By Father Robert J. Fox, director of Fatima Family Apostolate International
There is power in praying the Rosary. Come with me to discover that power - that power than can change the world; that power that can change families; that power than can change each one of us. I am most serious about this. Each time we pray the Rosary Satan loses ground. Where there is prayer from the heart Satan cannot survive.
When we speak of the "power of the Rosary" we speak of the supernatural power that God releases. This power is released when we meditate on the 20 Mysteries of Jesus Christ which makes up the Soul of the Rosary. Thus we look upon the face of Christ Jesus our Savior. We do so in union with the Immaculate Heart of His Mother.
To cooperate with God and His Mother in releasing the power of the Rosary we must get to the soul of the Rosary. Pope Paul VI already spoke of the body of the Rosary and the soul of the Rosary. What is the soul of the Rosary?
Soul of the Rosary is Contemplation
The Soul of the Rosary is contemplating the divine mysteries of Jesus Christ as lived in the life of Jesus Christ on earth. These divine mysteries merited the salvation of the world and each one of us. We place ourselves in the presence of Jesus Christ as He lived these 20 mysteries. The Mysteries of Christ, the Mysteries of the Rosary are then ours. We identify ourselves with these mysteries of Jesus Christ, we enter into them as they merited our salvation.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from the moment He came into existence with a human nature joined to His divine Person was meriting grace for us. The Son of God began to exist at the very moment Mary replied to the Archangel Gabriel; "Be it done to me according to your word." At that moment the human soul of Jesus Christ was created. At that moment the body of Jesus began to form in the womb of the all holy immaculate Virgin Mary. At that moment when Mary spoke her "fiat" - "Let it be done to me according to your word" - the Son of God who is infinite and eternal, now in our time, had joined to His infinite eternal Person a human soul and a human body like our own.
Our bodies, our souls - yours and mine - began to exist at the moment we were conceived, about 9 months before birth. It is held that the soul is created at this moment of conception. That is why human life is sacred at every stage, beginning nine months before birth. Then our person came into existence as God created it.
The was a difference with Jesus Christ, our Lord, God and Savior. His Person, the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the eternal Word, the eternal Son of God - existed always. His Person was not created. And when Mary said, "Be it done unto me according to your Word" (Luke 1:38) the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the Eternal Word of God, leapt down from heaven into Mary's womb. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us." The human nature of Jesus Christ had a beginning. His Person always was and always will be.
The Church uses the expression for this "Hypostatic Union." This means the union of the human and divine natures in the one divine Person of Jesus Christ. Isn't it wonderful? Isn't it magnificent? Isn't it awe-inspiring? We call it the Incarnation. The Word was made flesh and dwells among us. We celebrate this every Christmas. We prepare for this every Advent for four weeks. We meditate on this when we pray the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary. The Mysteries of Christ are ours. In union with Mary we meditate on the Annunciation. With the eyes of our soul we see the Archangel Gabriel come to Mary with the "Good News." Mary's fulfills the will of God with her response and the Redeemer of the world comes among us.
Next we go with Mary on her Visitation to her cousin Elizabeth. There we witness St. John the Baptist leap in his mother's womb as Mary greets Elizabeth who exclaims: "How am I worthy that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?" Then Mary prays her Magnificat: "My soul magnifies the Lord." These are stupendous mysteries of faith. And when we pray the Rosary properly we are there in spirit. We meditate with Mary. The mysteries of Christ are ours. The power of the Rosary is released.
The divine mysteries of our salvation touch our hearts, our souls, our spirits which are transformed more and more into the likeness of Jesus Christ. To this Mary leads us.
The mysteries of Christ are ours. And when we contemplate them in union with Mary, the power of these saving mysteries are released for God's glory and for our spiritual growth. Such is the power of the Rosary.
POWER IS NOT IN THE BEADS
The power of the Rosary is not in the beads however beautiful they may be. Recently I stood with a group of American pilgrims - before the miraculous image of Our Lady of Czestochowa in Poland. For centuries this Icon has been the center of Marian devotion within a national Marian Shrine for Poland. One senses a presence of Mary there. One senses the spiritual power of Mary there drawing her children to Jesus Christ. I was privileged to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass standing but a few feet in front of this miraculous Icon. Then, on September 11, (nine-eleven) over Polish television before the Icon I lead the "Hail Mary." Afterwards the Shrine authorities surprised me with the gift of a most beautiful red Rosary with a large crucifix. The Rosary's crucifix is like the Pope's crozier. With the Rosary came a certificate of a papal blessing from His Holiness.
There is a symbolism in the arrangement of the beads however as pointed out by Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter. ""here the first thing to note is the way the beads converge upon the Crucifix, which both opens and closes the unfolding sequence of prayer. The life and prayer of believers is centered upon Christ. Everything begins from him, everything leads towards him, everything, through him, in the Holy Spirit, attains to the Father" (36).
