(Every person, actually – we are all impoverished without prayer – but we’ll let that pass for now.)
This prayer has been called “a priceless treasure inspired by God” (St. Louis de Montfort), “the storehouse of countless blessings,” (Bl. Alan de la Roche), “the greatest method of praying” (St. Francis de Sales), “the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life… the remedy for all our evils…” (Pope Leo XIII); for centuries it has been the source of countless miracles; St. Padre Pio held it very dear, and it was never far from his lips or his thoughts; by it, Bl. John Massias released thousands upon thousands of souls in Purgatory; for the saints it was a powerful weapon to convert even the most hardened and despairing sinners; it is a perpetual source of light to the blind, strength to the weak, hope to the despairing, and joy to the sorrowful; and in recent times, Mary, the Theotokos herself, has encouraged us to pray this prayer EVERY DAY.
What is this powerful prayer, of which the Saints speak with so much respect, love and admiration? My friends, it is none other than the Holy Rosary!
Greatly detested by the Serpent, but loved by all the Elect, the Rosary is a compendium of the Gospel: it is a meditation on the mysteries of Our Saviour’s life, death and resurrection. In a word, it is a meditation on Divine Love: ‘and in my meditation a fire shall flame out.’ (Ps. 39:3).
Properly said – i.e. attentively, reverently, confidently and humbly [thus forming the unintentional acronym ARCH] – the Rosary is extremely pleasing to Our Lord and Our Lady.
The arguments in favour of praying the daily Rosary (i.e. at least 5 decades) are innumerable. For those of you who have doubts about the orthodoxy or efficacy of the Rosary, you might consider asking Our Lord for light (as we all must), then make a resolution – perhaps for one month – to pray and reflect daily upon the following words of Scripture:
‘Hail [Mary], full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.’ (Lk. 1:28)
‘Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb [Jesus].’ (Lk. 1:42)
Surely no harm can come from this practice. In fact, nothing but good will come from this. Our Lord encouraged St. Francis of Assisi to seek perfection under the guidance of Mary. Should we not do the same? Can we possibly be led astray by one who seeks only to unite us to her Son, saying: ‘Whatsoever he shall say to you, do ye’? (Jn. 2:5) Can we possibly be led astray if we follow the same path that the Saints (who are now in Heaven) have always taken?
One day St. Francis of Assisi had a vision in which his fellow religious were trying to reach Jesus by a very steep, red ladder; but after ascending a few of its rungs, they would lose their ground. Our Lord then revealed to Francis a different ladder; this ladder was white, it was much less steep than the previous ladder, and at the summit was the Blessed Virgin Mary. Jesus then said to Francis: “Advise your sons to go by the ladder of My Mother.”
As Mary’s spiritual children we ought to love her, to trust in her, and seek to please her. She has an ardent desire to help us! She is more than able to help us! We need her help!
We are truly Mary’s children, and as her children, we require nourishment. And with what, we might ask, does Our Lady nourish us? With the fruit of her womb: with Jesus!
‘I am the mother of fair love… Come over to me, all ye that desire me, and be filled with my fruits.’ (Ecclus. 24:24, 26)
To illustrate this point, we have a story from the life of Bl. Benvenuta Bojani. One day while she was praying in church, “she beheld a poor child of exquisite beauty, and, calling him to her, she inquired if he could say the Hail Mary.”
“Can you say it?” asked the child.
Benvenuta immediately began to recite it; and, when she came to the words: “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb,” the Child said: “And I am He,” and then disappeared.” (Words taken from ‘Dominican Saints’)
A similar event occurred in the life of St. Crescentia (one of my favourite Saints!). One day as she was praying thus: “Praised and blessed be thy noble treasure, Mary, which thou didst receive from the Holy Ghost! and praised be the blessed Fruit of thy womb,” Our Lady appeared to her with the Divine Child, saying: “This is the blessed Fruit of my womb.”
We must not think that honour given to Our Lady detracts from God’s glory. On the contrary, we love Mary because God loved her first; we honour her because He honoured her first; we ask for her prayers because He gave her to us to be our mother; and what mother is not eager to help her children? Can anyone truly doubt that Mary loves us as her most dear children, when we even find the prophet David dedicating himself to Mary as her son, despite the fact that she had not yet been born? ‘Save the son of thy handmaid,’ he said. (Ps. 86:16) “Whose handmaid? She who says: Behold the handmaid of the Lord.” (St. Augustine)
“My mother Mary,” said Our Lord to St. Bridget, “on account of her compassion and charity, was made mother of all in heaven and on earth.” “I have become mother of all of you,” said Our Lady to St. Gertrude, “in the womb of my charity, and you have become my children, the brethren of Jesus.” (cf. Luke 2:7).
Now, Almighty God has commanded us to honour our parents. ‘Honour thy father and thy mother.’ (Eph. 6:2) Nothing could be clearer. Well, if Mary is our mother, then we have the duty to honour her and to obey her as we would our biological mother.
With this in mind, let us all take seriously the words of Our Lady in some of her recent apparitions, which simply confirm the constant teaching of the Church and her Saints. Here are some of her words to us, her dear children:
1. “I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day.” – Our Lady of Fatima (in Portugal), October 13, 1917
2. “Pray and do penance. Pray the Rosary frequently. It is the only powerful weapon to attract the blessings from Heaven.” – Our Lady to Servant of God, Edvige Carboni (of Italy), March 1942
3. “Spread the devotion to my Immaculate Heart, in order that many souls maybe conquered by my love and that many sinners may return to my Maternal Heart. Do not fear, for I will accompany with my maternal protection my faithful ones, and all those who accept my urgent warnings, and they — especially by the recitations of my Rosary — will be saved.” – Our Lady to Bl. Elena Aiello (d. 1961)
4. “Each day, recite the prayers of the Rosary… Pray the Rosary often.” – Our Lady of Akita (in Japan), October 13, 1973
5. “Pray the Rosary. Meditate on the mysteries. Listen to the Word of God spoken in them.” – Our Lady of Cuapa (in Nicaragua), 1980
+ “My daughter, do not be afraid of me. I am your loving Mother whom you praise so faithfully every day. Be steadfast and persevere; I want you to know that the Angelic Salutation gives me so much joy that no man could ever really explain it.” – Our Lady to a member of the Confraternity of the Rosary
+ “Never has any man composed anything more beautiful than the Hail Mary. No salutation could be dearer to my heart than those beautiful and dignified words that God the Father addressed to me Himself.” – Our Lady to St. Gertrude
Some final words:
“Mary has recommended the Rosary at Lourdes and Fatima because of its exceptional value for us and our times.” – St. Padre Pio
“The power of the rosary is beyond description.” – Ven. Archbishop Fulton Sheen
“NOBODY WHO PERSEVERES IN THE ROSARY WILL BE DAMNED, BECAUSE SHE (MARY) OBTAINS FOR HER SERVANTS THE GRACE OF TRUE CONTRITION FOR THEIR SINS AND BY MEANS OF THIS THEY OBTAIN GOD’S FORGIVENESS AND MERCY.” – A revelation to St. Dominic