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."

Our Lady of Lourdes: The Seventeeth Apparition

Posted by Jacob

For thirteen days, since the sixteenth apparition of Our Lady of Lourdes on March 25, 1858, Saint Bernadette had not been graced by an appearance of Our Blessed Mother, the Immaculate Conception, at the Grotto in Lourdes. On April 7, however, Bernadette returned to the Grotto (followed by several hundred people), and was greeted in silence by the Blessed Virgin.

Throughout the first sixteen visitations, the Blessed Virgin had brought a message of prayer, penance, poverty, and participation to all people, through the most unlikely of messengers, Bernadette Soubirous. Through these posts, we continue our journey with Saint Bernadette as we encounter Our Blessed Mother through her eyes, memories, and words. The first fifteen visitations occurred in February and March 1858 (February 11, 14, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 25, 27, 28, and March 1, 2, 3, 4, and 25). Our Lady of Lourdes implored us all, saying, “Penance, Penance, Penance. Pray to God for sinners.”

Our Blessed Mother further invited Bernadette to drink and bathe in the muddy water of the grotto, after which a clear flowing spring came forth where none had existed before. Our Lady of Lourdes commanded, “Go drink in the spring and wash yourself there,” something that faithful pilgrims continue to do each day. (For personal reflections on my experience at Lourdes, see here, here, here, and here). During the sixteenth visitation, upon Bernadette’s repeated questioning, our Blessed Mother revealed her name. She said, “I am the Immaculate Conception.” Following this revelation, even the local authorities believed!

On April 7, Bernadette again was graced by a visit from our beautiful Blessed Mother. However, during this apparition, Our Lady of Lourdes did not speak. She smiled sweetly at Bernadette, her Rosary returned to hands as in previous visits, and together than prayed in silence. It was during this apparition that the miracle of the flame occurred. Bernadette, following her previous visits to the grotto, had been presented with a large blessed candle to take with her to Massabielle. On this occasion, Bernadette brought the large candle, lit, held in her hand. As she prayed, she fell into a deep ecstasy, and the candle burnt quickly down until the flame rested in Bernadette’s hand. With no wax remaining, and the wick consumed, the flame continued to burn in Bernadette’s cupped hands, neither going out nor harming her in any way. She was unable to be awakened from her ecstasy, and only after Our Blessed Mother departed did the flame extinguish itself. A local doctor, who was present and had witnessed the miracle, quickly examined her, finding no trace of injury or burnt flesh on her hands. For those present, and for us now, this miracle of light represents the light of the Risen Christ—the Resurrection and light of the world—radiating to us through the presence of Our Blessed Mother and the Saints!

Saint Bernadette would see Our Lady of Lourdes only once more, and she would not hear her voice again. But, through her faith, the message of Lourdes was revealed for all. She without sin reminds us to return to the word of God through poverty, penance, prayer, and participation. We embrace our poverty of spirit, not denying our gifts or talents, but acknowledging that they are precious gifts of our Lord and Savior. This leaves us open to the word of God, willing to answer His call, and advance His glory, not our own. We strengthen our hearts of prayer, finding praise and thanksgiving to the Lord in not only our quiet moments of contemplation, but in our moments of service and witness to others. We offer penance for our sin and for those of others, not just in sacrifice and acts of penance, but true conversion of heart and return to God. This penance involves remembering what the price of allowing sin into our lives is, what we lose from separation from our Lord. It also calls us to forgiveness, both of ourselves and of others. And lastly, we are moved to participation not just in pilgrimage, but as active members of our faith community, the Church. This pulls us from isolation or individual worship, and reminds us that we are members of the Church, and we share a communion with one another, with the saints who have gone before us, and with Our Blessed Mother.


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