Why Our Lady Constantly Requests the Daily Rosary
These constant reminders from the Blessed Virgin and the Catholic Church should bolster our confidence in the blessings of the Holy Rosary.
If we realized all the benefits (both temporal and eternal) we get from praying the daily Rosary, we would not think twice about starting the practice right away in answer to our Blessed Mother’s constant requests.
Sister Lúcia of Fatima wrote and spoke with no doubt about the urgency of the daily Rosary. She made this evident in a brief communiqué to Pope Paul VI on May 13, 1965, at Fatima.
According to Lúcia:
The message of Our Lady of peace, mercy and supplication: In May 1917 Our Lady said: ‘Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world and for the end of the war.’ That is why I beg your Holiness be obliged to intensify the prayer of the Rosary and if it is possible to arrange that on Sundays and Holy Days in all the Churches and chapels public and semi-public where there is no evening Mass, to pray the Rosary before the exposed Blessed Sacrament, ending with a blessing in a spirit of reparation, adoration and supplication.
Why? Because the power of the Rosary has been manifested in its many social and individual victories. The social includes the famous naval battle of Lepanto won on Oct. 7, 1571, which saved Christian Europe from an Ottoman takeover, after Pope St. Pius V called for a Rosary Crusade. That is the reason for the feast day of Our Lady of the Rosary on this date. On Oct. 13, 1917, in the sixth apparition at Fatima, Portugal, the Blessed Mother identified herself as Our Lady of the Rosary. Her message concerned the potential of the Rosary to prevent world wars and the restoration of peace. There were many other occasions verifying this, including the liberation of Austria, Brazil and the Philippines.
Something closer to home is the story of the approved apparition of Our Lady at Champion, Wisconsin, where she appeared to young Adele Brise in 1859 requesting her to catechize the neglected children. This indicated a general need for re-evangelization of the population. A small shrine dedicated to Our Lady of Good Help, a devotion that the Belgian immigrants brought with them, was built at the site of the apparition. Our Lady had warned them of an impending punishment if her requests were ignored.
In 1871 one of our nation’s greatest fires, known historically as the Great Peshtigo Fire, destroyed thousands of acres of dry forest and claimed at least 1,500 lives. People began gathering around the shrine praying the Rosary. That night a downpour of rain ended the fire. The blaze encircled the four-acre property without causing any damage to it. In fact, the white picket fence on the fire side was burned, while the side facing the shrine had no evidence of scorching. Trunks and stumps of the ruined trees were visible miles around but the grass was green on the shrine property. This miracle was attributed to the constant praying of the Rosary during this disaster.
An updated history of the Rosary was done by Father Donald Calloway of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception in his masterful book Champions of the Rosary. Besides century-by-century accounts of developments in the practice of praying the Rosary, Father Calloway also gives brief biographies of key promoters off the Rosary.
The artistically presented book The World of Marian Apparitions by the Mariologist Wincenty Laszewski records the stories of 48 locations around the world where Our Lady has visited since Fatima. These include places under Nazi and Communist control. Some type of ecclesial approval has been granted to each of them. Many of these include the importance of the Rosary. In 1986, at Belpasso, Italy, Our Lady revealed that “the Lord has touched many hearts. … He has made many understand how wonderful and marvelous prayer is, how fruitful is the recitation of the Rosary and my intercession before God.”
Individual Witnesses to the Rosary
There are innumerable accounts of personal blessings given through the Rosary. It saved the life of an intended victim of serial killer Ted Bundy. He victimized several girls in a sorority house but when he then tried to enter one of the rooms he was stopped by some force and ran out in terror. The frightened girl in the room later told a priest that her mother had asked her to pray the Rosary each night when she went to bed. When captured shortly after, Bundy confirmed what he experienced at that time.
The family of a soldier in the Korean War prayed a set of mysteries of the Rosary for him every evening. When the children went to bed, the parents prayed the other sets. One night the mother screamed and said she dreamed that a bomb was directed at their son’s bunker. In his next letter to them, he described how he suddenly awoke one night to the screams of a woman. That caused him to rush out to see what was happening. Then, suddenly a bomb hit his bunker killing everyone. He alone survived.
My sister kept a rosary under her pillow. One night she was awakened by a police siren going by. She realized that someone needed prayers and so said the Rosary. Shortly thereafter, the police came to tell her that her son was in an accident with some college buddies. The car was wrecked but no one was injured. My six-foot-plus nephew had only a chipped tooth. In remembrance of her, her grandchildren asked for one of her many rosaries.
Those social and personal accounts should inspire us to daily praying of the Rosary as Our Lady emphasized frequently in her many worldwide apparitions. Magisterial appeals have emphasized the same.
Magisterial emphasis on the Rosary
The Rosary was the object of papal praise, it seems, for centuries. Their more recent evaluations pertain to our circumstances.
