Pope John Paul II knew the power of the Rosary. In his 2002 encyclical Rosarium Virginis Mariae (On the Most Holy Rosary), he called the Rosary “an effective spiritual weapon against the evils afflicting society.”
Imagine how effective 1 million Rosaries all prayed at the same hour for one cause could be. That’s the vision and the goal of the Saint Michael the Archangel Foundation, which is organizing a U.S. prayer event, “One Million Rosaries for Unborn Babies,” from its home base in Memphis, Tenn.
Founder and president Patrick Benedict is hoping to galvanize a movement of individuals, parishes and organizations across America to sign up and pray together for one hour, beginning 9 a.m. Eastern time, on May 3, for one intention: “ending the surgical and non-surgical killing of unborn babies.”
“We’re in a major crisis situation,” says Benedict, pointing out that, since 1973, nearly 49 million unborn babies have been known killed and untold numbers more have died by non-surgical means.
“Neither politics nor education is the primary way to stop the killing of unborn babies,” he says. “The culture of life going against the culture of death is primarily a spiritual battle. We have to use spiritual weaponry.”
This grassroots effort is now spreading across the country. The Catholic Daughters of the Americas included Benedict’s flyer on the Million Rosaries for Unborn Babies in their recent mailing to all 1,500 courts, totaling 84,000 members across America plus Puerto Rico and Guam.
Claudia Bosch, a national regent of the Catholic Daughters, says all the Daughters’ courts (local chapters) were asked to participate. “Our patroness is the Blessed Mother, and we definitely promote pro-life,” says Bosch. “Anytime anything comes out that has to do with honoring the Blessed Mother with the Rosary and with pro-life, we participate to show our support.”
Her own local court has planned to pray the Rosary at that hour, adjusted for time zone, at their parish, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Dickinson, N.D.
In Pennsylvania, according to Grand Knight Reggie Hill of the Knights of Columbus Perkiomen Valley Council 3633, which serves three parishes around Collegeville, the Knights posted the flyer on their website and will participate.
“American Life League thinks it’s a great thing to get people praying the Rosary for the pre-born,” says Leslie Tignor, of ALL’s public-policy department. When Patrick Benedict asked for their aid in getting the word out about his project to all bishops, ALL assisted him in developing his flyer, then mailed copies to all the bishops with Benedict’s cover letter asking their help.
In Benedict’s own parish, Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Memphis, people like Paula Witek signed up without delay. Already used to joining others to pray the Rosary Saturday mornings at the city’s three abortion businesses, Witek will come to the May 3 prayer event spiritually prepared. “Praying in front of these places is very powerful,” she says.
Marshalling Modern Media
Father Richard Cortese, pastor of Immaculate Conception Church in Union City, Tenn., isn’t surprised at the million-Rosary goal. He’s known Patrick Benedict, and known of his various pro-life efforts, for more than 15 years. The efforts have included organizing Rosary novenas in front of abortion businesses, promoting prayer events and being involved in the Worldwide Rosary for Life.
“I think he has an amazing gift to use the modern media and computers to promote these type of events,” says Father Cortese. “He’s always asking, through the intercession of the Blessed Mother and the Rosary, for an end to abortion and a change in the hearts of the people.”
There is much historical precedent to viewing the Rosary as a weapon in war. St. Pio of Pietrelcina spoke of it this way quite often. And the Battle of Lepanto in October 1571 led to Oct. 7 being named the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
In that naval battle, an outnumbered Christian fleet famously saved Europe from invading Turkish Moors. St. Pius V called on all Catholics to pray the Rosary for victory. All 65,000 Christian sailors also received Communion and prayed the Rosary together. The Christian fleet’s commander and the Venetian Senate officially credited the major triumph to the intercession of Our Lady of the Rosary.
Patrick Benedict thought of the battle of Lepanto and a similar victory over communists set to take over Brazil in 1961. At that time 600,000 women of Brazil gathered in Sao Paulo, praying the Rosary to save their country and imploring the Mother of God to preserve them from being enslaved by communism. Their prayers were answered.
To get these kinds of results, U.S. Catholics have to know about the Million Rosaries for the Unborn project — and May 3 is quickly approaching.
“If people can give 30 minutes to promote this Rosary,” says Benedict, “that could result in hundreds or even thousands more Rosaries being prayed in this effort.”
His first recommendation: People can tell their pastor and ask him to include the details in parish bulletins and announce the effort to parishioners. Participants also should go to the website and register so the numbers of Rosaries can be tallied.
Hoping to reach and go beyond 1 million Rosaries doesn’t mean the Saint Michael the Archangel Foundation will stop after May 3.
On the website are five goals Benedict encourages people to continue for the same intention — “an end to the surgical and non-surgical killing of unborn babies” — by offering a weekly Mass for this intention, praying one Rosary a week, including this intention as part of the prayers of the faithful at every Mass, adding three Hail Marys and the St. Michael the Archangel Prayer after each Mass, and fasting in some way.
“We have to ask ourselves, ‘Do we need to do anything more than we are doing now?’ Our Lord said that what you do to the least of my brothers you do to me. Don’t unborn babies certainly fall into the category of the least of his brothers?”
Staff writer Joseph Pronechen
is based in Trumbull, Connecticut.
SaintMichaelTheArchangelOrganization.org e-mail: PatrickBenedict@rcin.net
write: St. Michael the Archangel Organization PO Box 41257 Memphis, TN 38174