As we begin the month of October, I feel the need to offer some few thoughts concerning the Rosary, which is indisputably the queen of all Catholic devotions. I believe that this is a mere observation of mine, with which popes, saints and the rest of the faithful would agree. There is no other devotion more universal, more popular, and more endearing to the faithful than the Rosary. In the history of spirituality, there is no other devotion in which saints and lovers of God ahd found the surest way to holiness than in this devotion. Considering its importance and appeal, we make this central question: WHAT IS THE ROSARY?
· IT IS A CHRISTOCENTRIC PRAYER. People, when asked about the Rosary, would surely respond without batting an eyelash that the Rosary is a marian devotion. This is correct, but I see the importance of placing this essential element in the first place. At the very heart of the prayer of the Rosary is the figure of Christ. In his encyclical Rosarium Virginis Mariae (the latest papal document among the many concerning the Rosary) Bl. John Paul II points out that “the Rosary, though clearly Marian in character, is at heart a Christocentric prayer”. It is one that is directed to Christ, and is about Christ, the mysteries of his life, mysteries which concern us because they are mysteries of our redemption. As such, it is a prayer that moves us closer to Christ, allowing us to get to know him better and thus, love him even more.
· IT IS A MARIAN PRAYER. Not only is the Rosary about Christ, but also it considers the life and the mystery of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man, from the Virgin Mary’s point of view. It is a prayer from the personal experience form the Mother of the Redeemer. There is a wise saying that goes that the best expert of a person’s history is his own mother. This is very true in Mary’s case. Who better than her can allow us a glimpse of the mysteries of the life of Christ? The contemplation of Christ has an incomparable model in Mary; no one has ever devoted himself to the contemplation of the face of Christ as Mary, and the rosary is nothing else but walking with the Blessed Mother as she relives in her heart her convivence with her son.
· IT HOLDS IN ESSENCE THE SECRET TO SANCTITY. Blessed Bartolo Longo, an ardent promoter of this devotion in his native Pompeii (Italy) and a fervent son of Mary, once said, “Whoever spreads the Rosary is saved!” These words would only have sense when we understand the whole of Christian life as contemplation and the imitation of the life of Christ. These are two things that go hand in hand: the Christian is one who looks at the life of Christ, seeking to imitate it, to assimilate it, so that, once transformed by this very life, he could say along with St. Paul, it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. The Rosary is precisely the contemplation of the life of Christ, one that is never complete without the next logical step: emulation, imitation, making the Christ’s life one’s very own. This is what true devotion to Mary means, to use the title of one of St. Louis Grignion de Montfort’s works, a true masterpiece of spirituality. The Rosary is one powerful aid to achieve personal holiness.
· IT IS A VERY POWERFUL SPIRITUAL TOOL. This has been lived and affirmed by many saints. In the first place, it is a spiritual tool against Satan, against the devil. The devil hates Mary and fears her so much that he can’t even bear to mention her name, as leading exorcists would attest. The Rosary of the Virgin Mary is a powerful spiritual weapon that defeats the devil and his work. We live in times wherein we could not help but see the master plan of the devil: the destruction of the family. This seems to be his top priority. More than ever do we see initiatives that aim to restructure this basic unit of society in ways that are far removed from what the natural family really is: a communion of life and love that springs from the generous and mutual love between a man and a woman. We see lobbies everywhere seeking to deform it, calling for the destruction of the integrity of the family through divorce, legalization of same-sex unions, for arrangements in which even three persons could be considered as a marriage and capable of being called parents! Behind these initiatives is the dark hand of the enemy.
· This leads us to consider that the Rosary is a strong spiritual weapon for the protection of the family, and particularly of the Christian family. We are all familiar of the phrase “The Family that prays together, stays together”. This has been proved true in countless instances. In a family wherein the life of the Lord is called to mind through the assistance of Our Lady, the vocation to holiness thrives and is protected from the enemy. Wherever the banner and the sign of Mama Mary is raised and honored, there her protection resides.
· It is a powerful weapon when we need to ask for favors, especially spiritual ones, which are the most important. This I can vouch for personally, along with countless other people who have benefited from this devotion. In time of need, the daughter or the son who approaches Our Lady through the Rosary never goes away empty handed. Are you struggling against a spiritual vice? Do you wish to increase in virtue? Are you in dire need of something really important? Are you experiencing hard times? Pray the Rosary, commend yourself to Mary’s protection and you shall be surprised by the power of her intercession. This has been proven true, from the time that St. Dominic’s friars were battling the Albigensian heresy in the 13th century, to the ships of the Christian fleet at the naval Battle of Lepanto, from the historic naval battle in Manila to the massive mass of people during the EDSA revolution. One thing that holds these events—historically distant from each other—in common is the recourse to the Rosary. Mary’s intercession is powerful, and under her protection, one is always victorious.
· THE ROSARY IS A DEVOTION SUITED FOR EVERY CHRISTIAN. Contrary to what many may think, the rosary is not a thing reserved for manangs, beatas, or old women who have nothing else to do but stay in churches (which is not true: they do have something to do). Nor is it a woman’s thing alone. Considering the points that we have placed above, one could realize that it is everybody’s prayer, whether young or old, male or female, married, single, or especially consecrated to God. One could pray it on the way to work, after school, or whenever one can’t sleep. It could be meditated on in the morning, during the lunch break, while enjoying the sunset, or in the silence of the night.
October is a splendid chance for us to rediscover this devotion, and the impact that it can have in our lives, for the better. The best way to live this month (and the rest of the months of the year for that matter) is to take time to pray the Rosary daily. Well done, it only takes as much as fifteen minutes.