October is dedicated to the rosary. This is due in part to the commemoration of the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary on Oct. 7. This feast was instituted to commemorate the defeat of the Turks, stalling the Ottoman incursion into Europe, at the battle of Lepanto in 1571. The victory was credited to the praying of the rosary.
This October also marks the 100-year anniversary of the apparition of Our Lady of Fatima, which ended on Oct. 13 with the Miracle of the Sun. Approximately 40,000 people witnessed the sun dance in the sky as it appeared to come close to the surface of the earth.
The miracle helped to establish the truth of the apparition and the need to take seriously the message of Fatima. Simply stated, the message of Fatima is: prayer, repentance, reparation for sins, sacrifice, devotion to the Immaculate Heart and the daily praying for the rosary, particularly for the intention of peace.
In the year 1945, four Jesuit priests and their companions were taking the Fatima message to heart. They are among the few survivors of the Aug. 6 blast from the atomic bomb, named Little Boy, exploded over the city of Hiroshima, Japan. This bomb caused much destruction, yet the residence of Our Lady of the Assumption Church, within a mile of ground zero, was one of a few structures left standing. Those within suffered only minor injuries and never suffered radiation sickness.
The Jesuits credited their survival to Our Lady, stating, “We were living the message of Fatima and praying the rosary everyday.” They confessed that Mary had protected them, through her powerful intercession.
In our own day, there are powerful movements tearing at the fabric of society. These ideologies are, in an analogous way, also destructive to society and human life
Such movements manipulate language, distorting reality in an attempt not to just overthrow good society, but to destroy human nature itself. These movements have attacked life in the womb, gender, the purpose of human sexuality, marriage and the family, while spreading chaos by attacking those who stand for what is right and just. Such movements, with their ideologies, cause division, mistrust and hatred, threatening not only the peace and harmony of society, but also that of the church.
How is one to survive? Pray the rosary!
The rosary has been described as a small catechism, for the mysteries contain the life of Jesus and Mary, who is always, like the church, associated with the work of Jesus. The mysteries begin with the Incarnation and end with the Coronation of Mary. By meditating on the mysteries, we see Jesus with the eyes of Mary, coming to know and love her Son as she does. Such meditation allows our hearts and minds to focus on Jesus and to be open to the will of God as was Mary, so to respond: “Be it done to me according to thy word” (Lk. 1:38). The mysteries inspire repentance for sin and a desire for eternal life, while teaching us to make reparation and sacrifices after the example of our Lord.
Praying the rosary will lead to a stronger faith. Such a faith helps one to judge well the various forces that pull us from leading a life in accord with the will of God. The rosary will lead to an ardent hope, allowing one to persevere in the way of God while being persecuted, usually by mockery, by those “whose glory is in their shame; who mind earthly things” (Phil. 3:19). Meditation on the mysteries of the rosary will enflame the heart with a burning charity, allowing one not only to desire to be united with God, but, as a true friend of God, to seek his will be done on earth as it is in heaven (cf. Mt. 6:10).
During this month, let every Catholic take up again this most powerful spiritual weapon. Doing so will allow us to be firmly grounded, rather than being “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine by the wickedness of men, by cunning craftiness” (Eph. 4:14). Recall that the Jesuits credited their survival to following the message of Fatima and praying the rosary; surely, if we do the same, we will survive those movements which seek to destroy not just society and the church, but our very souls.
Father Jason Rocks is currently in Rome at the Pontifical North American College for Advanced Studies.