Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, Soul, Faith and Family, Catholic Digest, and Marian Helper. His religion features have also appeared in Fairfield County Catholic and in one of Connecticut’s largest news dailies. He holds an MS degree and formerly taught English and courses in film study that he developed at a Catholic high school in Connecticut. Joseph and his wife Mary reside on the East Coast.
This is the season of peace, but peace is under attack around the globe. There are wars against peoples, Christians, family, the pre-born, marriage, the elderly.
We can’t forget we’re the Church Militant. It’s time to pick up our weapons to fight back. The weapon? Padre Pio told us “her Rosary is the weapon against the evils of the world today.”
Two great campaigns have just launched, urging us to pick up our rosaries and join the battle with the only sure weapon that will conquer evil and bring victory and peace — the Rosary.
Both have major Marian figures in leading positions. The first includes international Marian leaders, including cardinals and bishops from different countries. One is Nigerian Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme, to whom Jesus appeared in 2015 in connection with the Rosary. The second was inspired by and is headed by Cardinal Raymond Burke.
Providentially, both campaigns began on Dec. 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the beginning of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. Both form a two-pronged front to defeat the forces of evil.
But they need us to enlist in this battle that heaven assures us is ours if only we enter the fray using our rosaries. Soldiers leaving their weapons behind are not going to win.
Answering the Call
People are responding to the call. “We started Dec. 8, and much to our joy and surprise we achieved one million Rosaries in one week,” Mark Miravalle told me. He is one of the international Marian leaders who came together in solidarity to start the One Million Rosaries campaign. Because of the response, leaders raised the goal. “Now it’s extended to five million Rosaries,” he said.
Operation Storm Heaven is forming a similar spiritual army of “Rosary Warriors” to storm heaven with prayer.
Thomas McKenna, director of the campaign, reports that Cardinal Burke asked him to rally and unite millions of Catholics to for this campaign to storm heaven with the Rosary prayer on the first day of each month. On those days, Cardinal Burke will be celebrating a Mass in Rome in union with all the Rosaries being said around the world. For the campaign’s official start, on Dec. 8 Cardinal Burke celebrated Mass and prayed the Rosary at Our Lady of Guadalupe Shrine in La Crosse, Wisc.
Together, these campaigns form two fronts. The beauty part is that because of their simplicity people can enlist in both of them.
Goal of 1 Million Rosaries
The goal of 1Million Rosaries is to pray the Rosary for the defeat of ISIS and for the conversion of its members.
“Essentially ISIS at its roots is diabolical, and if it is satanic at its roots, we really need to have a spiritual remedy,” Marian expert Miravalle explains. “Fundamentally, there has to be a spiritual remedy for a spiritual evil. For that we have to go to Our Lady. We have to entrust the spiritual defeat of ISIS to the most powerful intercession of Mary, the Spiritual Mother of all peoples and the Mediatrix of all graces. History clearly bears this out.”
He points to Lepanto in 1570. “It was a clear spiritual victory,” he said, manifested by the naval fleet. The small, ill-equipped Holy League navy met and defeated the very large and powerful Muslim Turkish fleet invading Europe. St. Pius V had asked European to pray the Rosary for the victory. They listened.
After the Battle of Lepanto, Venetian Senators proclaimed it was not courage, not arms, not leaders, but Mary of the Rosary that made them victors.
Miravalle adds that in 1683 at Vienna, 140,000 Muslim troops were defeated by 41,000 Christian defenders through the intercession of Our Lady of Czestochowa and praying the Rosary. And a more recent example is the revolution in Manila in 1986 when one million people prayed the Rosary against the Marcos regime in the face of the military force.
It was the really the power of the Rosary that toppled the regime, Miravalle affirms.
History bears out that Our Lady comes to the rescue when Christian values and Christian civilization are being threatened with destruction when people pray the Rosary.
“We have to initiate a contemporary Lepanto,” he affirms. We’re shown in Genesis 3:16 Our Lady has been given the task to crush the head of Satan, and in Revelation 12 she battles the dragon. Power of praying the Rosary as a global family against this evil is the way to defeat it through Our Lady.
Simple and Easy
For the 1 Million Rosaries campaign, people can commit to praying a special Rosary, or they can simply add the campaign’s intention “to defeat Isis and for the conversion of its members” to the intentions of the Rosary they might already be praying. They can sign up to pray for the intention one, two or three times a week, or even daily.
“This would enlist our Lady to lead the charge against ISIS,” Miravalle reminds.
Heaven this past year gave another reminder of this necessary weapon to defeat this terrorism to Bishop Dashe Doeme — one of the leaders of this initiative — while praying before the Blessed Sacrament, asking Our Lord how to combat the terrorist attacks of ISIS affiliate Boko Haram upon the people of his diocese. Jesus appeared to the bishop with a sword in his hand. When Jesus handed it to him, it turned into a Rosary. Three times Jesus said: “Boko Haram gone.” It was divine confirmation for the bishop — and us — that we battle and defeat ISIS through the power of the Rosary.
