Mary, Teach Us How to Pray
Many times we cry out in the midst of interior and exterior trials, “Dearest Mother, help me!” When the world is in crisis, the Church cries out: “Mary, our Mother, help us!” What has been her response? The answer given to St. Dominic (early 13th century) against the radical and militant heretics of his time, the answer spoken through Pope St. Pius V during the famous Moslem battle of Lepanto (1571), the answer given to St. Bernadette at Lourdes (1858), and again to the children of Fatima (1917), the answer given to Sr. Sasagawa at Akita, Japan (1973) and then again in the recently approved apparitions at San Nicolás, Argentina (1983-1990) — in each extraordinary event, Our Lady’s answer has always been, “Pray the Rosary.”
As the seriousness of the times intensified, Our Blessed Mother became more specific in her call and asked that we pray the rosary every day. In previous blog articles (The Rosary is Our Spiritual Weapon of Mass Destruction against Satan, Crossing Over the Sea of Mediocrity and Eternal Fire, Mary, Ark of Salvation – “Last Call! All Aboard!”, “Hail Holy Queen”, The Powerful Crown of Roses, 1917, Fatima, Mary and the Moslems, The Month of Our Blessed Lady), I have focused on the power of the Rosary as the means (or as St. Pio of Pietrelcina called it, “the weapon”) of protecting us from the exterior attacks of Satan — even from the most impossible of situations like the eight surviving Jesuits at Hiroshima. Time after time, Our Lady has manifested the power of the Rosary to achieve the impossible. And as we witness the whole world spiraling into a frightful abyss because of its arrogant rejection of God and embracing of Lucifer’s pride that “we shall be like God by our own power”, we need to rediscover — and quickly — the Rosary prayer and make it part of our daily devotion. This is not theological opinion. This is the expressed will of Our Blessed Mother which has been confirmed by every pope since Blessed Pope Pius IX.
But even more critical to the exterior threats we are witnessing against the Church and the family are the interior threats we are facing. If you are doing anything intentional to be part of the new evangelization, you are under attack spiritually. And you are fighting for Our Blessed Mother to get her into the hearts of families, you are under the greatest attack because Satan knows she is the quickest and most perfect and powerful way to Jesus Christ.
Interior Power of the Rosary. So, I want to reflect briefly on the interior power of the Rosary as Mary’s prayer of choice for the family because it is often misunderstood and, even for many devout people, the Rosary is a stumbling block to their personal prayer life. Let’s begin by going back to Nazareth, where the mystery of the Incarnation began with Mary’s fiat. The words spoken of by the Archangel Gabriel to Mary announced, and were part of, God’s greatest work in all of history, the bringing about of the God-Man, Jesus Christ, Who, as the New Adam and Head of the new creation, would save the world from its sins and open once again the gates to Paradise. The power of God’s Word spoken through the Archangel is repeated every time we utter the first part of the Hail Mary. We are, therefore, entering into that drama through contemplation of the unfathomable love and mercy of God the Father, Who gave his unworthy children His Son so that He may reestablish the family He always intended since He first “knew” us (cf. Jeremiah 1:5). We also make that mystery present by uttering those words! God’s Word never returns to Him void:
So shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and prosper in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)
Authentic Christian Prayer. When we pray with devotion speaking with God’s own Word, we enter into that power and make it a reality in this moment of time. This is central to authentic Christian prayer. It is never static or simply a mere historical “remembrance” (although meditation involves this at times). Christian prayer is active and enters us into the living drama of the mystery of the Holy Trinity which is revealed throughout history — throughout a living drama that is continually unveiled (deriving from the Greek apokálypsis — apocalypse in English) until the end of time. This is precisely what takes place in the Sacred Liturgy in which we, like St. John in the Apocalypse, are lifted up into heaven and receive in thanksgiving the great gift of salvation, the Eucharistic sacrifice, that changes all of history.
Mysteries Made Present. Apply this reality to our contemplation of the mysteries of the Rosary and we not only look back to the historical lives of Jesus and Mary, we make them present in our own interior lives and in our particular situation in time. So, when we meditate on Mary visiting Elizabeth and recall the mystery of the Holy Spirit sanctifying St. John the Baptist through Mary’s presence, we pray that that reality be made present right here, right now in our own hearts, in our parishes, in our nation, throughout the Church. When Mary says “My soul magnifies the Lord,” she is not just speaking of her visitation with Elizabeth, but wherever she visits throughout the course of history. This is why the many places she has appeared have an explosive number of conversions in such a short time.