The Catholics throughout Poland each evening at 9 PM tune in by radio or television for prayers led from their national Marian Shrine, prayers offered immediately before the Miraculous Image of Czestochowa. My pilgrimage group from America was privileged to be there 9-11-2003. The people prayed for the victims of terrorism just two years before - and since. It was then they gave me that magnificent beautiful Rosary. I treasure it as a fine memento. But there is no more power in those exquisite beads than prayers I offer on an inexpensive Rosary which I carry in my pocket. Why is this? It is because the power of the rosary is in the mysteries of Jesus Christ lived in our own lives. The power flows from my response, your response in faith and love to the Mysteries of Jesus Christ as we contemplate them in praying the Hail Mary's.
The Rosary prepares us for Mass
No wonder His Holiness, Pope John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter on the Rosary declaring October 2002 to 2003 the YEAR OF THE ROSARY presents the Rosary when prayed with meditation on its mysteries - as a preparation for a more fruitful celebration and participation in the Sacrifice of the Mass. The Rosary prepares us for the celebration of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. The Rosary re-echoes the divine mysteries we celebrate at the holy Mass.
What we meditate on in the Mysteries of the Rosary are made sacramentally present in the divine mysteries of the Sacred Liturgy. We are there. This is to say - in the Sacraments and the Holy Mass, Christ Jesus is really present in all His divine mysteries and power. He is present for the glory of the Father and for our salvation. He is present in the unity of the Holy Spirit.
The power of the Mysteries of Christ which He lived at historical moments 2000 years ago on earth, this power is every bit as powerful and present today - through the holy Mass and the Sacraments as it was when first lived in His time on earth. The reality, the living reality of what Jesus did, and who Jesus Christ is all are made present to us today. What we contemplate in the Mysteries of the Rosary are sacramentally present in the divine liturgy we celebrate each Sunday, each Church Year.
No wonder the Church speaks of the Mass and the Sacraments, as the celebration of the divine mysteries of Jesus Christ. And when we have meditated those 20 Mysteries of the Rosary we are better prepared for the divine realities to be released into our very own lives as we become one in Jesus Christ. Thus there is power in the Rosary. The Mysteries of Christ become ours. Do you see why Pope John Paul II has repeatedly said: "The Rosary is my favorite prayer." The Sacrifice of the Mass is the favorite and most powerful prayer of the Parish Family - the family of the Church. The Rosary should be the favorite prayer of our individual families - miniature Mystical Bodies - little church - the Church of the home.
We can obtain all things needed by praying the Rosary properly. We are not to give a magical meaning to the power of the Rosary. It does not mean we will get whatever we want. But we will get whatever we need. Often what we want for ourselves is not for the good of our souls and it is not for God's glory. God knows what is best for our souls. God knows what glorifies and saves.
The Soul of the Rosary - meditating on the Mysteries - is powerful. If we only pray the Body of the Rosary - that is the litany of Hail Marys, Our Fathers and Glory Be's - without attention to meditating on the mysteries of Jesus Christ - then said Pope Paul VI in Marialis Cultus - that is like a dead body without a soul. It is like a corpse only - without its soul.
Two World Shrines to Promote the Rosary
Our Lady of the Rosary has used two shrines in the world as significant locations from which to spread her Rosary message throughout the world. There is Fatima but before that was the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii in Italy. The Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii is where Pope John Paul II went tje Year of the Rosary on October 7 - the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. I was happy to offer Mass and lead the Rosary in Pompeii in the Jubilee Year 2000.
This Shrine of Pompeii was founded by Blessed Bartolo Longo, who was born February 10, 1841 in Latiano.
Pope John Paul II in his letter refers to Bl. Bartolo Longo responding to the Spirit, in erecting "in Pompeii a shrine that today has a world outreach." We could not help but be struck by Our Lady being known from Pompeii under her title of "Queen of the Rosary" and at Fatima years later in 1917 she gave her name as the "Lady of the Rosary." There at the close of the 1950 Holy Year Pope Pius XII had her crowed Queen of the World. I want to tell you of the title which is most dear to our heavenly Mother. We know that all her privileges flow from having been chosen to be the Mother of God. As a Mother she listens to us, she responds to us as a loving Mother. She truly shows herself a Mother.
Old Pompeii and New Pompeii are opposites
Most are aware of the ancient city of the pagan and sinful city of Pompeii in southern Italy, close to Naples. It was destroyed in 79 A.D. by the violent eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. The story of Our Lady of the Rosary in Pompeii is of new Pompeii which contains one of the most famous Shrines of Christianity, tied, in its origins and development, to the life of its founder, Blessed Bartolo Longo. Pope John Paul has made much of Pompeii in this Year of the Rosary. New Pompeii owes its existence to one single man, following the inspiration of the Holy Spirit for a sanctuary town. It is the true story of the "Miracle of Pompeii."
