"Pray the Rosary. . . Every Day"
Our Founding Fathers established our country under a premise that they and all Americans would respect and protect the freedom of religion. If we consider the magnitude of this important piece of our country's past and its legislative scripture so-to-speak, we can start to understand not only the importance, and perhaps the value, of prayer but also its power as a tool by which to fight against and defeat evil. Without knowing the level of dedication to daily prayer, or the level of dedication to religious faith that each of our Founding Fathers had, we know that they valued religious freedom and many used this freedom to practice and give testimony to their faith, as they even drafted a respect and honor of God as our "Creator" in various portions of the Constitution.
As Catholics we use this cherished and protected freedom of religion to express our right to practice and give testimony to our faith. We are raised to learn how to recite many prayers, the two most well known and often prayed being The Our Father, and The Hail Mary. We further learn the value of these prayers as we are taught how to pray the Rosary. However, how many of us either learn or are taught the reason we actually pray the Rosary? Growing up as a cradle Catholic, I knew the basics of the Rosary but it never was reinforced much, especially the reason why we said it and when we should. My basic understanding of when we said the Rosary was mostly at funerals of deceased Catholics, as there was always a Rosary offered during the time of visitations and prior to the actual burial ceremony, and then also before masses as I would sometimes go to mass early with my grand parents and would participate with my grandma and grandpa, bringing along with me the very Rosary they gave me when I received my first communion. But why do we pray the Rosary? Does every Catholic know the answer to this? Do other non-Catholics know the reason we pray this? Can we explain it to them when they ask us, or worse when they challenge us as to why we pray---and in doing so challenge our faith? For me, the answer was NO. I am a bit embarrassed to say that up until the age of 40 I did not really fully understand why it was important to say the Rosary, why we prayed to Mary, and what the true value of this beautiful part of the Catholic faith was intended to do for both God and man. So here we go. . .
Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the children to whom Our Lady appeared at Fatima, once said, "There is no problem, no matter how difficult it is, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us, of our families. . . that cannot be solved by the Rosary. There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary."
So why is this important that we pay attention and listen to the words of Sister Lucia? Because the very advice she is giving us was given to her to give to us by our Lady herself. But do you believe this? I certainly do, but only because of the grace I was given after dedicating myself to a daily Rosary during the Lenten season about four years ago. I decided to do something different this particular lent. Something other than the normal Lenten promise so many Catholics do (giving up something like chocolate, gum, coffee, etc.) Instead what I decided to do was to give up the habit of not praying more often and when I dedicated myself to this effort it dawned on me how little I knew about how to properly pray the Rosary. So I dedicated myself to this discipline for the entire Lenten season. And it transformed my life forever. . . and Mary entered my life and along with her son Jesus and God they started directing me to the path and specific things that were dots for me to connect the path which brought to where I am today--living a life of submission to God's calling for me to protect our youth (his children).
Our Lady revealed herself and the following promises to St. Dominic (the very Saint who received the Rosary back in the 12th Century) and then again she revealed it later to Blessed Alan de la Roche (who was responsible for reigniting the devotion to the rosary in the 15th century):
THE 15 PROMISES FROM MARY FOR US PRAYING THE ROSARY:
1. Whosoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary shall receive signal graces
(Signal graces are things as simple as a sign in daily life that answers a prayer or question we have during prayer -- for example, seeing a picture of Mary or a rose (a symbol of Mary) after praying the Rosary)
2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary
3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin and defeat heresies
4. It will cause good works to flourish: it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for Eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means!
5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish
6. Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its Sacred Mysteries, shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of Eternal Life. (An "unprovided death" refers to dying with unconfessed mortal sin in the soul. Mary promises that anyone who regularly prays the Rosary, and earnestly tries to live according to God's will, will be spiritually prepared when their time of death comes.)
7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church (Our Lady ensures the soul will receive sanctifying grace through the Sacraments prior to its departure from the body).
8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the Light of God and the plenitude of His Graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the Merits of the Saints in Paradise
9. I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary
10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of Glory in Heaven
11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by recitation of the Rosary
12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities
13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire Celestial Court during their life and at the hour of death
14. All who recite the Rosary are my Sons, and brothers of my Only Son Jesus Christ
15. Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination
(The Blessed Mother means that a devotion to the Rosary is a good indication that the devotee is on the path to Heaven)
In my next blog I would like to present to fellow Catholics as well as to other fellow Christians (non-Catholic) some great testimony as to why Catholics pray to Mary as it has become very apparent to me recently that many non-Catholic Christians are confused, curious, and in some instances challenging as to why we believe in such faith dedication to Mary as it doesn't say clearly anywhere in the bible that we should do so. I appreciate the fact the two individuals have asked me to explain this to them, and while I did the best I could I realized that as a Catholic I needed more information and a better understanding myself to explain both why we as Catholics do this (in accordance to what scripture asks of us) as well as why it is an important part of the effort to disrupt and prevail over Satan. Stay tuned for more on this topic in my next blog. . .