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."

Marian Mondays: Blessed

Posted by Jacob

Marian Mondays is a weekly post focusing on Our Blessed Mother, Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth. In this post, we explore her life, her special mission, her sanctity, and the Biblical bases for the beliefs of the Church.

We pray with Mary. We experience her practically, emotionally, and rationally. We feel confident in the truth of her existence. We realize that she is unique, chosen for a special purpose by the Lord. We recognize the importance of her name. We have preliminarily explored her Christian virtues of faith, hope, and charity. But why do we Catholics insist on calling her Blessed? Was Mary, the Mother of God, blessed?

It seems a somewhat ridiculous question to those of us raised in the Catholic faith tradition. We rarely even mention Mary without referring to her as blessed. But what does that actually mean? Let’s take a quick look.

Reference to the Virgin Mary as being blessed can be found throughout the Holy Scriptures, at the important moments of her life—moments we meditate on joyfully while we pray the Holy Rosary. We first hear Mary called blessed during the Annunciation, the visitation from the Archangel Gabriel in which Mary submits graciously to the will of the Lord.

And the angel being come in, said unto her: Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. (Luke 1:28)

Subsequently, Mary leaves home and travels to visit Elizabeth, also pregnant, and full of the Holy Spirit. Elizabeth recognizes the sanctity and obedience of Mary, and the Son of God she carries. When Mary is still at a distance, she runs to her and pronounces her blessed.

And she cried out with a loud voice, and said: Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. (Luke 1:42)

It is during her three month visit with Elizabeth that Mary sings the Magnificat, proclaiming herself both unworthy in the eyes of the Lord, and also blessed in the eyes of the Lord:

46And Mary said:
"My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers." (Luke 1: 46-55)

Mary, full of love and the Holy Spirit, graciously proclaims, "Henceforth all generations shall call me blessed." She does so with grace and humility, lowering herself before the Lord, and exalting His great works. In this moment, she asserts, perhaps without conscious knowledge, the fact that she has been chosen by the Lord, that she alone would bring forth the Savior of the World, that she has been witness to the overwhelming love of God. This blessing she received is so wonderful, so awe-inspiring, that future generations will be rendered speechless.

Some scholars expand upon this, offering a second interpretation, which builds upon the first. That is, this reference to calling Mary "blessed" moves beyond the Incarnation of God and the motherhood of Jesus—tremendous blessings we cannot even begin to fathom—and taken quite literally can mean that the Blessed Mother would continue to interact and appear with the faithful for generations. History suggests this to be true, with the apparitions and miraculous intercessions of Mary around the world—at Lourdes, Banneux, Fatima, Beuraing, Pontmain, New Orleans, and many others!

But what does Blessed mean? Jesus, during the Sermon on the Mount, provides us with a definition—blessed are those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted because of righteousness and faith in Christ. Later, as recounted by Luke, Jesus declares that those who hear and keep God’s Word are blessed.

Jesus defines blessed for us. In applying it to the life of Mary, we see that she lives these commandments, she embodies these qualities, she suffers for her God. Our Mother’s faith in the Lord, her hope in the resurrection, her love for Jesus, and her following of the Word of God rightfully bestows upon her the title of Blessed. Jesus defines it. Her obedience to the Word of God verifies it. Her life confirms it.


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