|Saint Pope John Paul II reciting the Rosary|
With May being the "Month of Mary" today's post is an encouragement to spend more time in prayer with Our Blessed Mother. Some of you may have already responded to May's Marian theme, while others have yet to do so. If you fall into the latter group, I hope today's post will help open your heart and mind to consider a new or renewed devotion to Our Lady.
Have you thought much about Mary this month? Have you recited any Marian prayers? If you do not pray the entire Rosary; that is, all four sets of mysteries, have you considered adding to the sets of mysteries you currently recite? Have you yet to begin reciting the Rosary each day? Have you ever prayed to Mary? If you find some of these questions intriguing, I hope you will feel encouraged to read further. There are many Marian prayers that you could recite, but today's post focusses on the most Holy Rosary of The Blessed Virgin Mary and its importance for your salvation.
What sets the Rosary apart from other prayers is the efficaciousness of this method of prayer. Next to the Holy Mass, the Rosary is the most powerful prayer available for us to recite. The Rosary is a meditation on the life of and passion of Christ, on Mary's life, on the Gospel lessons and virtues contained within. Mary has been encouraging us to pray the Rosary for centuries. Saint Dominic first received the Rosary in 1214, as a powerful means to convert the Albigensians and combat all sin. Since St. Dominic's time, many other Apostles of Mary have recited and propagated the Rosary including: St. Louis de Montfort, St. Jean Marie Vianney, St. Pio of Pietrelcina (Padre Pio) and St. Pope John Paul II.
In our recent times, Our Lady Queen of Peace in Medjugorje has been emphasizing the importance of prayer for thirty three years. So important is the Rosary for our faith journey, that Our Lady in Medjugorje has included the Rosary as one of the "five little stones," which I have written about in my post titled, Pray With The Heart The Rosary Everyday. The reference of "little stones" is part of an analogy of the little stones God gave to David to defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17). In our time, Our Lady has given us "five little stones" to defeat our modern day Goliath, the Evil One. All five stones are listed at my sidebar for your immediate reference and you can find detailed posts on each one by clicking on the "Medjugorje" label. In one of her many Medjugorje messages on the Rosary, Our Lady stated, "I would like the people to pray along with me these days. And to pray as much as possible! And to fast strictly on Wednesdays and Fridays, and every day to pray at least one Rosary: the joyful, sorrowful and glorious mysteries." (August 14, 1984)
The Rosary is a wonderful daily opportunity to draw closer to Jesus and Mary. It is an invitation from a Mother who loves her children dearly and who wants them to be sanctified and saved. If you are somewhat new to the Rosary, below is a list that reveals the benefits granted to those who recite the Rosary. Saint Louis De Montfort's book, The Secret of The Rosary the Twenty Seventh Rose: Benefits, contains this list:
- It gradually brings us a perfect knowledge of Jesus Christ;
- It purifies our souls from sin;
- It gives us victory over all our enemies;
- It makes the practice of virtue easy;
- It sets us on fire with the love of our Lord;
- It enriches us with graces and merits;
For those of you who have never heard of or read The Secret of the Rosary, it is a must read book for anyone who is serious about the Rosary. In the Secret of the Rosary, St. Louis De Montfort endeavours to express the importance and relevance of the Rosary in our lives, both during our earthly pilgrimage and its significance for our eternal salvation. The Secret of The Rosary contains everything that can be said about the Rosary, in terms of its content, form, real worth and the necessary instruction for its application and use. The Secret of The Rosary will bring to the reader not only a better understanding of the Rosary as a form of contemplative prayer, but especially as a guide to the spiritual life.
- It supplies us with what is needed to pay all our debts to God and to our fellowmen, and finally, it obtains all kinds of graces from God.
