‘54-Day Rosary Novena’ Draws a Bead on Marriage and the Family
“We need the Rosary now, like we did in Lepanto.”
So says Dick Boldin, who, with his wife, Terry, launched the 2015 “54-Day Rosary Novena” (54Days.org) with the primary intention: “For the Family and Marriage.” It is an initiative of the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate (RosaryEA.org), of which the Boldins are co-founders and directors. They co-founded the apostolate in 2003 with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, when he was the archbishop of Milwaukee.
“What we’re going through presently in 2015 can be likened to 1571, when the attack on Christianity was rampant in Europe and the enemies of the Church were [out] to destroy Christianity,” Boldin said. “The Holy Father, Pius V, called on all Christendom to pray the Rosary.” The Christians, vastly outnumbered by the Ottoman Empire’s forces, went into battle praying the Rosary.
“But through the intercession of Mary, the great victory was achieved,” Boldin said. St. Pius V credited the result to our Blessed Mother through the Rosary and instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victory, later renamed Our Lady of the Rosary.
The novena begins on Aug. 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and ends on Oct. 7, the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary.
“This is following what the Church has asked the faithful to do throughout all of history, which is to turn to Mary and her Rosary,” Boldin said.
Boldin called the Rosary the “heart of a story” that happened 300 years later, on Oct. 8, 1871, at what is now the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in New Franken, Wis. As a firestorm was destroying nearly 1.25 million acres, plus towns, people from the New Franken area gathered in procession to pray the Rosary all night on the grounds where a chapel marked the appearance of our Blessed Mother — the only approved Marian apparition in America — asking for prayer for the conversion of sinners and for teaching the faith. The fire never crossed the five-acre site’s perimeter, but everything around it was destroyed.
“In our present age, we’re in a spiritual crisis across America, and the world, of a huge magnitude,” Boldin asserted. “So we’re turning to Our Lady and her Rosary to bring about [another] great victory for Jesus Christ — a victory which will come through the prayer of the Rosary.”
The Vision Expands
While the first 54-day effort in 2014 was national, this year’s effort expands to encompass the globe and is being promoted in 66 countries.
Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee, the episcopal adviser who suggested this year’s intention, wrote to all of the archbishops and bishops of America, wholeheartedly endorsing this prayer effort.
“First and foremost, as believers and especially Catholics, everything begins and ends in prayer,” Archbishop Listecki told the Register. “So anytime we’re faced with a particularly difficult situation and crisis, we turn to prayer … and the Rosary.”
He pointed out how people in crisis often turn to the time-honored prayer at the heart of the Rosary: “That’s the first prayer they say: the Hail Mary. It’s the sense of a mother’s comfort and presence, but always the mother points to her Son and says, ‘This is the answer; this is the resolution to our prayer; this is the One who helps us understand his love for us and our love for one another.’”
Mary’s intercession is especially key amid current events. The archbishop explained that when we see “the way the culture has literally attacked Christianity and Catholicism and the meaning and importance of marriage and family,” we must turn to prayer.
Converting Current Culture
Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers (DeaconHarold.com), a series host on EWTN, also underscored the importance of praying the novena for this year’s intentions.
“In God’s eternal plan, he chose the family as the vehicle for salvation,” he said. “The Word became flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Jesus did his first miracle at a family event — the miracle of Cana — through the intercession of his mother. So the greatest saint of the Church is a wife and a mother.”
Applying the lesson, Deacon Burke-Sivers explained, “When we look today at what is going on in the culture — the attacks on marriage and family life — it only makes sense we call upon our Blessed Mother, who is mother of our family, the Church, so that through her intercession Jesus would send us the graces through the Holy Spirit that are needed to re-establish marriage as the heart, the center, the soul, the foundation of culture and society.”
Jesuit Father James Kubicki, spiritual adviser to the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate and national director of the Apostleship of Prayer, believes this novena “does in a sense turn up the heat on the culture wars,” adding, “The great instrument of conversion our Blessed Mother gave us at Fatima is the Rosary. At a time when we Catholics need to be strong in our faith and witness to the reality of marriage and family … we need prayer, and the great spiritual weapon we have is the Rosary.”
Partners for the Novena
Dozens of Catholic organizations and radio stations, many national, are promoting this novena, including the Register and EWTN. Another is the National Council of Catholic Women (NCCW.org).
“We truly believe in the power of prayer and believe Our Lady has asked us to pray the Rosary on a daily basis,” said Patty Johnson, the chair of NCCW’s spirituality commission promoting prayer. “We know our Blessed Mother has asked us to pray the Rosary unceasingly for peace and the family.”
Families and Individuals
Robin and Kathleen Roxas and their eight children, ages 2 to 16, are looking forward to this year’s novena. The family sees it as a way to combat the culture.
“Because this is not a physical, but a spiritual war, for my family, the only solution we have is to participate through prayer,” Robin said. “My 2-year-old can pray; my 16-year-old can pray. This is a great way for the family to witness and connect with the Church and our neighbors for this cause.” Last year, he recalled, “We didn’t quit after the 54 days, but kept on praying.”
Hope Wins the Day
Father Kubicki has noticed, following the recent Supreme Court ruling on same-sex “marriage,” people have become discouraged and cynical. “The 54-day novena gives us an opportunity to fight that discouragement and cynicism with prayer,” he encouraged. “This is another opportunity for us to have faith and practice our faith with a very powerful prayer.”
Boldin envisions the novena in a similar way. “We have this simple, powerful, humble prayer of the Rosary that has provided victory time and time again,” he said. “Again, the time is now.”
Joseph Pronechen is the
Register’s staff writer.