Joseph Pronechen is staff writer with the National Catholic Register since 2005. His articles have appeared regularly in a number of national publications including Columbia magazine, 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 BS and MS degrees 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 in Connecticut.
There’s a sure way to turn the tide and bring victory in the Fortnight for Freedom. It’s simple: Pick up your rosary and pledge to join the “Rosaries for Freedom” campaign.
“Prayer is by far the most powerful weapon we have in this fight for freedom, and it is necessary if we are to ultimately succeed,” points out Father Shenan Boquet, president of Human Life International.
That’s why Human Life International has started Rosaries for Freedom: It's a way for all Catholics to join the bishops in their call for prayer and action during the Fortnight for Freedom, June 21 to July 4.
The goal is one million Rosaries prayed.
Joining rallies, making our voices heard, and knowing the significance of our vote is important, “but we also have a power that goes beyond these worldly obligations — the power of prayer,” says Father Boquet.
St. (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina knew the best prayer in the good fight. “The Rosary is the weapon,” he said.
Father Boquet, who has a devotion to Padre Pio, explains it this way: “We know prayer is the very weapon we use to fight against evil and sin. The Rosary is both weapon and shield. … She (Mary) protects us. She is our Mother. And at other great moments in salvation history, the Rosary has been an important part of those battles, both spiritual and temporal.”
As Our Lady of Guadalupe, Our Lady intervened, and a country was changed.
“We saw what happened in Mexico as a result, and we know it can happen here,” says Father Bouquet.
“We can change, too, if we ask Our Lady’s intercession to help us follow the way of her Son,” he says. “Praying the mysteries of the Rosary is a powerful weapon and shield against the enemy.”
History has proven over and over what the Rosary can do. With the Battle of Lepanto on Oct. 7, 1571, Pope St. Pius V called on Catholics to pray the Rosary for the victory of the smaller Christian fleet against the superior Turk fleet invading Europe in one of history’s greatest naval battles.
People picked up their rosaries. The commander of the Christian fleet credited the upset victory to the intercession of the Blessed Mother through the Rosary, and the Venetian Senate officially declared it wasn’t the generals or arms but Our Lady and the Rosary that brought about the victory.
On May 13, 1955, the Russian communists controlling Austria pulled out of the country without explanation after an Austrian priest got 10% of the population to pledge a daily Rosary for that intention for seven years. Approximately 700,000 did.
When communists were trying to take over in Brazil in 1961, women formed the Campaign of Women for Democracy, praying the Rosary to save their country. At one point, 600,000 gathered for the Rosary in Sao Paulo. Guess who won?
In his 1883 encyclical, Supremi Apostolatus Officio (On Devotion of the Rosary), Pope Leo XIII details the importance of the Lepanto victory through Mary and the Rosary and called for the Rosary “in present dangers,” adding these timeless words: “You have before your eyes, venerable brethren, the trials to which the Church is daily exposed; Christian piety, public morality, nay, even faith itself, the supreme good and beginning of all the other virtues, all are daily menaced with the greatest perils.”
Blessed John Paul II singles out Leo’s encyclical in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (On the Most Holy Rosary), noting the Rosary is “an effective spiritual weapon against the evils afflicting society.”
No wonder Father Boquet and HLI launched Rosaries for Freedom.
“We as Americans need to wake up and see what is happening,” he says. With affiliates and associates in over 80 countries on six continents, HLI knows. “Many of our affiliates around the world do not have religious freedom right now.”
“We actually see the consequence of lack of religious freedom and know what’s at stake,” says Father Boquet.
Father Boquet says that today we are at the precipice: “I pray this moment will be a wake-up call, not only to us Catholics, but to all people of the United States, about what is at stake and why we must all stand together to defend the First Amendment and to protect the exercise of that amendment.”
Remember John Bosco’s vision of the Two Pillars — Our Lady and the Eucharist — that will steady the Church in time of storm and attack? Seek our Blessed Mother’s help for this country that is consecrated to the Immaculate Conception.
Take the Rosary pledge and share it with family and friends, so that people of faith can live their faith in freedom.
“We can win this battle!” concludes Father Boquet. “And a win here will send a message to the world: This is really a fight for all of us who have the right not only to worship, but to be free to live our faith consistently in our workplaces and in the public square, without compromise.”