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."

May 20: Saint Bernadine of Siena

Posted by Jacob

Today, May 20, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Bernadine of Siena (1380-1444), referred to as the “Apostle of Italy,” “the Star of Tuscany,” and “the Second Paul.” Saint Bernadine is one of the most renowned Franciscan preachers and reformers, a prolific writer who graced the Church with countless sermons and writings, and is largely responsible for increasing the popular devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus. Saint Bernadine is also remembered for his ardent devotion to Our Blessed Mother, and to the Holy Family.
Saint Bernadine was the greatest preacher of his time, journeying across Italy, bringing peace to areas ridden with strife, attacking the paganism he found rampant. When he preached, he would attract large crowds of nearly 30,000 listeners, converting many on the spot. Above all, he followed St. Francis’s admonition to preach about “vice and virtue, punishment and glory.” Saint Antoninus described him as "a new star in the midst of the murky darkness of the earth; to shine with the brightness of Divine gifts; to beam far and wide the bright rays of his glorious life and teachings; to lead in the fear of God, by the holiness of his example, a people whose blindness had removed it from the straight path of the heavenly Homeland."

Born on the Feast of the Nativity of Mary in Siena, Italy, Bernadine entered the world in nobility, the son of a governor. At age six, he lost both his parents, and thus orphaned, was raised by a pious aunt who attended to both his physical and spiritual needs. Bernadine excelled at school, demonstrating both intelligence and diligence, holiness and piety, and was well-liked and popular. At age 17, he entered a Marian confraternity at the La Scala hospital, beginning a secluded religious life devoted to prayer and meditation. At that time, the plague raged throughout Europe, and Bernadine left seclusion to aid the sick, placing himself at great risk, and assuming administration of the hospital. While he never contracted the plague, he fell ill from exhaustion, and was confined to bed for several months. While he never fully recovered, his voice—hoarse and weak from his sickness- was fully restored through his devotion to Our blessed Mother, allowing him to develop profound preaching skills. Following his own sickness, his aunt fell ill, and he nursed her until her death, never leaving her side. Upon her death, Saint Bernadine turned to fasting and prayer, spending his days seeking the will of the Lord in his life.

One day while he was kneeling at the foot of his crucifix, praying for guidance, Bernadine heard the voice of Jesus say to him: "My son Bernardine, you see Me hanging on the Cross, in a state of total denudation. If you love Me and want to walk in My footsteps, fasten yourself also to the cross, divested of everything." Following this divine message, Bernadine joined the Franciscan Order, distinguishing himself through obedience, which he considered the virtue of highest import.

Bernadine was assigned to preaching, having a natural gift given by the Holy Spirit. Over the next decade of his life, he traveled throughout Italy, preaching in major cities, a natural successor to Saint Vincent Ferrer. The Adorable Name of Jesus was the usual theme of his sermons, stemming from his aunt’s instruction as a child. Wherever he traveled, he carried a tablet on which the Holy Name of Jesus (IHS) was written, adopting it as his standard and his “sole weapon.” He firmly held only in this Name could man be saved, as Saint Peter had instructed the elders in the Synagogue.

Saint Bernadine wrote, regarding the Adorable Name of Jesus: “The Name of Jesus is the refuge of the penitent sinner, a refuge full of meekness in which majesty effaces itself, tenderness becomes sweeter, Divine mercy appears in Its grandeur. The Name of God is awesome; in it is found the ardor of the flame which consumes, the wrath which chastises, the weight which crushes; but all these things have been tempered in the wellspring of mercy by Jesus Christ Who was smitten with love for us in the womb of the Virgin Mary. There, that ardor has lost its violence, that wrath has become forbearance, that overwhelming weight has become light . . . "O my God," exclaims the Prophet, "say to my soul: I am thy salvation." [Psalm 34: 3] May Thy Name be heard by my ears; Thy voice is full of sweetness and Thy face full of beauty.” (For more, click here)

One of Bernadine’s listeners in Siena was to become Pope Pius II. In his notes, the pope tells of one of Bernardine's addresses: "One day, as he was preaching in the square in Siena, a thick cloud formed and threatened rain. Everyone wanted to run off. 'Friends, remain in peace,' exclaimed the orator. He knelt down and prayed, ordering the cloud, by virtue of the Name of Jesus, to go away. Scarcely had he spoken when the cloud scattered without a drop of rain, and the weather turned as fair as it had been before."

St. Bernardine was a preacher of inspired eloquence. He has been called the Doctor of the Heart of Mary due to his writings on Mary's heart. He wrote, "from her heart, as from a furnace of Divine Love, the Blessed Virgin spoke the words of the most ardent love.” He was also a distinguished master in the science of all things sacred, as is proved by the writings he has left us. One such writing regards the apparition of Jesus to His Blessed Mother after the Resurrection:

“From the fact of there being no mention made in the Gospel of the visit wherewith Christ consoled His Mother after His Resurrection, we are not to conclude that this most merciful Jesus, the source of all grace and consolation, Who was so anxious to gladden His disciples by His presence, forgot His Mother, Who He knew had drunk so deeply of the bitterness of His Passion. But it has pleased Divine Providence that the Gospel should be silent on this subject; and this for three reasons.” (For more, click here)

Saint Bernadine’s watchword, like Saint Francis, was peace. He preached peace wherever he went, balancing the social climate of the day with the teachings of the Church. Mass reconciliations were reported as he celebrated Mass, given his encouragement of the kiss of peace between attendees.

