On October 7, Catholics remember Our Lady of the Rosary, and the Church encourages her members to pray the Holy Rosary more fervently during the month of October. Today’s wide-ranging clergy scandal has been grim evidence of the spiritual warfare being waged within the Church itself. We can help combat scandal with this most distinctively Catholic devotion: the Rosary, a spiritual weapon to reform the Church and heal her members.
The Origins of the Rosary and the Feast
Tradition holds that St. Dominic, who founded the Dominican Order in 1216, devised the Rosary as we know it today. Moved by a vision of our Blessed Mother, he preached the use of the Rosary in his missionary work. Through the centuries, Dominican friars and nuns have worn a rosary on the left side, the side which bore a sword for knights of old. In the battle of the spiritual life, prayer is the only weapon, and it must be used.
Appropriately, it was a Dominican pope, Pope St. Pius V, who instituted the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. It honors Mary for the Christian victory over invading Ottomans at the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571. The pope asked all Catholics to pray the Rosary, seeking Our Lady’s intercession when the battle ensued. This battle literally saved Christendom. Yet it is only one example of the countless miracles obtained and victories won through this prayer of immense power.
The Rosary as a Spiritual Weapon
The Rosary is much more than an optional Catholic devotion for traditionalists: it is a vibrant and potent intercessory tool in the hands of valiant spiritual warriors. Accordingly, popes and saints have attributed great importance to this powerful prayer:
“Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.” –Bl. Pope Pius IX
“We may well believe that the Queen of Heaven herself has granted an especial efficacy to this mode of supplication [the Rosary], for it was by her command and counsel that the devotion was begun and spread abroad by the holy Patriarch Dominic as a most potent weapon against the enemies of the faith at an epoch not, indeed, unlike our own, of great danger to our holy religion.” –Pope Leo XIII
“The Rosary is a powerful weapon to put the demons to flight and to keep oneself from sin… If you desire peace in your hearts, in your homes, and in your country, assemble each evening to recite the Rosary. Let not even one day pass without saying it, no matter how burdened you may be with many cares and labors.” –Pope Pius XI
“We put great confidence in the Holy Rosary for the healing of evils which afflict our times.” –Ven. Pope Pius XII
“The Rosary is the ‘weapon’ for these times.” –St. Padre Pio
“The Holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.” –St. Josemaría Escrivá
More than just a weapon, the Rosary is a healing balm, a meditation on the life of Christ that calms our hearts and strengthens our souls. Those of us who struggle to pay attention or truly enter into the Rosary will find, in time, that the rhythm of the prayers soothes the soul, even when the mind gets distracted.
Recommended Reading on the Rosary
Would you like to learn more about the Rosary’s impact on history and on individual lives? Or discover new ways of praying the Rosary? Here are a helpful few books:
- Champions of the Rosary by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC. This is probably the most comprehensive book ever written on the Rosary. It presents a complete history of this spiritual weapon, 26 of its greatest heroes, and detailed accounts of its victories.
- The Contemplative Rosary by Dan Burke and Connie Rossini. This takes St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila as guides, transforming the prayers of the Rosary into a contemplative meeting with God.
- Praying the Rosary for Inner Healing by Fr. Dwight Longenecker. This offers stories, reflections, and prayerful meditations to use the Rosary as a process of healing from the inside out.
- The Secret of the Rosary by St. Louis de Montfort. This is probably the finest book ever written about the Rosary. It shows the great spiritual power of the Rosary and describes its many benefits.
From St. Dominic onward, the Rosary has been “a weapon and a rose” to defend faith in the God who became man and to draw close to the Mother who leads us to salvation in her Son.
Celebrate Victory though the Rosary
Celebrate today’s feast by praying the Rosary for the intentions of the Pope, the mission of the Church, and peace. Continue this practice through October, the month especially dedicated to the Rosary.
If the state of the Church has you desperate to fight for the protection of the innocent and the purification of the Church, pray the Rosary. As past generations of Catholics have witnessed, trusting in victory through the Rosary can change history’s course and defeat the enemy.
Ultimately, while Lepanto was a military battle, the power of prayer won the victory. In this time of crisis, we must fight—not with the weapons of the world—but with the weapons of the Spirit. Our best and most efficacious weapon for our time is the Holy Rosary. Pray it with confidence, and be amazed at the results.
Our Lady, Queen of the Most Holy Rosary, transform our hearts, purify our Church, and guide us by the example of your Son, Jesus.
Our Lady of the Rosary, pray for us.
© 2018 Maria Vickroy-Peralta. Image: Catholic Exchange.