by Father Ronan Murphy
Sister Lucia dos Santos said that “the Most Holy Virgin in these last times in which we live has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the rosary.” Our Lady requested at Fatima that we pray the rosary every day for peace. Father Patrick Peyton, the famous rosary priest, once said, “A world at prayer, especially the rosary, is a world at peace.” St. John Paul II in his apostolic letter, “Rosarium Virginis Mariae,” called for a revival of the rosary imploring from God the gift of peace, telling us “that the rosary is by its very nature a prayer for peace.”
The rosary is the prayer of Mary’s predilection. Pope Leo XIII once said that “the prayer of the rosary has an indescribable power over the Heart of Mary.”
Blessed Bartolo Longo, a satanic priest who received the grace of conversion, heard the voice of Mary one day say to him, “The person who propagates my rosary shall be saved.” A promise that came to fruition in his own life for St. John Paul II beatified this great apostle of the Holy Rosary on Oct. 7, the feast of the rosary back in 1980.
St. Therese of Lisieux, one of the greatest saints of modern times, found the prayer of the rosary very difficult to pray, and yet she said, “I prayed the rosary every day anyway because Jesus and Mary wanted me to pray it.”
Yes! Jesus and Mary want us to pray the rosary every day. Because, it is the prayer of Mary’s predilection, it should be the prayer of predilection of all Mary’s children.
One of the promises that Our Lady made through St. Dominic is that all who pray her rosary are her sons and brothers of her only begotten Son Jesus Christ. Doctrinally this is true, but the rosary enables us to live that reality.
Sister Lucia said, “With the Holy Rosary we will sanctify and save ourselves and obtain the salvation of many souls.” In his apostolic letter on the rosary, St. John Paul II said that it would be impossible to name all the many saints who discovered in the rosary a genuine path to growth in holiness.
Today, we must return to the family rosary. The rosary has always been the prayer of the family and for the family. You have heard it said, “The family that prays together, stays together.” Praying the rosary becomes a form of bonding in Jesus and Mary, and today more than ever, families need that.
With the rosary, we will sanctify ourselves. As Our Lady promised, the rosary 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 of eternal things. And Our Lady promises us that the rosary will destroy the vices in our lives and decrease sin so that we will grow in holy virtue.
With the rosary, we will save ourselves and obtain the salvation of many souls.
Our Lady promises the soul that recommends itself to me by the recitation of the rosary shall not perish. To pray the rosary every day, she promises, is a sign of predestination, meaning that you are destined to go to heaven.
Whoever shall have a true devotion for the rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the church — if they have said the rosary devoutly, applying themselves to the consideration of its sacred mysteries, they will not perish by an unprovided death. At the moment of death, when the grace of final perseverance is needed, she promises the soul a participation in the merits of the saints in paradise.
If the soul is still in need of purgation before entering Heaven, Our Lady then promises personally to deliver them from purgatory for having been devoted to the rosary. This truth was incorporated into the painting of the Last Judgment by Michelangelo where he shows two souls being pulled out of purgatory by a huge rosary. Once in Heaven, she promises her faithful children a high degree of glory.
And so, the rosary is not just another devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary but in fact “The devotion to Mary.” A devotion truly for our times, a devotion for peace, sanctification and salvation. Many rosaries prayed, many souls saved!
Father Murphy is the Coordinator for Marian Devotions of the Diocese of Brooklyn.