Friday, October 16, 2015

The Confraternity Of The Most Holy Rosary

St. Dominic receiving the Rosary
St. Dominic receiving the Rosary from Our Lady

If you are Catholic and pray the Rosary, you no doubt have made some effort to improve upon your Rosary Devotion during this month of October being the Month of The Rosary. This may have resulted in the reading of books or documents on the Rosary; the setting of new goals to pray the Rosary with greater frequency and renewed zeal; or striving to pray all four mysteries everyday and complete the Marathon of Grace. One of the things you may have not considered is joining the Confraternity of The Most Holy Rosary, an international association of faithful Catholics committed to reciting the entire Rosary, who pray for themselves and the needs and intentions of each member.

The many fruitful advantages derived by those who practice the Rosary Devotion is, as Pope Leo XIII stated in his encyclical Laetitiae Sanctae, "...[S]ecured 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." (16) Pope Leo XIII went on to further state that members of the confraternity are, "...[S]o 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." (16)

If Pope Leo XIII's statements were not enough, perhaps you will be further encouraged by considering the following benefits that each member receives:

  1. The special protection of the mother of God.
  2. A share in the prayer of countless thousands of members the world over, and this even after death. (Each member includes deceased fellow members as well; and thus he/she knows that in turn he/she will be included in the prayers of hundreds of thousands both now and hereafter)
  3. A share in the prayers, Masses and apostolic works of the entire Dominican Order.
  4. The intercession of the entire heavenly court.
  5. Various plenary and partial indulgences.
  6. Six times a year Novenas of Masses are offered at the Rosary Center for members of the confraternity. A notice of these Novenas is sent to members, along with the publication The Rosary, Light and Life to those members who have requested it. Its purpose is to provide sound doctrine and spiritual guidance for readers everywhere.
If you are a Catholic and do not pray the Rosary, nor understand its significance, I would like to share a previously published post, The Rosary - Its Importance For Your Salvation. Consider the Fifteen Promises given by the Blessed Virgin Mary to those who faithfully pray the Rosary. In particular, the Thirteenth Promise that is specific to today's post, "I have obtained from my Son that all the members of the Rosary Confraternity (and all advocates of the Rosary) shall have as their intercessors, in life and in death, the entire celestial court."

Certificate of Membership
As for the obligations once becoming a member, it really is an extension of what you are hopefully already doing; praying the Rosary consistently. Here are the specific obligations: each member strives to pray fifteen mysteries (if prior to joining the confraternity, you already pray the required fifteen mysteries, that is, the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries, you do not have to add another fifteen after you become a member) of the Rosary at least once a week (this does not bind under sin), and must have his/her name inscribed in the register of the confraternity. There are no meetings, no dues. It couldn't be more easier to join!

There is one aspect of the obligations that does require some clarification. In 2002, Saint Pope John Paul II wrote and published an Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae that served the dual purpose of ushering into the Church, the Year of The Rosary (October'2002 to October'2003) and introducing a fourth set of mysteries, the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary. Although the confraternity has yet to receive an official notification regarding the recitation of the Luminous Mysteries as part of the fulfillment for the reception of member benefits, this should in no way deter anyone from including them, simply as a matter of personal devotion to Our Lady. 

A few additional points to consider regarding the Luminous Mysteries. The fact that these mysteries were introduced by Saint Pope John Paul II,
should alone suffice for inclusion in your Rosary Devotion. As a general encouragement, here is what Saint Pope John Paul II stated in Rosarium Virginis Mariae, that in praying the Rosary, "...[T]he faithful receive an abundance of grace, as though from the very hands of the Mother of the Redeemer." (1) He also noted that when we endeavour to pray the Rosary each day more effectively, we as Christians sit at the "School of Mary" allowing Our Lady to lead us to contemplate the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love. He emphasized the importance of the Rosary when he stated the Rosary is "...[A] prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness." (1) Keeping all this in mind, it would not be wise to omit the Luminous Mysteries simply because an official notification has yet to be given to the confraternity.

