Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Rosary Month

Next Sunday, October 7 is the anniversary of the Battle of Lepanto in 1571, when the Holy League, led by Spain and Venice, inflicted a major naval defeat on the Ottoman Empire. Although land conflict with the Ottomans would continue for another century, this decisive defeat marked the end of Ottoman expansion into the Mediterranean. In Catholic Europe, this great victory was credited to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose intercession had been prayerfully sought through the Rosary. To commemorate this, Pope Saint Pius V established the feast of Our Lady of Victory, subsequently renamed Our Lady of the Rosary, which continues to be celebrated in the Church annually on October 7.

On September 29, Pope Francis invited all the faithful "to pray the Holy Rosary every day, during the entire Marian month of October, and thus to join in communion and in penitence, as the people of God, in asking the Holy Mother of God and Saint Michael  Archangel to protect the Church from the devil, who always seeks to separate us from God and from each other." The Pope has also asked the faithful to pray the ancient prayer Sub Tuum Paresidium  [We fly to Thy protection, O Holy Mother of God. Do not despise our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O Glorious and Blessed Virgin], and to conclude with the Prayer to Saint Michael the Archangel.

In 1946, Pope Pius XII referred to the Rosary as “the compendium of the entire Gospel.” His successor, Pope Saint John XXIII, in a 1962 Apostolic Letter on the Rosary, wrote: "The real substance of the well-mediated rosary consists in a threefold chord which gives its vocal expression unity and cohesion, revealing in a vivid sequence the episodes which bind together the lives of Jesus and Mary, with references to the various conditions of those who pray and the aspirations of the universal Church."

In 1974, Blessed Pope Paul VI (who will be canonized later this month) elaborated on these themes: “the orderly and gradual unfolding of the Rosary reflects the very way in which the Word of God, mercifully entering into human affairs, brought about the Redemption. The Rosary considers in harmonious succession the principal salvific events accomplished in Christ, from His virginal conception and the mysteries of His childhood to the culminating moments of the Passover - the blessed passion and the glorious resurrection - and to the effects of this on the infant Church on the day of Pentecost, and on the Virgin Mary when at the end of her earthly life she was assumed body and soul into her heavenly home. It has also been observed that the division of the mysteries of the Rosary into three parts not only adheres strictly to the chronological order of the facts but above all reflects the plan of the original proclamation of the Faith and sets forth once more the mystery of Christ in the very way in which it is seen by Saint Paul in the celebrated ‘hymn’ of the Letter to the Philippians-kenosis, death and exaltation (cf .2:6-11). … The Jesus that each Hail Mary recalls is the same Jesus whom the succession of the mysteries proposes to us - now as the Son of God, now as the Son of the Virgin - at His birth in a stable at Bethlehem, at His presentation by His Mother in the Temple, as a youth full of zeal for His Father's affairs, as the Redeemer in agony in the garden, scourged and crowned with thorns, carrying the cross and dying on Calvary, risen from the dead and ascended to the glory of the Father to send forth the gift of the Spirit” (Marlialis Cultus, 45-46). 

The Church has long praised the praying of the Rosary and continues to encourage it. For this reason, a special blessing is bestowed upon rosary beads and on those who, as they pray the Rosary, reflect prayerfully on the mysteries of our redemption.

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