Thursday, October 19, 2017

Poland's Rosary at the Borders National Prayer Event and the Importance of Group Recitation of the Rosary

Poles in the forest on route to the Polish-Czech border to pray.
Faithful Catholics in Poland walking in the forest near the city of Szklarska Poreba, Poland along the Polish-Czech border during the Rosary at the Borders on October 7, 2017. Photo: Martin Divisek/European Press Photo Agency via New York Times.

It comes as no surprise to read the news coming out of Poland of the Rosary at the Borders national prayer event that took place on October 7, the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary; a feast in which Catholics commemorate and give thanks to Our Lady for Her intercession in the great victory of Christian forces over the Ottoman naval fleet at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571.

The day began with the celebration of the Mass in honour of Our Lady of the Rosary after which the faithful made their way to the borders to recite all four sets of Mysteries between 2:00pm to 4:00pm: the Joyful, Luminous, Sorrowful, and Glorious Mysteries.

This national prayer effort was organized by a lay Catholic organization, Solo Dios Basta Foundation, founded in June 2015, by a group of secular evangelists, retreat organizers, and filmmakers, whose Mission page includes an impressive list of goals, not the least of which is for the "Promotion of Christian culture, activities for the New Evangelization and support for the comprehensive development of Polish society, especially support for cultural, educational and therapeutic activities."

Rosary at the Borders, was sanctioned by Church leaders in Poland, and included 320 parishes from twenty-two dioceses participating at approximately 4,000 locations along Poland’s border with Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Russia and the Baltic Sea.

It was a national prayer effort endorsed by Poland's Prime Minister Beata Szydlo—who is the only Prime Minister in Europe whose son is a priest, ordained in May of this year—in a tweet, "I greet all the participants." 

This Rosary event was by no means limited to the land as there were participants in fishing boats at sea, as well as on kayaks and sailboats forming a Rosary-chain on Polish rivers.

One of Solo Dios Basta's (God Alone is Enough) founders, Maciej Bodasiński, stated that many people also prayed over the radio, in parish churches, in homes, at the airport, in hospitals, in the streets, and at roadside crosses and chapels.

In addition, there were many Catholics from all around the world reciting the Rosary, united with the people of Poland: Akita, Japan, New Zealand, the village of Stamsund in the Lofoten Island above the Arctic Circle, China, Cambodia, Germany, Great Britain, Norway, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and in the USA.

Polish soldiers stationed in Afghanistan also prayed the Rosary in solidarity with their fellow countrymen back in Poland.

Many of us here in Canada were also united to this national prayer effort!

Mountain view of participants at the Rosary at the Borders prayer event
Mountain view of the Rosary at the Borders event on October 7, 2017. Photo: Solo Dios Basta Foundation

Poles have always had a strong awareness and understanding of their Christian culture and identity; a fact that I first discovered when reading, Witness To Hopea book written by George Weigel, on the life of a young Polish man, Karol Wojtyła, who later become Fr. Karol Wojtyła and whose vocational path led him to become as he is more widely known, Saint John Paul II.

It was during that reading in 2003—to which I dedicated the majority of my summer weekends—that I became quite impressed with the Catholic Church in Poland specifically with respect to how the young Karol Wojtyła, together with millions of other Poles, kept their Christian culture and identity alive during the Nazi occupation—a time when Poland's political borders were temporarily removed from the map of Europe—and during the many decades that followed under the Communist regime that lasted for half a century.

Today we see that same Polish spirit, keenly aware of the importance of the Rosary for the protection of Poland and Europe, for the conversion of sinners and unbelievers, and peace in the world.

It is with that same spirit that the Poles have responded to a similar threat as in the sixteenth century: the threat of Islam overrunning Europe. Unlike the military threat of the 1500s, today's Muslim threat comes in the form of aggressive migration to Europe from Africa, the Middle East, and from even farther away locations like Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries in that region.

Poles have always understood that the threat of Islam is primarily a spiritual battle that is to be primarily fought and sustained with spiritual weapons; namely, the Holy Mass and the daily recitation of the entire Rosary!

It is an understanding that has translated into other forms of action. Poland, together with Hungary, have lead the Visegrad Four (Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia) in rejecting all Muslim migration to their respective countries: the Soros scheme that Brussels has embraced to change Europe's demographics and Christian culture through a massive influx of Muslim migrants, who are overwhelmingly men in their prime.

So threatened is Christianity today in Europe, that Krakow Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski stated during Mass, “Let’s pray for other nations of Europe and the world to understand that we need to return to the Christian roots of European culture if we want Europe to remain Europe."

We see the same concerns in the Czech Republic elections, in which migration fears dominate the election.

