As fall arrives and we start to look forward to the Holidays, the Liturgical year of Holy Mother Church draws to a close.
In the traditional calendar, many of the feasts between mid-September and the First Sunday in Advent make reference to conflicts between Christianity and Islam, and great victories in battles in which the Church—and, more broadly, Christendom—was threatened. The memory of these events turns our thoughts to the end times, when the Church will undergo trials and tribulations before the return of Jesus, Christ the King. We are certainly experiencing some at the present.
It may not be obvious, how dedicating the month of October to the Holy Rosary fits into this pattern. But the rosary—and, more specifically, Our Lady of the Rosary—is credited with victory in a number of the battles that those feasts celebrate. Paramount among these is the Battle of Lepanto (October 7, 1571), in which a Christian fleet defeated a superior Ottoman Muslim fleet and stopped the westward expansion of Islam in the Mediterranean.
In honor of the victory, Pope Pius V instituted the Feast of Our Lady of Victory, which is still celebrated today as the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary (October 7). And, in 1883, when Pope Leo XIII officially dedicated the month of October to the Holy Rosary, he made reference to the battle and the feast.
But, we must remember, October is not dedicated as the month of Mary, that is May. October is dedicated as the Month of the Rosary and October 7 is the liturgical feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.
The best way to celebrate the Month of the Holy Rosary is, of course, to pray the rosary daily.
According to our Catholic tradition and history, St. Dominic received the Holy Rosary directly from the Blessed Virgin in 1206. He had been praying and doing penances because of his failure to defeat the Albigensian heresy. Mary appeared and consoled and encouraged him. But, the Blessed Mother also gave him a mighty weapon, the Rosary.
And, because this was a new way of praying, our Blessed Lady taught him how to say the Rosary and asked him to preach this devotion and to teach others to pray it as well. Since that time many victories, both personal and public, have been credited to the recitation of and meditation on the Holy Rosary. The sad aspect is, we are still at “war” in our world and even in our Church, in one way or another. Satan makes sure of that.
The power of the Rosary is not contested by most Catholics. Let us love this gift given to us by Our Lady. Let us keep this devotion from getting lost in the shuffle or pushed to one side. We may tell ourselves that it takes too much time…but it really doesn’t, if we break it down. If five decades all at once is too difficult to fit into the day, maybe try praying one at a time. One decade of the Rosary takes a couple of minutes to pray (not say) reverently. It’s not ideal, but if necessary, mute the sound during the commercials while you watch TV and say your Rosary.
But, pray it we must; for the survival of our Church and our world. We, my sisters in Christ, can conquer all difficulties and wages of battle with prayer and the presence of our Blessed Mother and her Son, Jesus. We accomplish both when we pray the Rosary. Let us join in our ancestry of the ages and give it to God through Mary, His mother.
Mary, Queen of Heaven, intercede for us.