Why pray the Rosary every day for a year?

Each time the Blessed Virgin has appeared-- whether it be to Saint Bernadette Soubirous at Lourdes; to Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco at Fatima; or to Mariette Beco at Banneux-- she has asserted the importance, saving grace, and power of praying the Holy Rosary on a daily basis. Based upon her words, the Rosary is penance and conversion for sinners, a pathway to peace, an end to war, and a powerful act of faith in Jesus Christ. Pope Paul VI presented the Rosary as a powerful means to reach Christ "not merely with Mary but indeed, insofar as this is possible to us, in the same way as Mary, who is certainly the one who thought about Him more than anyone else has ever done."

To show us how this is done, perhaps no one has been more eloquent than the great Cardinal Newman, who wrote: "The great power of the Rosary consists in the fact that it translates the Creed into Prayer. Of course, the Creed is already in a certain sense a prayer and a great act of homage towards God, but the Rosary brings us to meditate again on the great truth of His life and death, and brings this truth close to our hearts. Even Christians, although they know God, usually fear rather than love Him. The strength of the Rosary lies in the particular manner in which it considers these mysteries, since all our thinking about Christ is intertwined with the thought of His Mother, in the relations between Mother and Son; the Holy Family is presented to us, the home in which God lived His infinite love."

As Mary said at Fatima, "Jesus wants to use you to make Me known and loved. He wishes to establish the devotion to My Immaculate Heart throughout the world. I promise salvation to whoever embraces it; these souls will be dear to God, like flowers put by Me to adorn his throne."

Lourdes: Personal Reflections: Light

Posted by Jacob

A pilgrimage is a journey toward the Lord with a purpose. It is not a destination, but a process. It is not the visitation of a place, but a deep experience felt in the internal kingdom of God, the soul. It is not tourism, but purposeful exploration. Although, in my case, the purpose at the time was somewhat unclear. As I wrote before, I felt called to the grotto by the Blessed Mother, and I answered, somewhat unsure of what I would find. In many ways, the pilgrimage that started at Lourdes is still underway—a journey, with the ultimate destination being God, where all our journeys begin and end!

I have previously written about my general call to pilgrimage at Lourdes by the Blessed Mother, my experience with water at Lourdes—both bathing in the spring and drinking the water, as instructed by Our Blessed Mother, and my experience in the grotto of Lourdes itself—the rock of the Lourdes message. Here, I turn my attention to the Marian Processional, the prayer candles, the stained glass windows of Lourdes—the light present throughout the sanctuary.

Light is everywhere at Lourdes, even at night, even in cloudy, rainy, or snowy weather. The light of thousands of candles burn continuously, with specially employed “feutiers” managing the vast number of candles, the tonnage of dripping wax, and the safety of the pilgrims. Every night, all pilgrims present join in the candlelight Marian Processional to the central square of the sanctuary, as the Blessed Mother requested so many years ago. Even in the underground basilica, beautiful stained glass windows recounting the visitations of Mary to Saint Bernadette are back lit, light streaming through in the most unlikely of places.

But this light-- much like the gentle light that first glowed in the recess of the rock in the grotto, the light that Bernadette alone could see the most gracious Holy Mother in—this light is reflective of so much more than the physical aspects of the sanctuary, the tangible candles and construction of stained glass. This light is the reflection of Christ, our light of the world. Regardless of where in the sanctuary one goes, much like regardless of where we are in our daily lives, the light of Christ is always present—both within us and around us. We just need look for it and remember it is there!
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)

The candles of Lourdes remind us of that constant light of Christ, the light that shines forth at our baptism, the purifying light we receive through the grace of Reconcilation, the light of the Eucharist that guides us thorughout our lives. Much as Bernadette carried a lighted candle with her each time she visited the grotto, only to be greeted by a softer, gentler, radiant heavenly light surrounding the Blessed Mother, so, too, do we carry our light of Christ into the world in witness to His love to one another.

I had the privilege of participating in the Marian Processional twice while at Lourdes. The first night, as I have explained elsewhere, it was almost by accident. But when I found myself surrounded by pilgrims, each carrying their candles, each lifting their light to the world in unison while praying, it was impossible not to be swept away. Having gone to Lourdes alone, this was the moment when I felt completely surrounded, completely embraced, completely a member of the universal Catholic Church. On my left was a large contingent of Dutch pilgrims; In front of me, Italian and Croatian; To my right, a British family; and behind me, a Portuguese group. We each prayed in our own languages, but the prayer was shared, the experience and tears were shared, the emotion and praise was real. The light was real. In the midst of the darkness, the glowing lights of thousands of tiny flickering candles served to illuminate the night, much like the celebration of light at the Easter Vigil when one flame spreads throughout the church. Only in this case, on a much larger scale, one flame spread throughout the entire Church. The light of Christ illuminating the darkness!

The second night I was in Lourdes, I chose to watch the processional from the balcony of the Upper Basilica, rather than walk in it (see my video in the Video tab above, although it doesn’t do it justice!). Standing in darkness and watching the square fill with tiny, flickering lights, until the entire plaza is lit is an unforgettable experience! It reminds us that we are connected. We are many parts, but only body. We are the Body of Christ, alive in His Church. And our mission is to light the way for others.

Above the thousands of prayer candles lit each day is one phrase, written in many languages. “This flame continues my prayer.” We have confidence that Our Blessed Mother prays, intercedes, and advocates for us constantly with Our Father in heaven. And these flames give momentary tangible measure to that confidence. To see the number of candles lit makes one aware of the power of our prayers, and the power of the prayers of those blessed Saints in communion with us.

On a deeper level, I experienced light in the form of the sacraments—first in Reconciliation, and later in the Eucharist. Having been washed clean in the spring, participated in a lengthy (and much needed!) Reconciliation, spent time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and contemplative time in the grotto, the Eucharist was the penultimate experience of Lourdes, just as it is in our lives. As I received the Eucharist, I became acutely aware that the center of my pilgrimage was Christ. While the Blessed Mother had called me to Lourdes, she had done so on behalf of her Son. She had done so that I might have closer communion with both she and he Son. She had done so that we might worship Him together. For while the gifts that Our Lady of Lourdes presented to the world in the form of her apparitions were more beautiful then we can imagine, they pale in comparison to the perfect gift available to us throughout our lives—the gift of Light contained in the Holy Eucharist.

Salve, Regina, Mater misericordiae,
Vita, dulcedo, et spes nostra, salve.
Ad te clamamus, exsules filii Hevae,
Ad te suspiramus, gementes et flentes
In hac lacrimarum valle.
Eia, ergo, advocata nostra,
Illos tuos misericordes oculos
Ad nos converte.
Et Jesum, benedictum fructum ventris tui,
Nobis post hoc exsilium ostende.
O clemens, O pia, O dulcis Virgo Maria.
Hail, holy Queen, Mother of Mercy,
Our life, our sweetness and our hope.
To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve.
To thee do we send up our sighs,
mourning and weeping in this valley of tears.
Turn then, most gracious advocate,
Thine eyes of mercy toward us;
And after this, our exile,
Show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.Pray for us O holy Mother of God,
that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.


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