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One Hail Mary at a Time....

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Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.” ~ Pope Blessed Pius IX

October 7th marks the Memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. Established in 1573 by Saint Pius V, the purpose of this celebration was to thank God for the victory of Christians over the Turks at Lepanto, a victory attributed to the praying of the Holy Rosary. Clement XI extended the feast to the universal Church in 1716.

Throughout the history of our church, so many great saints and renowned Popes spoke of and believed in the power of the Rosary. “Never will anyone who says his Rosary every day be led astray. This is a statement that I would gladly sign with my blood,” said Saint Louis de Montfort, a legendary saint and huge proponent of the Rosary. Saint John XXIII faithfully recited the Rosary at least 3 times every day, making sure to reflect upon each mystery contained within the Joyful, Glorious and Sorrowful Mysteries. As many of you know, the “Mysteries Of Light,” the Luminous Mysteries, were not established until 2002 under Saint John Paul II’s papacy.

In a letter to all Catholics in July of 2002, the now great saint explained that he instituted the Luminous Mysteries in order to address the gap they existed between the childhood of Jesus that is meditated upon during the Joyful Mysteries and his suffering and death, which we of course reflect upon during the Sorrowful Mysteries. Daily Rosarians now pray over these sacred Luminous Mysteries of our faith every Thursday, remembering among other things Jesus’ bold statement “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world" (John 9:5).

Reflecting and meditating upon these mysteries, with the Hail Mary serving as the cornerstone of this devotion, truly opens our eyes to the very mysteries that we hold to be the foundation of our faith.

Hail Mary . . .

As Saint Bernadette of Siena was fond of pointing out, “You must know that when you ‘hail’ Mary, she immediately greets you! Don’t think that she is one of those rude women of whom there are so many - on the contrary, she is utterly courteous and pleasant. If you greet her, she will answer you right away and converse with you!” It’s important to remember these sentiments prior to entering into this powerful prayer; the Queen of Heaven cannot and will not leave her children unaided or for that matter, ungreeted.

Full of grace . . .

Mary could not possibly possess more of God’s grace within her Immaculate heart, hence she is utterly and literally “full.” Room for no more. That is how spotless the Queen of Heaven was, is, and forever will be. For those who are wise enough to seek her constant intercession, this should be a source of enormous hope.

The Lord is with thee . . .

Figuratively and literally.

Blessed are you among women . . .

One word: fiat (Luke 1:38).

And Blessed is the fruit of thy womb . . .

For those who say that this prayer is too “Mary-centric.” It is here where we acknowledge Jesus, the King of Kings and Savior of the world, as being the blessed fruit of Mary’s pure and perfect womb.

Holy Mary, Mother of God. . .

Yes, by virtue of the mystery of the Holy Trinity, this statement, as confusing as it may seem to many, is indeed true. Pray for a greater understanding of the Holy Trinity. Until then, let faith be your guide.

Pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death . . .

We ask the Queen of Heaven for the favor of her prayers, so that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Many grapple to obtain the discipline needed to pray the Rosary on a daily basis. Even those who do so freely admit that they are prone to frequent distraction. Do not for a moment allow this to discourage you. If you get distracted while praying the rosary, simply get back to it. Don’t ruminate or obsess over your shortcomings. That in and of itself a distraction that will only serve to worsen the situation. The only “bad” rosary is the one you don’t pray. In fact you should simply pray for an increase in your desire to want to pray the Rosary. Our Lord waits in joyful anticipation for that prayer you can rest assured.

Start with 3 Hail Marys for an increase in faith, hope and charity for you and everyone in your life, past, present and future. Do that for 2-3 weeks. Then pray a single decade, every day for 2-3 weeks, maybe a month. Before you know it, you’ll be praying a daily rosary, and you might even begin to look forward to it as the oasis of peace and tranquility in a day that may be otherwise filled with anxiety and fear. Slowly those feelings will begin to dissipate altogether.

I’d like to close with another quote from St Louis de Montfort, wherein he shares his thoughts on the power of the Rosary; and remember... one Hail Mary at a time is how we navigate the road to the Kingdom of Heaven.

“Even if you are on the brink of damnation, even if you have one foot in hell, even if you have sold your soul to the devil as sorcerers do who practice black magic, and even if you are a heretic as obstinate as a devil, sooner or later you will be converted and will amend your life and will save your soul, if—and mark well what I say—if you say the Holy Rosary devoutly every day until death for the purpose of knowing the truth and obtaining contrition and pardon for your sins.”

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