In the recent Austrian election, the people voted Sebastian Kurz, from the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), into power who is expected to be the next chancellor and form a coalition with Heinz-Christian Strache of the Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ); both of whom are conservative and share beliefs in common with Poland and Hungary, including the rejection of Muslim migrants.

Rosary chain at the border. Photo: LifeSiteNews/‘There was spiritual unity:’ Catholics reflect on Poland rosary crusade

Many Catholics could learn from Poland of the importance of group recitation of the Rosary, which although may be inferred by the large amount of participants through "strength in numbers"—estimated to have been approximately 1.5 million Catholics—is probably something that is not fully understood.

The specifics of that full understanding are available to us from Saint Louis De Montfort's book, The Secret of the Rosary, to which he dedicated an entire chapter, Forty-Sixth Rose: Group Recitation

Saint Louis De Montfort begins the chapter by emphasizing the fundamental importance of group recitation of the Rosary: that it gives the greatest glory to God; that it does the most for our souls; and it is the prayer that the devil fears the most.

Further reinforcing its efficaciousness, St. Louis De Montfort referred to scriptural passage of Matthew 18:20, when he stated, "Our Blessed Lord expressly recommended common prayer to His apostles and disciples and promised that whenever two or three were gathered together in His name He would be there in the midst of them." (96)

Adding a note of encouragement he stated, "What a wonderful thing to have Jesus Christ in our midst! And the only thing we have to do to get Him to come is to say the Rosary in a group." (96)

As an aside, it is worth mentioning the footnote attached to that encouragement, "St. Louis' message fits in beautifully with that of the great 'Family Rosary Crusade' of today." (96) In its current form, The Secret of the Rosary, was published in 1954, which explains the reference to the Family Rosary Crusade: an international Rosary prayer effort, founded by Fr. Patrick Peyton in and around that time, that was well known throughout the world, as was the most famous slogan that developed from it, "The family that prays together, stays together." 

Other important points that St. Louis De Montfort lists for our consideration when praying the Rosary within a group setting are:

  • Our minds are far more alert during public prayer than private individual recitation
  • With prayer in common, the prayer of each individual belongs to everyone and; thus, it makes for a greater prayer in that, if one person is not praying well, someone else in the same gathering who prays better may make up for the deficiency. Those who are strong uphold the weak; those who are fervent inspire the lukewarm.
  • When an individual recites the Rosary privately, that individual only gains the merit of one Rosary, but when recited within a group setting, every individual gains the merit of the group's recitation.
  • Public prayer is far more powerful than private prayer in appeasing God's anger and drawing His mercy upon the Church. This has always been advocated in times of public tragedy and suffering.

Poles praying the Rosary outside of a parish
Praying the Rosary outside of a parish. Photo: LifeSiteNews/There was spiritual unity:’ Catholics reflect on Poland rosary crusade

Saint Louis De Montfort also makes a special appeal to members of the the Confraternity of the Most Holy Rosaryof which I am a member—that no matter where they reside, they should strive to gather together in a parish Church, chapel or someone's home to recite the Rosary in two choirs.

Saint Louis De Montfort elaborated further on the importance of gathering in large numbers to recite the Rosary:
Finally, when people say the Rosary together it is far more formidable to the devil than one said privately, because in this public prayer it is an army that is attacking him. He can often overcome the prayer of an individual, but if this prayer is joined to that of other Christians, the devil has much more trouble in getting the best of it. It is very easy to break a single stick, but if you join it to others to make a bundle it cannot be broken. 'In union there is strength.' Soldiers join together in an army to overcome their enemies; wicked people often get together for parties of debauchery and dancing, and evil spirits join forces in order to make us lose our souls. So why, then, should not Christians join forces to have Jesus Christ present with them when they pray, to appease Almighty God's anger, to draw down His grace and mercy upon us, and to frustrate and overcome the devil and his angels more forcefully? (98)
To illustrate the Rosary's efficaciousness, St. Louis De Montfort cited from his own ministry of the transforming effects upon small towns and villages where he preached missions; places where debauchery, blasphemy, quarrels and feuds ended and became places where hymns and the chant of the Our Father and Hail Mary were heard.

Like in the time of St. Louis De Montfort, there are those today who are enemies of the Rosary and may even try to hinder its establishment and growth—some of whom have even criticized the recent Rosary at the Borders event—to which we can apply the saint's encouragement to the faithful, "...[D]o not give up." (99)

Saint Louis De Montfort dedicated an entire chapter to enemies of the Rosary, Ninth Rose: Enemies, in which he referred to such people as, "freethinkers," who have "absorbed the poison of hell" and are "inspired by the devil." (29)

The Catholic Church in Poland has admirably demonstrated that they will never give up. May Catholics throughout the world be inspired by such faith and devotion.

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