Goals of Operation Storm Heaven
Operation Storm Heaven aims to rally one million Catholics to pray the Rosary on the first day of each month throughout the year. Cardinal Burke will join everyone in spirit by celebrating Mass and praying a Rosary for the designated intentions and enlistees intentions. Hierarchy and clergy are encouraged to pledge their Mass intentions and Rosaries.
“The campaign is a response to so much evil present in the world that is challenging the faith of many people and leaving them discouraged,” Thomas McKenna, president of Catholic Action for Faith and Family, explained in his announcement.
“Politics alone and the rhetoric of men and women cannot solve the moral crisis facing America and the world. Above all we need Divine assistance,” he continued. “What better way to defeat the evils of abortion, euthanasia, murder, homosexual marriage, terrorism and so many other evils in our world than by uniting a spiritual army across many continents, Rosary Warriors to besiege Heaven with prayer?”
Among the goals? “To provide spiritual support in the struggle against the temptations of discouragement; to protect our families and our Faith; to stop the advance of evil in our society; to flood souls with Grace and Light and Truth.”
The intentions set by Operation Storm Heaven under Cardinal Burke’s guidance include praying for Our Lord to guide the Pope, bishops and all the clergy “to be holy in all things, faithful shepherds, beacons of Truth, and defenders of Good”; for Light of Truth to shine clearly in the Church; for the conversion of all sinners to the true Faith; for the culture of death to be stopped, defeated, and replaced by the culture of life. Added to these are participants’ personal intentions submitted to Operation Storm Heaven.
Do Not Fear
Miravalle sees a lot of people are responding to ISIS with fear. That’s understandable. But everyone need not feel helpless. These fears should lead us to action: praying for Our Lady’s intercession to stop the terrorists.
“When we pray the Rosary for ISIS there’s a two-pronged victory,” he assures.
“One, we’re allowing Our Lady full expression and enactment of her role as Mediatrix of all graces to both stop the evil and convert its members. At the same time, it brings us personal interior peace, the peace of Jesus.
“It is so important for us that we do not respond to ISIS in fear but with the peace of Jesus which we can only get to full extent through Our Lady. It’s a personal benefit. Remember God is in charge and Our Lady has the power to defeat the evils.”
Cardinal Burke also focused on having hope. His message written to supporters said: “The first temptation Satan uses to break us down is discouragement. This temptation is only an illusion, for Christ alive within us always gives us courage, even in the most trying of times. In such times, as today, we must pray more than ever, especially in the presence of the Most Blessed Sacrament, and all throughout the day. Be courageous, my beloved brothers and sisters! Stand fast with sure Hope! Let us together, storm Heaven with steadfast prayer, through Operation Storm Heaven.”
Join the Spiritual Army for Spiritual Battle
McKenna reminded that politics will never solve this world situation. But we have the power to change history with this ultimate of weapons if only we pick it up and use it.
We need to enlist as Rosary warriors in a vast spiritual army that heaven will have the victory, conquering the world for Christ, as heaven has many times proven.
Miravalle adds another reason to join. As we celebrate Christmas in the warmth of our homes, we have to realize how many of our Iraqi and Syrian brothers and sisters no longer have a home, and when we go to Mass, realize many of them have no Mass to go to and can’t receive Jesus. As we’re surrounded by our family and friends we have to be mindful of our brothers and sisters who have lost family and friends.
“What can we do about it?” he asks. “We can pray the Rosary. This is to unleash the greatest force against ISIS, and this is heaven’s force. It critically includes praying for the conversion of ISIS.” They, too, are created by God and “Our Lady wants them back from the diabolical confusion they are caught in.”
Heaven’s Rallying Cry
At Fatima, in every apparition Our Lady of the Rosary directed to pray the Rosary daily to obtain peace in the world. Miravalle reminds that she made clear “because only she can obtain it.
“That tells us that mission, the peace of the world, has been given by the most Holy Trinity to Our Lady,” he explains. “And the more quickly we respond to her, the more quickly we’ll receive the promise of peace.”
“We know the Rosary can change the course of human history and we need it now,” he urges.
St. John Paul II did. He proclaimed in Rosarium Virginis Mariae (The Rosary of the Virgin Mary): “At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, its deliverance was attributed to the power of this prayer.”
“The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin,” wrote Pius XI.
Hear Blessed Pope Pius IX: “I could conquer the world if I had an army to say the Rosary.”
Heaven is waiting to hand us the victory and has given us the most powerful weapon of all to triumph — the Rosary. Let’s join 1 Million Rosaries and Operation Storm Heaven and use it.