In the late 1800s, during the building of the miraculous Basilica of the Rosary in Pompeii, Italy, Pope Leo XIII wrote 16 documents on the Rosary. The following quotes in a certain sense, summarize its importance.
In 1892 he stated:
This sequence of wonderful events the Rosary frequently and constantly recalls to the minds of the faithful and presents them almost as though they were unfolding before their eyes, thus flooding the souls of those who devoutly recite it with a sweetness of piety that never grows weary, impressing and stirring them as though they were listening to the voice of the Blessed Mother explaining the mysteries and conversing with them at length about their salvation.
The loss of faith was noted further in the same document:
The Christian is so preoccupied with life’s varied concerns and so easily distracted by futile concerns that unless he is frequently reminded, he little by little forgets the most important and the most necessary things. Eventually his faith grows weak and even dies.
And this was before our modern means of communication and transportation including television, computers, phones, cars and airplanes.
Such was the history of Israel as the Prophet Jeremiah laments. “Israel’s sons have perverted their way; they have forgotten the Lord their God” (3:21). The reason was “because there is none that considers in the heart” (12:11).
Mary, on the contrary, as Pope St. John Paul II emphasizes, “constantly sets before the faithful the ‘mysteries’ of her Son, with the desire that the contemplation of those mysteries will release all their saving power.”
Pope Leo XIII announced hope for perseverance in the daily Rosary as he continued in his document:
It can be said without exaggeration that for those persons, families and nations for whom the Rosary retains its ancient honor the loss of faith through ignorance and vicious errors need not be feared.
Also notable are the words of Ven. Pius XII, who proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption of Mary, in his profound 1952 encyclical on the Rosary, Ingruentium Malorum (On Reciting the Rosary). There he emphasized the certainty of the preservation of Christian faith and morals on all levels of life by fidelity to the Rosary.
His successor, Pope St. John XXIII, opened his pontificate with an encyclical on the Rosary, Grata Recordatio (On the Rosary: Prayer for the Church, Missions, International and Social Problems). He emphasized the continued importance of the encyclicals of Pope Leo XIII wherein the Rosary is presented as a remedy for the troubled times the Church has been experiencing.
Trying to correct the theological, liturgical and devotional Marian upheaval caused by a wrong interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, Pope St. Paul VI issued several documents defending her rightful veneration in the Church. His landmark 1974 publication, Marialis Cultus, addressed the question of the rightful place of the Rosary directly. At the end of that Council, he declared Mary officially as Mother of the Church.
The full re-blossoming of the Rosary occurred during the long pontificate of St. John Paul II. His activities and writings usually had a Marian dimension. Every visit to a foreign country included a pilgrimage to a Marian shrine. All his visitors were given a rosary as a souvenir of that event. Besides his initial document on Mary, Redemptoris Mater (On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church) another notable Marian document was his 2002 Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (On the Most Holy Rosary) in which he introduced the Luminous Mysteries to fill in the missing years of Christ’s public ministry. He declared 2003 the Year of the Rosary.
The Rosary helps us appreciate especially the Mass. Pope St. John Paul II centered on this in his Rosary document:
As Pope Paul VI made clear, not only does this prayer not conflict with the liturgy, it sustains it, since it serves as an excellent introduction and faithful echo of the liturgy, enabling people to participate fully and interiorly in it and to reap its fruits in their daily lives.
Pope Benedict XVI confirmed this in his Angelus message of Oct. 16, 2005:
The Rosary is not an obstacle to the meditation on the Word of God and liturgical prayer; it indeed, represents a natural and ideal complement to it, especially as a preparation and thanksgiving for the Eucharistic celebration.
The record of such experiences should bolster our confidence in the fidelity of Our Lady of the Rosary in answering our public and personal hopes, desires and needs.
Rosaries of Reparation
At Fatima Our Lady spoke of reparation to her Immaculate Heart, specifically through the Five First Saturday devotions revealed to Sister Lucy at Pontevedra, Spain, in February 1925.
This was repeated to a 15-year-old boy, Rosario Toscano, at Belpasso, Italy, in 1986. After Rosario’s cure, the bishop had full confidence in the apparitions and built the shrine there as Our Lady requested, later designating it the Marian sanctuary of the Diocese of Catania.
The significance of the five Saturdays is explained in this way. There are five kinds of offenses and blasphemies directed at the Immaculate Heart of Mary: attacks against her Immaculate Conception, attacks on her perpetual virginity, the refusal to recognize her as the Mother of God and of men, the actions of those who instill indifference and hatred toward her in people’s hearts and, finally, the actions of those who offend her in her holy images.
It is not necessary to wait for the First Saturdays to make such reparation. Since there are five decades to a Rosary, each one of these can be offered in reparation for one of the offenses, and thus a simple form of reparation can also be offered each day to keep the spirit of reparation alive in our hearts.