Sunday, October 13, 2013
The Most Powerful Prayer
The rosary has been called the most powerful of prayers. In her appearance on May 13th, 1917 at Fatima, Mary herself said that a daily praying of the rosary could bring an end to war. In this month of October, it is an especially good time to review this unmatched prayer experience, since it is also the Month of the Holy Rosary in the Catholic Church.
On October 7th, 1571, the historic Battle of Lepanto took place. In this battle, a vastly outnumbered Christian fleet led by Don John of Austria faced off against and defeated the mighty Ottoman Muslim fleet led by Ali Pasha to halt the Islamist westward expansion in the Mediterranean.
At the time, Christian Europe was being torn apart by internal strife and the Reformation from the inside, and was being threatened by the relentless expansionism of the Muslims from the outside.
The victory in this pivotal naval battle against superior forces was attributed to the fact that on the day of the battle, many rosaries were offered and processions made in Rome to the Blessed Mother for her intercession on behalf of the united Christians. The victory was thus attributed to her, and those rosaries.
In honor of this victory, Pope Pius V instituted the 'Feast of Our Lady of Victory', and following another victory over Muslim forces in 1716, Pope Clement XI extended the Feast to the entire Church, making it the 'Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary'. In 1883, Pope Leo XIII released the first in a series of encyclicals on the rosary, urging Catholics to increase their devotion to Mary, especially through the rosary, and dedicated the entire month of October to the prayer.
So what exactly is the rosary, how does one say the prayer, and why is it considered so powerful?
The word "rosary" comes from the Latin meaning "garland of roses", with the rose traditionally being one of the flowers that symbolizes Mary in the Church. The rosary is a devotion in her honor, one in which we are petitioning her to intervene on our behalf, and on behalf of our prayerful intentions, with the Lord.
To facilitate the saying of the rosary, a petitioner utilizes "rosary beads", a series of beads linked together along with a medal representing Mary and with a small crucifix at the end of the chain. Each bead, the medal, the crucifix, and even some of the chain links are used as placeholders at which a specific prayer is said.
The main prayer said is the "Hail Mary", which is actually recited 10 times each over a series of 5 'decades', meaning that one who completes the prayer will say the "Hail Mary" some 50 times. One of the beads marks each saying of the prayer. A person who undertakes praying the rosary will also say "The Lord's Prayer" ("Our Father"), the "Apostle's Creed", the "Glory Be", and may insert certain other prayers along the route around the full chain. Also, a brief reflection on different mysteries of the faith is done at a handful of points.
Doing so much praying at one time may seem daunting to individuals who are not used to the process. But the fact is that saying a complete rosary takes no more than about 20 minutes for an experienced person. A great idea when first starting out is to try saying the rosary along with others more experienced, but this is not in any way necessary. It's 2013, there is indeed "an app for that" if you search on your digital device, and there are many online resources to help guide you.
Rosary beads themselves come in all shapes, colors, and styles. You can find your favorite color if you search around, and can find a theme that fits your lifestyle. Years ago, I was given an Irish rosary as a gift, complete with green-colored beads, and I use this rosary to pray from time to time. I know that I don't pray it enough, and saying the rosary more is something that I have begun to incorporate into my personal faith experience.
During a number of her apparitions over the years since it's institution by the Church, Mary herself has passed along the confirmation of the power of saying the rosary. Among it's benefits, she promises powerful graces and her special protection. She promises it will be an armor against hell itself, and that it will destroy vice, reduce sin, and defeat heresy. Among the many other benefits, Mary has promised to deliver from purgatory anyone who regularly says the rosary during their lifetimes.
In April of 2003, Father Gabriel Amorth, the Vatican's chief exorcist, said that during a particular exorcism, the devil himself had said that "If Christians knew how powerful the rosary was, it would be my end." All one needs to do is undertake a reasonable Google search, and you will come across hundreds of stories where the saying of the rosary is credited with direct aid and intervention in the most hazardous, dangerous, deadly, and hopeless of situations that humans have encountered.
If you've never considered it before, look more closely at the rosary. Stop by a religious store, or go online, and pick out and purchase one for yourself. Purchase or research and print out a short guide to saying the rosary. And then undertake actually saying it a couple of times over a few days. See what all the fuss is about first-hand. I promise you that you will never feel the same, and you will see a positive change in your life and situation.