great love and devotion to Our Lady.
Yet with these and so many other examples to draw from, many people still have not embraced Our Lady's message. The apparitions of Medjugorje have been Our Lady's opportunity to teach us anew, to "pray with the heart." Our Lady asks this of us with with great motherly love and concern for our salvation. What remains for many of us, is to say "yes" to Our Lady, much in the same spirit of Sts. Dominic and Louis De Montfort, Saint John Paul II, and the many saints throughout the history of the Catholic Church.
For some, Our Lady's message to pray the entire Rosary each day may seem like a daunting task, but like anything new, all it takes is some time to adjust and a willingness to persevere. No matter what your daily calendar is like, praying the entire Rosary everyday is achievable. The first step requires you to embrace this new inclusion in your life with a great love for Our Lady.
The next step is to seriously review your daily calendar and set reasonable and attainable goals. This is especially important if you have never prayed the Rosary or do not pray in general.
The Rosary consists of four sets of mysteries: Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful and Glorious. Praying all four sets is what Our Lady asked of us and to complete this each day takes approximately two hours.
The most optimal approach would be to pray the individual sets of mysteries at different times of the day. Each individual set will take approximately 25-30 minutes to complete. If you find yourself pressed for 30 minutes of free time, you can take then divide the recitation of the individual mystery into single decades (one Our Father, ten Hail Mary's, one Glory Be, and one O My Jesus) which will take approximately five minutes. You probably can squeeze in five minutes here, five minutes there throughout your day. In so doing, you will eventually complete one set of the mysteries. Once you do this on a consistent level, seizing those opportunities to recite your Rosary throughout your day, will become second nature.
The last step is all about training to pray the Rosary, which is synonymous to training for a marathon. If you have never ran a marathon before, you need to build up your endurance by setting an initial distance that you can consistently run over a set period of time. Gradually you build up your endurance and add more kilometers. This cycle continues until you have run the entire distance of a marathon.
This is very much the same scenario with the Rosary. Perhaps in the initial stages of your "training" you may only include one or two decades of a particular set of mysteries, but once you recited this initial amount of prayers consistently, you will be able to add other decades, perhaps even enough to complete one of the fours sets of the mysteries. As you continue to build up your prayer capacity, you will eventually have "prayed the distance" and crossed the "spiritual finish line."
Once you do recite the entire Rosary each day consistently, you will come to realize that what once seemed impossible, has now become possible. Like a marathon race, your heart and mind must be in the right place to cross the "spiritual finish line." Each day you will experience the joy having said "yes" to Our Lady's message and completed The Rosary: A Marathon of Grace.
Whether you are new to the Rosary or you recite some of the mysteries or the entire Rosary, pray for the grace to: recite it each day faithfully and completely, with attention, reverence and devotion; to understand the Gospel lessons contained within; to do as Saint John Paul recommended in Rosarium Virginis Mariae—the apostolic letter issued on October 16, 2002, to bishops, clergy and the faithful on the Most Holy Rosary—to contemplate the face of Christ, and the lived Rosary of Our Lady, and to gaze as the apostles did during the Transfiguration (Fourth Luminous Mystery).
Rest assured that I will include all those who endeavour to do this in my daily Rosary. I would like to conclude this post and leave you with one of Our Lady's messages to think and pray about:
You know that I love you and am coming here out of love, so I could show you the path of peace and salvation for your souls. I want you to listen to me and not permit Satan to seduce you. Dear children, Satan is strong enough! Therefore, I ask you to dedicate your prayers so that those who are under his influence may be saved. Give witness by your life, sacrifice your lives for the salvation of the world. Therefore, little children, do not be afraid. If you pray, Satan cannot injure you, not even a little, because you are God's children and He is watching over you. Pray, and let the Rosary always be in your hands as a sign to Satan that you belong to me." (February 25, 1989)
Our Lady, Queen of Peace, pray for us.