“There is no problem, I tell you, no matter how difficult it is, that we cannot resolve by the prayer of the Holy Rosary.”
Sister Lucia dos Santos
How many of us recite the rosary mindlessly? Without thinking about why we do or the importance behind the prayers? How many of us actually pray the rosary daily? How many pray the rosary at all?
I will be the first to admit I rarely pray the rosary. It’s embarrassing to admit this. I am a practicing Catholic, after all. I should be the first to embrace this devotion. When I was a child, my family tried to pray the rosary daily. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand the importance of the rosary then and most days I would daydream, wondering what I’d do after the rosary. I was in a hurry to get it over with and would carelessly recite the prayers. To me, the rosary was a LONG 15 minutes. I know many people who still see the rosary the same way. How blessed I was to grow up in a family that made an effort to pray the rosary daily. How sad I didn’t pray it faithfully all those years.
I grew up, got married and started having kids. And suddenly found myself falling even farther behind in my prayer life. You know the excuses: the dishes need to be done, the laundry is piling up, or there is a screaming child who needs my attention. I fall asleep many nights before I can even think about praying!
Where did we get this wonderful devotion? St. Dominic is usually credited as officially introducing the rosary to the faithful, but there is evidence that suggest the rosary has been with us for nearly 1,500 years. Crude rosary beads were found from the Middle Ages called Paternosters, which means “Our Father” in Latin.
The rosary evolved significantly between the 12th and 15th Centuries and eventually became known as the Rosarium, Latin for “Rose Garden.” By then, the rosary resembled mostly what we know it to be today: an Apostles Creed, followed by five decades consisting of an Our Father, 10 Hail Marys, and a Glory Be, ending with the Salve Regina. In 2002, Pope John Paul II added the Luminous Mysteries to the existing Joyful Mysteries, Sorrowful Mysteries, Glorious Mysteries, to fill the large gap between the childhood of Christ and His Passion and death.
Mother Mary has revealed to several saints that each Hail Mary prayed is the equivalent of giving her a rose, with a rosary’s worth of the prayers offering her an entire crown of roses! What a beautiful image to think of while joyfully reciting this incredible, yet simple prayer.
Mother Mary passed along these 15 promises to St. Dominic and St. Alan with the words, “Whatever you ask in the Rosary will be granted”:
- Whoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall receive signal graces.
- I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
- The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell; it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.
- The Rosary will cause virtue and 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 for eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
- The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary, shall not perish.
- Whoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its sacred mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in His justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of eternal life.
- Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the sacraments of the Church.
- Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the light of God and the plenitude of His graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the merits of the saints in paradise.
- I shall deliver from Purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
- The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of glory in Heaven.
- You shall obtain all you ask of me by the recitation of the Rosary.
- All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
- I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire celestial court during their life and at the hour of death.
- All who recite the Rosary are my sons and daughters, and brothers and sisters of my only Son, Jesus Christ.
- Devotion to my Rosary is a great sign of predestination.
In addition to all the rosary can bring to our lives, it also can be a powerful tool for the conversion of others. My parents saw this happen to a Protestant couple, Seth and Tyra, who were friends of theirs during the 1990s. One day, some of the engineers who worked with Seth and my father asked Seth why there are so many Protestant denominations. His answer was, “It’s kind of like steak. Some like it well done. Others rare. Some prefer a potato on the side. Some don’t. But in the end, the basic substance is the same. It’s all steak.” The other engineers were satisfied with his answer–except my Dad. “That’s a nice story, Seth,” he said. “But I’ll eat my steak the way Christ serves it to me.”
This simple statement got Seth and Tyra thinking about their faith and they began to dig deeper. At first, they were hoping to save my family from the error of being Catholic, but after much research, study, and prayer, they both found themselves becoming Catholic, too! My family spent that time praying the rosary for their conversion of heart. They eventually converted and now support their beautiful family by running one of the largest rosary shops online. Their full conversion story and shop can be found here.
And finally, consider the special rewards offered to those whose own rosary practice draws others to the devotion through their example. Alphonsus, King of Leon and Galicia, wanted his servants to honor the Blessed Virgin by praying the rosary. So he used to hang a large rosary on his belt and always wore it, but unfortunately never prayed it himself. His wearing it nevertheless encouraged his courtiers to practice the devotion regularly.
One day, the King fell seriously ill. When he was given up for dead, he had a vision in which he found himself before the judgment seat of Our Lord. Many devils were there, accusing him of sins he had committed and Our Lord as Sovereign Judge was just about to condemn him to hell.
Just then, Our Lady appeared to intercede for him. She called for a pair of scales and had his sins placed in one of the balances. Then she put the rosary Alphonsus had always worn on the other scale, together with all the rosaries that had been prayed because of his example. The scales showed that the rosaries weighed more than his sins.
Looking at him with great kindness, Our Lady said, “As a reward for this little honor that you paid me in wearing my rosary, I have obtained a great grace for you from my Son. Your life will be spared for a few more years. See that you spend these years wisely, and do penance.”
When the King regained consciousness, he cried out: “Blessed be the rosary of the Most Holy Virgin Mary, by which I have been delivered from eternal damnation!” He recovered and spent the rest of his life spreading this devotion and prayed the rosary faithfully every day.
God has truly given us an abundance of ways to obtain grace and I for one could certainly use all the help I can get to get to heaven. Certainly, the 15 promises of Our Lady for praying the rosary will aid us in our eternal goal. Join me in making your goal for this year to enrich your life with more prayer, especially the daily rosary. Come, pray the rosary with me!
“Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.”
–Blessed Pope Pius IX