The divine inspiration of having to "serve" the Queen of the Rosary in Pompeii, brightened the human and religious life of Bartolo Longo. The accounts of the Sanctuary of Pompeii, a part of the Papal Estates, speak of conversions and prayer. It is little wonder that Pope John Paul II, who speaks so often of the need for the new evangelization - and whose motto is "Totus Tuus" (totally yours in consecration to Mary), would visit the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Sanctuary at Pompeii and give it special recognition in the Jubilee Year 2000. And then His Holiness returned for the Feast of the Rosary in the Year of the Rosary.
The Shrine founded the Town
The Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii also has an interesting story of an image of our Lady of the Rosary. The image was originally ugly and was transformed by artists. Today one sees both St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Sienna in veneration before Our Lady of the Rosary in this image at Pompeii. This Shrine with the image of Our Lady of the Rosary and the resulting call to pray the Rosary resulted in the founding of the town of the New Pompeii. And from there, like Fatima, throughout the world it beckons us to pray the Rosary and tells of the power of the Rosary.
As director of the Fatima Family Apostolate I have been mindful through 48 years in the holy priesthood of Jesus Christ, that it was, as a teenager, making the 54 day Rosary Novena of Our Lady of the Rosary of Pompeii - that I was led to the seminary to prepare for Christ's holy priesthood.
The "54-day Rosary Novena" is an uninterrupted series of Rosaries in honor of Our Lady, revealed to the incurably sick Fortuna Agrelli by Our Lady of Pompeii at Naples. On March 3rd, 1884 after Fortuna and her relatives had begun a novena of Rosaries for a cure, Our Blessed Mother appeared to her saying: "Make three novenas and you will obtain your request." They did.
Later Our Blessed Lady said to her: "Whoever wishes to receive favors from me should make three novenas of prayers of the Rosary in petition and three novenas in thanksgiving."
"You have invoked me by various titles and have always obtained favor from me. Now, since you have called me by that title so pleasing to me, `Queen of the Holy Rosary,' I can no longer refuse the favor that you ask: for this name is most precious and dear to me. ..."
These words were spoken by Our Blessed Mother in 1884 in the approved apparition of Our Lady, mentioned above, which occurred in Naples. It was in the house of Commander Agrelli where Our Heavenly Mother deigned to make known the manner in which she loves to be invoked. For 13 months Fortuna Agrelli, the daughter of the Commander, had endured dreadful sufferings and tortuous cramps. She had been given up by the most celebrated physicians. On Feb. 16, 1884, the afflicted girl and her relatives began a novena of Rosaries.
The Queen of the Holy Rosary favored Fortuna with an apparition on March 34d. Mary, sitting upon a high throne, surrounded by luminous figures, held the divine Child on her lap, and in her hand a Rosary. The Virgin Mother and the Holy Infant were clad in gold-embroidered garments. They were accompanied by St. Dominic and St. Catherine of Sienna.
Mary looked upon the sufferer with maternal tenderness. The patient saluted her with the words: "Queen of the Holy Rosary, be gracious to me; restore me to health." It was on this occasion that the Mother of God made known the manner in which she loves to be invoked, and the title she holds as precious and dear to her: "Queen of the Holy Rosary."
The 54-day Rosary Novena consists of praying the Rosary of petition every day for twenty-seven days; then, regardless of whether or not one has received the request, one immediately begins the Rosary of thanksgiving every day for twenty-seven days.
"I am the Lady of the Rosary"
Every time Our Blessed Mother appeared at Fatima you said, "Pray the Rosary every day." We call our Blessed Mother as she appeared in Portugal "Our Lady of Fatima" but that is not the name Our heavenly Mother gave to herself. She said, "I am the Lady of the Rosary."
The power of the Rosary is seen in Our Lady of Fatima's words on May 13, 1917: "Say the Rosary every day in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war." On July 13 Our Lady said: "Continue to say the Rosary every day, in honor of Our Lady in order to obtain peace for the world and the end of the war, because only she can obtain it." What does this say? When we pray the Rosary and pray it properly we, as it were, empower Mary to have powerful intercession even unto ending a world war and bringing peace to the world.
Fatima begins and ends with the Eucharist
The message of Fatima begins with the Holy Eucharist and ends with the Holy Eucharist. The Holy Eucharist, or the Sacrifice of the Mass - brings us the REAL PRESENCE OF THE BODY, BLOOD, SOUL AND DIVINITY OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST. But the Mass is still more even than that. Notice I said, "the SACRIFICE of the Mass." This means that when we are at Mass Jesus offers - that is - perpetuates here and now - the self same Sacrifice of Himself which He offered on Mt. Calvary the first Good Friday. When we are at Mass we are just as present at Jesus infinite act of Sacrifice of the Cross as we would have been had we stood with holy Mary and St. John the Apostle at the foot of the Cross on Calvary.