A Gift from Our Blessed Mother. Another important reason to pray the Rosary is that it came directly from Mary, who taught her Son, Jesus, to pray. We often forget this because Jesus is true God and who could teach Him anything? As God, that would be true, but as true man, Our Lord would have learned to pray as any man would learn. Jesus prayed according to the Jewish customs and He would have learned to do so from Mary. This is a profound and beautiful mystery, that Jesus would have learned to pray from His Mother. And Jesus continued His Divine Sonship through every Christian who is spiritually “born” of Mary, who He gave to us from the Cross to be our Mother (cf John 20:27). This is so beautiful because Mary then raises us just as she did the Son of God and also teaches us how to pray!
So, what is she teaching us to pray? The Rosary. A beautiful prayer (meaning “crown of roses”) that is incarnational in every way. It involves our bodies (fingering the beads), mind (our meditation on the core mysteries of salvation) and spirit (our resting with Mary and Jesus at every mystery asking the Holy Spirit to enlighten and empower us in our interior life). We begin each mystery with the prayer Jesus taught us, then move into the ten “Ave Marias”. And while we are meditating on the mysteries we are repeating those words in Scripture that bring about God’s greatest works and petitioning our most Holy Mother to hear our prayers and obtain for us the gift of salvation “at the hour of our death”. We conclude each mystery with a prayer calling glory to the Holy Trinity, the end of all our prayers. This is the prayer Mary teaches us, the Body of Christ. Like Our Blessed Lord, who spent 30 years learning from her, we are to learn from her — this especially includes prayer. This is what St. John Paul II referred to when he said that the Church, who is the Mystical Christ, is to learn prayer from “the school of Mary.” Jesus did. So must we. And from her school, we are taught the Rosary.
We see, therefore, why the Rosary was so efficacious in saving the Church during moments of its greatest trials and why it is the answer for today’s grave crises. The wonders it has worked in the world are only a glimpse of the wonders Mary promises to work in souls and families who pray the Rosary with true devotion, a prayer so important to her for the restoration of families and civilization that she asked at Fatima that it be prayed daily in every home.
Now is the Time. Now is the time to listen to Our Blessed Mother’s call to respond wholeheartedly and pray the Rosary. The fate of the world depends on it. Don’t take my words for it, take those of Our Blessed Mother from the approved apparitions at San Nicolás, Argentina:
“I see an enormous crown of white Rosaries. I see the Most Blessed Virgin and She says to me: ‘You see this crown, because this is what I desire you to do, a true crown of rosaries. Prayer, my daughter, prayer; how many mouths still remain closed, without saying at least a prayer that draws them nearer to the Lord. The Holy Rosary is the weapon to which the enemy fears the most; it is also the refuge of those who look for lightening their grief and it is the door to enter to My Heart.” (4 October 1986, Nº 850)
“My daughter, at this time there is extreme need of prayer. The Holy Rosary will be heard by the Lord this day as if coming from my voice.” (6 June 1987, Nº 1192 — this was the day on which Pope John Paul II prayed the Holy Rosary on TV)
“The prayer is my request, and is directed to all mankind. The prayer must come from a willing heart, must also be frequent and be done with love. It must never be left aside, since the Mother wants that by her the children arrive at God and with which the enemy is defeated.” (6 June 1987, Nº 1192)
In closing, the Rosary is a devotion that is directly tied into living Mary’s call for families to consecrate themselves to her Immaculate Heart. How? That is the subject of my post for October 13, the 99th anniversary of the miracle of the Sun at Fatima. That’s only 7 daily Rosaries away! See you then.
* * * In direct response to the growing crises of our times and in light of the special centenary of Fatima beginning in 2017, Dr. Howard is now offering a special speaking series titled: “Fatima: 100 Years Later — Family Consecration at the Heart of the Triumph”. Dr. Howard is an expert in this topic and is very passionate in sharing how important it is for families today. He is currently booking speaking events for 2017. Visit HeroicFamilies.com today to learn more on how to bring this soul-awakening event to your parish or conference.
Art: Partially restored Virgen del Rosario del Convento de la Concepción de Quito (Virgin of the Rosary of the Convent of the Conception of Quito [Equador]), anonymous, photographed by Jojagal, 27 November 2013, CCO 1.0 Universal Public Domain; Mosaik über dem Portal der Pfarrkirche Dreimal Wunderbare Muttergottes, Buchengasse 108, Wien-Favoriten (Mosaic over the Church “Three Times Wonderful Lady”, Beech Street 108, Vienna-Favorite), photographed by Buchhändler, 2009 own work, CCA-SA 3.0 Unported; The Visitation, Jerónimo Ezquerra, by 1737, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years or less; Vierge à l’Enfant et au chapelet (Virgin and Infant with Rosary), Ambrogio Bergognone, circa 1500-1523, PD-US author’s life plus 100 years; Mirror detail from The Virgin Mary Reading, Antonello da Messina, between circa 1460 and circa 1462, PD-Worldwide; Modified detail from Roses dan une verre (Roses in a glass), Eva Gonzalès, 1880-1882, PD-US; all Wikimedia Commons.