Numerous miraculous occurrences were reported in his presence. One day, preaching in praise of the Blessed Virgin, he applied to Her the verse of the Apocalypse: “A great sign appeared in heaven, a Woman clothed with the sun...” At once a brilliant star appeared over his head. On other occasions, Bernadine was understood by all present when he spoke in Italian—even by those who didn’t speak Italian! He obtained miraculous conversions and reformed the greater part of Italy by his burning words and by the power of the Holy Name of Jesus.

Saint Bernardine was appointed Vicar General of his Order in 1438, an office he held for five years. After five years, he began preaching again until, worn out from his missionary labors, he died on the Eve of the Ascension. At his death, his brothers surrounded him, chanting, “Father, I have manifested Thy Name to men.” Saint Bernadine was buried at Aquila in the Abruzzi. The miracles reported at his tomb encouraged Pope Nicholas V to canonize him only six years later.

Saint Bernadine was a tireless servant of the Lord, spending his days preaching, doing charitable works, and in contemplative prayer. His devotion to the Name of Jesus, as he described in the sermon below, is a reminder to us of the peace and salvation offered to all who call upon His name!

“The name of Jesus is the glory of preachers, because the shining splendor of that name causes his word to be proclaimed and heard.And how do you think such an immense, sudden and dazzling light of faith came into the world, if not because Jesus was preached? Was it not through the brilliance and sweet savor of this name that God called us into his marvelous light? When we have been enlightened, and in that same light behold the light of heaven, rightly may the apostle Paul say to us: Once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord; walk as children of light.

So this name must be proclaimed, that it may shine out and never be suppressed. But it must not be preached by someone with sullied mind or unclean lips, but stored up and poured out from a chosen vessel. That is why our Lord said of Saint Paul: He is a chosen instrument of mine, the vessel of my choice, to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel. In this chosen vessel there was to be a drink more pleasing than earth ever knew, offered to all mankind for a price they could pay, so that they would be drawn to taste of it. Poured into other chosen vessels, it would grow and radiate splendor. For our Lord said: He is to Carry my name.

When a fire is lit to clear a field, it burns off all the dry and useless weeds and thorns. When the sun rises and darkness is dispelled, robbers, night-prowlers and burglars hide away. So when Paul’s voice was raised to preach the Gospel to the nations, like a great clap of thunder in the sky, his preaching was a blazing fire carrying all before it. It was the sun rising in full glory. Infidelity was consumed by it, false beliefs fled away, and the truth appeared like a great candle lighting the whole world with its brilliant flame.

By word of mouth, by letters, by miracles, and by the example of his own life, Saint Paul bore the name of Jesus wherever he went. He praised the name of Jesus “at all times,” but never more than when “bearing witness to his faith.”

Moreover, the Apostle did indeed carry this name “before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel” as a light to enlighten all nations. And this was his cry wherever he journeyed: “The night is passing away, the day is at hand. Let us then cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves honorably as in the day.” Paul himself showed forth the burning and shining-light set upon a candlestick, everywhere proclaiming “Jesus, and him crucified.”

And so the Church, the bride of Christ strengthened by his testimony, rejoices with the psalmist, singing: “O God from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.” The psalmist exhorts her to do this, as he says: “Sing to the Lord, and bless his name, proclaim his salvation day after day.” And this salvation is Jesus, her savior.

Loving Lord, Saint Bernardine preached about Your mercy during a time when the Church was embattled by divisions. His preaching skills were so great and caused so many conversions, I ask him to intercede for speakers, advertisers, public relations and communications personnel, writers, publishers, and all in my church who employ the tools of persuasion. Jesus, You are the Word of God; teach us to use words to advance Your kingdom of love rather than to tear people down or to build fear. Help us to be Your voice of mercy, reconciling enemies and healing the wounded. Saint Bernardine, pray for us.

Father, you gave St. Bernadine a special love for the holy name of Jesus. By the help of his prayers, may we always be alive with the spirit of your love. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Inspired by the origins and spiritual history of the Holy Rosary, we continue our meditation on the psalms, one each day, in order, for 150 days.

Today’s Psalm: Psalm 26: Prayer of an Innocent Man

1 Vindicate me, O LORD,
for I have led a blameless life;
I have trusted in the LORD
without wavering.
2 Test me, O LORD, and try me,
examine my heart and my mind;
3 for your love is ever before me,
and I walk continually in your truth.
4 I do not sit with deceitful men,
nor do I consort with hypocrites;
5 I abhor the assembly of evildoers
and refuse to sit with the wicked.
6 I wash my hands in innocence,
and go about your altar, O LORD,
7 proclaiming aloud your praise
and telling of all your wonderful deeds.
8 I love the house where you live, O LORD,
the place where your glory dwells.
9 Do not take away my soul along with sinners,
my life with bloodthirsty men,
10 in whose hands are wicked schemes,
whose right hands are full of bribes.
11 But I lead a blameless life;
redeem me and be merciful to me.
12 My feet stand on level ground;
in the great assembly I will praise the LORD.

Day 140 of 365
Prayer Intentions: For all those who preach the message of God; For an increase in personal devotion.
Requested Intentions: The repose of a lonely soul (L); Health for an ailing nephew (A); Those suffering from depression (J); For blessings on a brother’s birthday (J); Successful conception of a child (D); Successful adoption (S); Healing of a father battling cancer (S); For the guidance of Our Blessed Mother (A); Recovery from a stroke (R); Personal intentions (S); Recovery of a sick brother-in-law (K); Favor from the Lord in restoration of a life (K); End to Schizophrenia (A); For financial recovery and successful marriage (A).
Psalm: Psalm 26: Prayer of an Innocent Man


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