The year before Our Blessed Mother appeared, holding her Rosary - extending her Rosary down to us - and begging each time that we pray the Rosary each day and pray it properly - the Angel of the Holy Eucharist appeared. The Angel left the Chalice and Host suspended in mid-air and fell down in adoration of God in this Most Blessed Sacrament, with his head to the ground. The children did the same.
But first the Angel held in his hands a chalice surmounted by a Host, from which some drops of blood were falling into the chalice. What does that tell us? The precious Blood of Jesus is in the Host as well as in the Chalice, yes. Jesus is whole and entire, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity under both consecrated forms, yes. But more. Jesus body is shedding His precious Blood, the same as He did on Calvary. We are reminded at Fatima by the Host with its blood falling into the chalice - that every holy Sacrifice of the Mass perpetuates the Sacrifice Jesus offered on the Cross.
Fatima ends with the Holy Eucharist. This time it is June 13, 1929 and now Lucia is in the convent. She had permission to stay up late and make a holy hour before the Most Blessed Sacrament.
"Suddenly the whole Chapel was illuminated by a supernatural light, and a cross of light appeared above the altar, reaching to the ceiling. In a bright light at the upper part of the cross could be seen the face of a man and his body to the waist (God the Father), on his breast there was a dove also of light (Holy Spirit) and, nailed to the cross, was the body of another man (God the Son, Jesus Christ). Somewhat above the waist, Lucia could see a chalice and a large Host again suspended in the air, on to which drops of blood were falling from the face of Jesus Crucified and from the wound in His side. These drops ran down on to the Host and fell into the chalice. Our Lady was beneath the right arm of the cross (...it was Our Lady of FAtima with here Immaculate Heart. ... in her left hand... without sword or roses, but with a crown of thorns and flames. ...). Under the left arm of the cross large letters, as of crystal clear water which ran down over the altar, formed these words, "Graces and Mercy."
We see here too that Fatima is telling us the offering of the Mass, celebrating the Holy Eucharist - is perpetuating the Sacrifice of the Cross and we are present, we participate.
Fatima begins and ends with the Holy Eucharist. Each time Our Lady says pray the Rosary every day.
To little 7 year old Jacinta Our Blessed Mother appeared in the parish Church at Fatima and taught her how to pray the Rosary properly. Blessed Jacinta was shown by Mary icons or pictures for each of the Mysteries of the Rosary - and thus taught to meditate on the mystery each icon represented. In the Fatima Family Apostolate we have this exact practice in Mary's White League for children. Our Pope suggests this for children in his Apostolic letter on the Rosary.
How grateful we are to Pope John Paul II for opening to the Christian Rosary, during the Year of the Rosary, an even more fruitful way of praying the Rosary and preparing us for the divine Liturgy of the Mass. He has given us the FIVE LUMINOUS MYSTERIES - THE MYSTERIES OF LIGHT.
I have been giving retreats on the 20 mysteries of the Rosary in various parts of the country during this YEAR OF THE ROSARY. What a joy to preach on the MYSTERIES OF LIGHT.
With these Luminous Mysteries we now meditate on the Baptism of Jesus Christ in the river Jordan, the marriage Feast of Cana, the proclamation of the Kingdom and call to conversion, the Transfiguration and finally JESUS INSTITUTING THE HOLY EUCHARIST. What power can come from this public life of Jesus Christ. What power can come from the family that prays the Rosary together while giving short meditation on the meaning of each mystery.
Think of the father of the family, announcing the 5th Luminous Mystery to his children, "Jesus institutes the Holy Eucharist: Then the father could give to his children a short meditation like: The night before He died our loving Lord took bread and wine and changed it into His own Body and Blood for us to receive in Holy Communion. Jesus said that he was going to dying on the Cross and that whenever the Apostles offered Holy Mass Jesus would make present Himself, and His death on the Cross. Let us keep in our mind Jesus doing this as we pray these 10 Hail Marys." What effect that would have on the children of the family. And even more powerful if they could hold up an Icon - a picture of the Last Supper to gaze at while praying the 5th Luminous Mystery.
There is power in the Rosary. All Catholic individuals and families praying the Rosary would release untold power through the intercession of the Mother of God and the Spouse of the Holy Spirit who has a dignity, said St. Thomas Aquinas - approaching the confines of the Infinite. Heaven has asked us to pray the Rosary daily and properly. We cannot afford to avoid this call of heaven. God bless you.