Further encouragement to join the confraternity comes to us from another great advocate of the Rosary Devotion, Pope Leo XIII, who wrote an encyclical, 
Augustissimae Virginis Mariaeon the Confraternity of The Holy Rosary. It was issued on September 12, 1897, the twentieth year of his pontificate and continues to be relevant and necessary in furthering one's understanding of the spiritual warfare we are all engaged in while on our earthly pilgrimage. The document is five pages printed and is certain to instil in the reader the importance and significance of the Rosary Devotion and membership in the confraternity. With today's post, I am going to focus on two paragraphs in particular: paragraph seven, The Rosary Sodality: Its Excellence and paragraph eight, Special Efficacy of Public Prayer.

The encyclical begins with a beautiful praise of the Blessed Virgin Mary, "Whoever considers the height of dignity and glory to which God has raised the Most August Virgin Mary, will easily perceive how important it is, both for public and for private benefit, that devotion to her should be assiduously practised, and daily promoted more and more." (1)

Paragraph seven, The Rosary Sodality: Its Excellence, is one that is sure to impress upon the reader the significance of the confraternity, also referred to in his encyclical as the Rosary Sodality. Pope Leo XIII first begins by properly attributing its origin to St. Dominic, who founded the confraternity and described it as "distinguished by its antiquity." Taking it to a higher level, he described the association as one whose very soul is the "Rosary of Our Lady." Further to this he stated, "...[T]he virtue and efficacy of the Rosary appear all the greater when considered as the special office of the Sodality which bears its name." He explained that, "[P]rayers acquire their greatest efficacy in obtaining God's assistance when offered publicly, by large numbers, constantly, and unanimously, so as to form as it were a single chorus of supplication." He went on to state that the Rosary Sodality pray in such a manner and by doing so, "...[N]ever fail to obtain certain fruit." To further spotlight the efficacy of the confraternity, Pope Leo XIII made an excellent comparison between the recitation of the Divine Office and the Rosary, "Just as by the recitation of the Divine Office, priests offer a public, constant, and most efficacious supplication; so the supplication offered by the members of this Sodality in the recitation of the Rosary, or "Psalter of Our Lady," as it has been styled by some of the Popes, is also in a way public, constant, and universal."

Paragraph eight, Special Efficacy of Public Prayer, continues from the previous paragraph by not only further elaborating on the efficacy of the confraternity's prayer, but provides real life examples from the history of the Catholic Church. Pope Leo XIII began by stating that public prayers are much more excellent and more efficacious that private ones, describing the Rosary Sodality as, "...[T]he army of prayer, enrolled by St. Dominic, under the banner of the Mother of God, of her, whom sacred literature and the history of the Church salute as the conqueror of the Evil One and of all errors." Further on he noted that the "...[R]osary unites together all who join the Sodality in a common bond of paternal or military comradeship, so that a mighty host is thereby formed, duly marshalled and arrayed, to repel the assaults of the enemy, both from within and without." Pope Leo XIII quoted St. Cyprian to emphasize the efficacy of group and public recitation of the Rosary, "Our prayer is public and in common; and when we pray, we pray not for one, but for the whole people, for we, the entire people, are one." Citing examples from history, he noted how the victories at the naval Battle of Lepanto, at Temesvar in Hungary and the island of Corfu, bear testimony to the power and efficacy of this form of prayer.

Pope Leo XIII's Concluding Exhortation (paragraph twelve) is an especially important inclusion in today's post because he encouraged both the laity and the clergy, to promote membership to the confraternity, serving to unite everyone in the Church, and to better empower them with a most efficacious weapon against mankind's enemy:
We also, Venerable Brethren, moved by the example of Our predecessors, earnestly exhort and conjure you, as We have so often done, to devote special care to this sacred warfare, so that by your efforts fresh forces may be daily enrolled on every side. Through you and those of your clergy who have care of souls, let the people know and duly appreciate the efficacy of this Sodality and its usefulness for man's salvation...We have gladly blessed this devotion, and We earnestly desire that you would sedulously and strenuously encourage its growth. (12)
I hope that today's post has encouraged you to join the Confraternity Of The Most Holy Rosary. In the words of St. Jean Marie Vianney, "If anyone has the happiness of being in the Confraternity of the Rosary, he has in all corners of the world brothers and sisters who pray for him." 

If after reading this post, you are seriously considering joining the confraternity, you can do so on line at the followings links:

Our Lady of The Rosary, pray for us.

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