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Feast of the Holy Rosary October 7 by Fr. George W. Rutler

St Michael's Church

October 6
, 2013
by Fr. George W. Rutler

Feasts are reminders that we are invited to the eternal Feast in Heaven. October 7 is the Feast of the Holy Rosary, instituted to celebrate the victory of Pope St. Pius’ alliance of naval forces against the Islamic Ottomans. Even some English Protestants joined the effort in realization that everything Christianity had given us was at stake. The Pope attributed the victory of the sea battle at Lepanto to the prayers of the Rosary. Had events gone otherwise, our world would be bereft of respect for human life, universities, plastic and musical arts, the sacredness of marriage, the equality of women, and the use of reason.

These gifts of Christian culture are vanishing today by default of nominal Christians who have abandoned the faith that shaped their culture. Our cultural struggle is wider and longer than Lepanto. Young men preparing for the priesthood now are enlisting in history’s greatest spiritual struggle. Happily, more men are now enrolled in seminaries in the United States than in nearly two decades: a sixteen percent increase since 1995 and ten per cent more than in 2005. As priests, they will support the faithful laity as the faithful support them.

Attacks on Christianity are drawn in blood in places like Pakistan, Syria and Nigeria. We may be blindsided if we think the dangers are any less in our own country now. The enemy uses cynicism and social pressure rather than weapons of steel.

The prayers of Our Lady are our great defense. Pope Francis’ formal announcement in sonorous Latin that the popes John XXIII and John Paul II will be canonized as saints next April, affirms their desire that we enlist the Rosary in the crusade against Satan and all his evil works. In 1961 John XXIII signed the Apostolic Letter Il Religioso Convegno, along with his personal meditations on the mysteries of the Rosary, which he perpetually recited in between the duties of his daily schedule. In 2002, John Paul II signed the Apostolic Letter on the Rosary, Rosarium Virginis Mariae, as his “favorite prayer” and gave us the Luminous Mysteries to guide us in the darkness of these new days.

Our Lord warned against the “vain repetition” of the Pharisees, who thought that the number of prayers apart from the devotion of the will could bend the ear of God. But vain repetition does not invalidate repetition altogether: the repetitious breathing of the lungs and beating of the heart give physical life; so too does the repeating of the words of Gabriel, Elizabeth, and Our Lord’s own prayer open the gates of eternity. We often bury our beloved dead with Rosaries. My own mother had in her hands a Rosary that John Paul II had given her. But we who are alive must make the Rosary a living prayer, and by so praying we may live forever.

 

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