In the coming year, 2017, the Church will commemorate the 100 years since the first Apparition of Our Lady at Fatima (May 13, 1917) and the great miracle of the sun (October 13, 1917) at Fatima, Portugal. Our Blessed Mother appeared there to three young children, Lucia dos Santos, Jacinta & Francisco Marto. Her request to them for the world was, that we “pray the Rosary each day… If people do what I tell you, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.” Later in life, Sister Lucia in an interview stated, “The most holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary to such an extent that there is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or, above all, spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families, of the families of the world, or of the religious communities, or even of the life of peoples and nations, that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the holy Rosary. With the holy Rosary, we will save ourselves; we will sanctify ourselves; we will console our Lord and obtain the salvation of many souls.”
Pope St. John Paul II wrote an apostolic letter entirely on the Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (October 16, 2002), in which he declared, “The Rosary…is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness…I myself have often encouraged the frequent recitation of the Rosary. From my youthful years this prayer has held an important place in my spiritual life…The Rosary has accompanied me in moments of joy and in moments of difficulty. To it I have entrusted any number of concerns; in it I have always found comfort…The Rosary is my favorite prayer. A marvelous prayer! Marvelous in its simplicity and its depth’.”
Pope Francis, while he was still Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, attributes his daily recitation of the Rosary to Pope St. John Paul II. In a tribute he wrote at the death of the Pope in 2005, he recalls, “If I remember well, it was 1985. One evening I went to recite the Holy Rosary that was being led by the Holy Father…I felt that this man, chosen to lead the Church, was following a path up to his Mother in the sky, a path set out on from his childhood. And I became aware of the density of the words of the Mother of Guadalupe to Saint Juan Diego: ‘Do not be afraid. Am I not here, I, who am your Mother?’ I understood the presence of Mary in the life of the Pope. That testimony did not get forgotten in an instant. From that time on, I recite the fifteen mysteries of the Rosary every day.” (Translated by 30 Days Magazine)
Second only to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, the most effective prayer of the Church is the Most Holy Rosary. For centuries the Rosary has been the cause of miracles, conversions, and victories. It has brought peace—not a false peace of compromise—but a true peace won by directly opposing evil with good. When the Rosary is prayed with humility and simple confidence, Jesus lavishes his wonders on his children and saves nations from wars and destruction.
How can this be? What is the secret here? How is it that there is such power in these beads and prayers of the Rosary? —The real question, however, is not how, but WHO. “Who is she that cometh forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in array?” (Song of Solomon 6:10) The answer, of course, is Mary — The tremendous power of the Rosary comes from the exalted position of the Ever-Virgin Mary, Mother of God!
In the Rosary we meditate on the life of Jesus, and through this combination of prayer and meditation, we intimately unite ourselves with Jesus and Mary.
Pope Leo XIII, also known as the Rosary Pope, issued a record eleven (11) encyclicals on the Rosary. To quote from only two of these beautiful documents, he tells us that: “The recourse we have to Mary in prayer follows upon the office she continuously fulfills by the side of the throne of God as Mediatrix of Divine grace; being by worthiness and by merit most acceptable to Him, and therefore, surpassing in power all the angels and saints in Heaven.” (Lucunda Semper Expectatione, No.2) And, “The power thus put into her hands is all but unlimited,” for she is, at the grace of her Divine Son, “the dispenser of all heavenly gifts.” (Adiutricem, No.8), The secret, therefore, of the Rosary’s power is that Mary has been given this divine office in order to help us. She is a channel of Divine grace, and the Rosary is her chosen prayer for dispensing these graces.
It is for this reason that the renowned French Dominican, Fr. Henri-Dominique Lacordaire (1802-1861), who was responsible for the restoration of the Dominican order in France after the French Revolution, often referred to the Rosary as “the Gospel on its knees.”
With the Rosary’s repetition of prayers, and meditation of Holy Scripture, it actually produces a state of calm in us as we pray — our mind, body, and spirit together receiving the peace of the Rosary. “When such faith is exercised by vocally repeating the Our Father and Hail Mary of the Rosary prayers, or better still in the contemplation of the mysteries, it is evident how close we are brought to Mary. For every time we devoutly say the Rosary in supplication before her, we are once more brought face to face with the marvel of our salvation; we watch the mysteries of our Redemption as though they were unfolding before our eyes; and as one follows another, Mary stands revealed at once as God’s Mother and our Mother.” (Adiutricem, No.25)
What more promptings do we need to convince ourselves of this most powerful prayer. These are difficult times that we are living, and historically it has always been in times like these that the Rosary has been the “weapon” for defeating evil. With her warning at Fatima, her pleading at La Salette, her example at Lourdes, Our Blessed Mother at each visit has asked us for the simple praying of the Holy Rosary. It is her gift to us, and she promises great victories to those who will say it. Whether we pray it on our own, recite it with our families, friends, prayer groups, or in our churches, let us pray Our Lady’s Rosary with faith and humility. She is offering us so many graces through her holy Rosary — let us respond to them!
May the Rosary, this “prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness”, bring about in each and every one of us the promised “harvest” that will change the face of the earth.