On October 13th, Archbishop Aquila will consecrate of the Archdiocese of Denver to Our Lady of Fatima, at the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. The day marks the 100th anniversary of Our Lady’s final apparition at Fatima, the day of the great Miracle of the Sun. Central to Our Lady of Fatima’s message was praying the rosary in reparation for sin and for conversion. On the day of the final apparition, Mary told the three visionary children: “I am the Lady of the Rosary. Continue always to pray the Rosary every day.”
Answering Our Lady’s request to pray the rosary daily is a great way to prepare for the Archdiocesan consecration. Praying the rosary invites us to enter a conversation with Mary, praising her and asking for her help as we pray the Hail Mary, and also with the Holy Trinity, as we pray the Our Father and Glory Be. In this conversation, we meditate on the central mysteries of our salvation and unite our lives to them, allowing them to shape our thoughts and desires. Praying the rosary also means entering into a spiritual battle by taking on an apostolate of prayer. We pray not only to grow closer to Jesus and Mary, but also for the good of those we love, our country, and the Church.
As we enter into this prayer apostolate, we can be aided by Fr. Donald Calloway, MIC’s “Champions of the Rosary: The History and Heroes of a Spiritual Weapon” (Marian Press, 2016). The Dominican Archbishop Augustine DiNoia described it as “probably the most comprehensive book ever written on the rosary.” The book has three major parts. First, it presents a detailed history of the rosary from the 13th century to present. The second part lays out 26 holy figures who were champions of the rosary. The third provides a short overview of how to pray the rosary.
Fr. Calloway describes the ancient origins of the rosary in the practice of reciting the Our Father or Hail Mary 150 times as a way to imitate the monks’ recitation of the 150 psalms each day. St. Dominic, in the thirteenth century, formulated the rosary as we know it, with decades focused on the mysteries of our salvation. St. Dominic used the rosary in his preaching against heresy in southern France. Though it took a little while to catch on, the rosary gained popularity through confraternities of laypeople gathered to recite the rosary in their city.
The rosary has shaped the lives of Catholics in many ways. It brought about a number of crucial victories for Christendom over the Turks, beginning with the naval Battle of Lepanto in 1571, when Catholic forces miraculously destroyed the Turkish fleet. The rosary received many significant Papal endorsements, which attached indulgences to it and the confraternities dedicated to it. In the last few hundred years Our Lady herself has spread devotion to the rosary, with apparitions recognized by the Church in countries such as Colombia, Vietnam, Belgium, Japan, Nicaragua, and Rwanda. Almost as surprising, Fr. Calloway describes Elvis Presley’s 1971 song, “The Miracle of the Rosary.”
The book also details champions the rosary, such as Bl. Alan de la Roche, a 15th century Dominican who popularized it, St. Louis de Montfort, St. Anthony Mary Claret, Pope Leo XIII, who wrote 11 encyclicals promoting the rosary, Fr. Patrick Peyton, who promoted the family rosary, and St. John Paul II, who gave us five new luminous mysteries. These figures should serve as a model for us and Fr. Calloway concludes by teaching us how we can become a champion of the rosary: 1) pray the rosary, 2) encourage others to pray it, and 3) join a rosary group. One group to consider for our area is the Confraternity of the Rosary, organized by the Central Province of the Dominicans: http://opcentral.org/confraternity-of-the-holy-rosary/.
There are some other recent books on the rosary you may find helpful as well. Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Praying the Rosary for Spiritual Warfare (OSV, 2016); Dan Burke and Connie Rossini, The Contemplative Rosary – with St. John Paul II and St. Teresa of Avila (Sophia, 2017); Johnnette Benkovic and Thomas Sullivan, The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare (Servant, 2017); Gretchen Crowe, Why the Rosary, Why Now? (OSV, 2017).