By Catherine Stodola, University of Alabama
With all the trials facing the world today, it is easy to feel lost or helpless. People want to help improve things but are unsure how to make a difference. Unfortunately, no one can singlehandedly cure COVID-19, end abortion, put a stop to racism, or completely fix any other major issues. Most are not even in positions to directly work with any efforts in these matters, but one thing anyone, regardless of age, wealth, or connections, can do is pray, specifically pray the Rosary.
In the 1500s, the Turks had been conquering many lands to add to their empire and were quickly approaching their next target, Christian kingdoms in the Mediterranean, including Rome. Noting their impending doom, Christian European leaders gathered a fleet, but they did not stand a chance against the larger and much more skilled and experienced Turkish fleet. On the day of the fight, Pope Pius V called for Catholics all over Europe to pray the Rosary and ask for the intercession of Our Blessed Mother. Through the power of such a union of prayer and Mary’s intercession, the European fleet accomplished a seemingly impossible task and broke through the surrounding fleet, scattering the Turks and saving Europe.
Sister Lucia of Fatima said, “There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot solve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.” Throughout history, countless saints and religious have testified to the immense power of the Rosary, devoted themselves to praying it regularly, and encouraged others to do the same. St. Padre Pio declared, “The Rosary is the weapon for these times.” Especially now the world is in great need of this weapon to combat hatred, anxiety, illness, and hardship.
Much of the might of the Rosary comes from the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary. People often ask their friends to pray for them or for their special intentions, but so much more can be gained by asking Mary to pray for us since she is so close to God and can bring our intentions directly to Him. It is said that the Rosary is a chain that links heaven and earth, with one end in our hands and the other in the hands of Our Holy Mother. Through Saint Dominic and Blessed Alan de Rupe, the Blessed Virgin revealed fifteen specific promises for those who devote themselves to praying the Rosary, including receiving special graces and special protection. She even stated, “You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.” With such incredible promises and even encouragement to pray the Rosary directly from Our Lady through various Marian apparitions, one would think that devotion to the Rosary would be much more widespread. However, many still see the Rosary as a repetitive, monotonous, and outdated prayer instead of the efficacious tool it is.
Misconceptions about the Rosary often come from viewing it as nothing more than a mere formula for the recitation of prayers. Simply trying to focus on the words of the prayers paves the way for distractions to easily enter and leaves much to be desired. One way to combat this is by offering intentions, either for the entire Rosary or for each decade, and focusing on the intentions while reciting the prayers, but the true key to the Rosary is understanding that the prayers are meditations. Each decade has a mystery associated with it that highlights an event in Jesus’ life. Part of the beauty of the Rosary is the repetition which allows for deeper meditation on the mysteries. While repeating the familiar prayers, you can fully immerse yourself into the scene of the mystery, seeing the event through the eyes of Jesus and Mary. You can imagine the sights, smells, and sounds of the scene and how those present felt at the time and contemplate how the mystery relates to you and your life. Through this meditation and reflection, the Rosary can never be boring; each time you pray the Rosary, you can have a completely different experience. The Rosary itself stays the same, but we do not. Every day, our experiences, questions, difficulties, and strengths change, and the aspect of personal meditation allows the Rosary to adapt and lets God speak to us about all our greatest needs.
Although this probably sounds great in theory, it is still sometimes difficult to put into practice. The hecticness of today’s world opens doors to many distractions, and many find it hard to concentrate on meditations for even twenty minutes without their minds wandering. Thankfully, multiple methods exist to help solve this problem and can be especially useful for those just beginning to build a habit of praying the Rosary. First of all, you can simply read a relevant scripture passage or verse at the beginning of each decade after announcing the mystery. This refreshes your memory about the meaning of the mystery and gives you a starting point for your meditation. You can also pray a scriptural rosary, which helps guide your meditation by providing scripture verses between each Hail Mary. (See the scripturalrosary.org link in sources for how to pray a scriptural rosary.) Finally, as proposed by St. Louis de Montfort, there is the method of adding a modifying phrase after Jesus’ name in the Hail Mary. Also known as a Rosary Litany, this method works similarly to that of the scriptural rosary because it helps guide and focus your meditation, but it does so within the context of the Hail Mary. (Check out the book A Rosary Litany for the phrases and more information.)
Regardless of the specifics of how you choose to pray the Rosary, with the proper dedication, it can have immense power in the world and in your personal life. By committing myself to praying the Rosary every day, I have experienced this same power in various aspects of my life, including healing and conversion for friends and improved relationships, and who can say what could happen if an entire generation of Catholics recommitted themselves to this powerful prayer. Especially in these difficult times, I urge you to take up your powerful weapon and make a commitment to praying the Rosary, particularly for peace and healing in the world.
Still not convinced?
“The Rosary is a prayer both so humble and simple and theologically rich in Biblical content. I beg you to pray it.” – St. John Paul II
“The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.” -St. Josemaria Escriva
“Pray the Rosary every day to obtain peace for the world.” – Our Lady of Fatima
“The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” – St. Francis de Sales
“Pray the Rosary frequently. It costs so little, and it’s worth so much!” – St. Padre Pio