From my own experience, it seems that many consider the Rosary as one of many prayers that could be recited, with no particular importance placed upon it. Unfortunately, those that do think this way do not understand the Rosary and why we have been given it. The Rosary is an especially important opportunity for the faithful to accept Our Lady's invitation to sanctity and holiness, to have as our intercessor a Mother who loves us beyond our understanding and who also reads and knows our hearts, who will journey with us, protect us and lead us in the most efficacious and quickest manner to Jesus, Our Saviour and Redeemer. Let us not forget that the primary purpose of our earthly pilgrimage is our salvation. With this in mind, who would not want a powerful intercessor as the Blessed Virgin Mary to obtain for them all that they need for the journey? Many do not think in such terms, but this is exactly how we should view Our Lady's role in our lives.
To further spot light the significance of the Rosary for our salvation, I would like to share an anecdote of a Roman woman's confessional experience with Saint Dominic. I am certain it will serve as a great encouragement for those who have yet to embrace the Rosary and its daily recitation. This anecdote can be found in The Secret of The Rosary's Twenty Sixth Rose: Sublime Prayer. Below is an excerpt from this chapter:
Whatever you do, do not be like a certain pious but self-willed lady in Rome, so often referred to by speakers on the Rosary. She was so devout and fervent that she put to shame by her holy life even the strictest religious in the church.
Having decided to ask St. Dominic's advice about her spiritual life, she made her confession to him. For penance he gave her one Rosary to say and advised her to say it every day. She excused herself, saying that she had her regular exercises, that she made the Stations of Rome every day, that she wore sackcloth as well as a hair-shirt, that she gave herself the discipline several times a week, that she often fasted and did other penances. Saint Dominic urged her over and over again to take his advice and say the Rosary, but she would not hear of it. She left the confessional, horrified at the methods of this new spiritual director who had tried so hard to persuade her to take up a devotion for which she had no taste.
Later on, when she was at prayer she fell into ecstasy and had a vision of her soul appearing before the Supreme Judge. Saint Michael put all her penances and to her prayers on one side of the scale and all her sins and imperfections on the other. The tray of her good works were greatly outweighed by that of her sins and imperfections.
Filled with alarm, she cried out for mercy, imploring the help of the Blessed Virgin, her gracious advocate, who took the one and only Rosary she had said for her penance and dropped it on the tray of her good works. This one Rosary was so heavy that it weighed more than all her sins as well as her good works. Our Lady then reproved her for having refused to follow the counsel of her servant Dominic and for not saying the Rosary every day.
As soon as she came to herself she rushed and threw herself at the feet of Saint Dominic and told him all that had happened, begged his forgiveness and promised to say the Rosary faithfully every day. By this means she rose to Christian perfection and finally to the glory of everlasting life.The lesson to be learned from this anecdote is abundantly clear, we need to pray the Rosary every day. If you are new to the Rosary or you have never prayed it daily, it is not something that you can embark on and hope to accomplish so quickly. To pray the entire Rosary daily may appear to be quite a daunting "task" for those that have never or infrequently recited it, but there is a way to accomplish this. The successful daily recitation of the entire Rosary requires a heart felt commitment and an adjustment to your daily calendar.
One of the fundamental aspects of reciting the Rosary that must be understood from the very beginning is that it is an expression of love and not a "task." Praying the Rosary should not be considered as a forced obligation or recited with the aim of completing all the prayers. Not always being properly disposed does not excuse you from praying the Rosary. The recitation of the Rosary should be a continuous act of love, an extension of your love for Our Lady. The Rosary is "praying with the heart," and an intention you should include each day at each recitation, in order to receive the graces to do so. Praying with the heart is one of Our Lady's most consistent Medjugorje messages to us, her children.
On your part, cooperation with grace must be your daily effort to pray the Rosary, striving to increase your capacity to pray. Reaching your daily goal of reciting the entire Rosary is much like an athlete training for a marathon. As an athlete begins to train for a marathon by running only a few kilometres, so too must you do likewise, by praying only a decade or two and building upon that. As an athlete builds up his or her capacity to run farther, so too will your capacity increase to pray more decades. Eventually, much like an athlete that ran the distance and crossed the finish line, so too will you "pray the distance" and cross the spiritual finish line.
May Our Lady Queen of Peace inspire you to recite the Rosary daily and guide and protect you as you train for the Marathon of Grace.