The Rosary of the Virgin Mary, which gradually took form in the second millennium under the guidance of the Spirit of God, is a prayer loved by countless Saints and encouraged by the Magisterium. Simple yet profound, it still remains, at the dawn of this third millennium, a prayer of great significance, destined to bring forth a harvest of holiness (St. John Paul II, Rosarium Virginis Mariae [RVM], 1)
October is the Month of the Holy Rosary, which feast is celebrated on October 7. In the years immediately following the Second Vatican Council the Rosary, a prayer treasured by Catholics for centuries, fell into widespread disuse. The Council’s laudable emphasis on the liturgy as the most important prayer of all Catholics meant, for many, that the Church was calling for less emphasis on the Rosary. “Yet, as Pope Paul VI made clear, not only does this prayer not conflict with the Liturgy, it sustains it, since it serves as an excellent introduction and a faithful echo of the Liturgy, enabling people to participate full and interiorly in it and to reap its fruits in their daily lives” (RVM, 4).
This month also marks the 100th anniversary of the last of the appearances of Our Lady at Fatima. In the course of her six appearances, she spoke these words to the three shepherd children, Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta: “Continue to say the Rosary every day in honor of the Lady of the Rosary, to obtain peace in the world and the end of the war (World War I), because only she can obtain it.” Again she repeated the request: “Say the Rosary every day to bring peace to the world and an end to the war.” And still another time: “Continue the Rosary, my children. Say it every day that the war may end.”
World War I did end, only to be followed by more wars. We have to wonder whether Our Blessed Mother’s message was taken seriously. What is sure is that the Rosary is a powerful prayer for peace. The violence of our times should move every Catholic to take up the Rosary and ask Mary’s intercession for an end to the bloodshed that occurs every day somewhere in the world.
To mark the centenary of the appearances of Our Lady of Fatima, as well as to raise up the Rosary as very much a prayer for our day, I will host a Rosary Rally on Sunday, Oct. 15 at Holy Apostles Church at 2 p.m. In addition to praying the Rosary together with school children from around the diocese, I will consecrate our diocese to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Our Lady told Lucia, the oldest of the three children to whom she appeared: “I will never leave you; my Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead to God.”
Mary’s Immaculate Heart radiates humble holiness, charity and faithful obedience to and faith in God’s will. It is these three qualities — holiness, charity and obedience — that must characterize our hearts because these show us the way to Jesus through Mary.
Our Blessed Mother also called for prayer and penance for the conversion of sinners and reparation for the sins of the world. The essential message of Fatima is the most fundamental need of the modern world. It is conversion, or turning away from sin and returning to the obedient service of God. When St. John Paull II visited Fatima in 1982, he presented himself before the Mother of God as a sinner in need of God’s mercy. But it was not only for himself that he prayed, but for a world in which sin has made itself firmly at home, and the denial of God has become widespread in the among the peoples of the world.
I invite you — with great urgency — to join me and many of your fellow Catholics on October 15th as we kneel before the image of Our Lady of Fatima and seek her motherly intercession for our families, our diocese and our world.
For further information, please see the article detailing the Rosary rally on Page 1 of this issue of The Colorado Catholic Herald and the accompanying meditation on Page 8.