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."

June 22: Saints Thomas More and John Fisher, Martyrs of England

Posted by Jacob

Today, June 22, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Thomas More (1478-1535) and Saint John Fisher (1469-1535), English martyrs for the faith. Both men, despite certain punishment, vocally opposed the claims of King Henry VIII as head of the Church of England. For their steadfast proclamation of the truth, they were imprisoned, tried, and martyred.

Saint Thomas More was born in London, the son of a judge. At a young age, Thomas was placed in the home of Cardinal Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury, who, noting the boy’s cheerful disposition and scholastic aptitude, arranged for him to attend Oxford. A serious student, and with few financial means, Thomas applied himself and avoided "vain or hurtful amusements" to the detriment of his studies. He quickly demonstrated considerable academic skills, mastering both Greek and Latin, becoming expert in French, mathematics, and history, and learning to play both the flute and viola. His gifts quickly attracted attention, and he was admitted to law school, becoming a barrister several years later.

His friend and pupil, Erasmus, described him in a letter: “He seems born and framed for friendship, and is a most faithful and enduring friend. He is easy of access to all; but if he chances to get familiar with one whose vices admit no correction, he manages to loosen and let go the intimacy rather than to break it off suddenly. When he finds any sincere and according to his heart, he so delights in their society and conversation as to place in it the principal charm of life… Though he is rather too negligent of his own interests, no one is more diligent in those of his friends. In a word, if you want a perfect model of friendship, you will find it in no one better than in More. In society he is so polite, so sweet-mannered, that no one is of so melancholy a disposition as not to be cheered by him, and there is no misfortune that he does not alleviate. Since his boyhood he has so delighted in merriment, that it seems to be part of his nature; yet he does not carry it to buffoonery, nor did he ever like biting pleasantries.”

It quickly became clear that Thomas excelled at law, but it was not where his primary interests lay. He was deeply drawn to the idea of the religious life, spending considerable time in prayer and contemplation, delivering lectures on the writings of Saint Augustine, and engaging in penance and mortification similar to those enacted by local monks. For example, Thomas wore a hair shirt each day and fasted. He eventually moved into the monastery, but could not ignore the injustices of English society, and eventually left to enter into a career in politics. He was married shortly thereafter.

Erasmus wrote: “Meanwhile he applied his whole mind to exercises of piety, looking to and pondering on the priesthood in vigils, fasts and prayers and similar austerities. In which matter he proved himself far more prudent than most candidates who thrust themselves rashly into that arduous profession without any previous trial of their powers. The one thing that prevented him from giving himself to that kind of life was that he could not shake off the desire of the married state. He chose, therefore, to be a chaste husband rather than an impure priest.”

Thomas entered Parliament, and tirelessly defended the rights of the poor, much to the annoyance of King Henry VII. In revenge, the King imprisoned Saint Thomas’ father and would not release him until Thomas agreed to withdraw from public life. After the death of the King in 1509, Thomas became active once more. In 1510, he was appointed one of the two undersheriffs of London. In this capacity, he gained a reputation for being impartial, and a patron to the poor.

More’s political career became increasingly at odds with King Henry VIII, who, himself was looking to break from the Catholic Church so that he might remarry. Despite his opposition to the plans of the king to divorce, he was elected Lord Chancellor.

While his work in the law courts was exemplary, following his vocal disapproval of the king’s plans, his career quickly came to a halt. He resigned in 1532, citing ill health. After failing to attend the coronation of the king’s new wife, Anne Boleyn, he was one of the people accused of complicity with Elizabeth Barton, the nun of Kent who opposed Henry's break with Rome. Subsequently, Thomas refused to acknowledge the king as the head of the Church of England, defending the papacy. He was committed to the Tower of London, tried in a one-sided trial, and found guilty of treason.

Upon sentencing—death by beheading—the constable of the Tower of London visited More, respecting him, and seeking his forgiveness. More spoke to him, saying, “Good Master Kingston, trouble not yourself but be of good cheer; for I will pray for you, and my good Lady your wife, that we may meet in heaven together, where we shall be merry forever and ever." His last words, prior to the axe falling were: "I die - the King's good servant but God's first."

Saint Thomas’ body was buried the Church of Saint Peter. His parboiled head was placed on display on the Tower Bridge for one month prior to the local faithful rescuing it. During his lifetime, Saint Thomas wrote extensively—poems, fiction, scholarly works, legal reviews, translations, contemplations of scripture, and prayers. Below is one such prayer:

Give me the grace, Good Lord
To set the world at naught. To set my mind firmly on You and not to hang upon the words of men’s mouths.
To be content to be solitary. Not to long for worldly pleasures. Little by little utterly to cast off the world and rid my mind of all its business.
Not to long to hear of earthly things, but that the hearing of worldly fancies may be displeasing to me.
Gladly to be thinking of God, piteously to call for His help. To lean into the comfort of God. Busily to labor to love Him.
To know my own vileness and wretchedness. To humble myself under the mighty hand of God. To bewail my sins and, for the purging of them, patiently to suffer adversity.
Gladly to bear my purgatory here. To be joyful in tribulations. To walk the narrow way that leads to life.
To have the last thing in remembrance. To have ever before my eyes my death that is ever at hand. To make death no stranger to me. To foresee and consider the everlasting fire of Hell. To pray for pardon before the judge comes.
To have continually in mind the passion that Christ suffered for me. For His benefits unceasingly to give Him thanks.
To buy the time again that I have lost. To abstain from vain conversations. To shun foolish mirth and gladness. To cut off unnecessary recreations.
Of worldly substance, friends, liberty, life and all, to set the loss at naught, for the winning of Christ.
To think my worst enemies my best friends, for the brethren of Joseph could never have done him so much good with their love and favor as they did him with their malice and hatred.
These minds are more to be desired of every man than all the treasures of all the princes and kings, Christian and heathen, were it gathered and laid together all in one heap.

Saint John Fisher was born in Beverly, Yorkshire. He studied theology at Cambridge University, receiving several degrees, and eventually decided to enter seminary. Upon ordination as a priest, he was assigned to Northallerton, England, where he established a reputation as an extraordinary preacher and scholar. Appointed proctor of Cambridge University, he created scholarships, introduced Greek and Hebrew into the curriculum, and brought in the world-famous Erasmus as professor of Divinity and Greek. It was likely Saint John who introduced Erasmus to Saint Thomas More, beginning their lifelong friendship. In 1504, Saint John became was elected Bishop of Rochester and Chancellor of Cambridge, in which capacity he also tutored Prince Henry who was to become Henry VIII.

Much like Saint Thomas, however, Saint John’s commitment to the Church, including the sanctity of marriage and the legitimacy of the Pope, that was his undoing in English society. When Henry VIII decided to divorce, he asked Saint John to look into the matter. John, well respected as a theologian and a scholar, was quite vocal in his opposition to the divorce, and even more so regarding Henry’s claims as the Head of the Church of England. Like Saint Thomas, John refused to pledge an oath of allegiance to the King, recognizing the Anglican church, and as such, was arrested and confined to the Tower of London for 14 months without trial. During that time, many former colleagues-- bishops, who had pledged allegiance to the king—were sent to visit John, hoping to convince him to submit. His response, in letter format, follows:

“Methinks it had been rather our parts to stick together in repressing these violent and unlawful intrusions and injuries daily offered to our common mother, the holy Church of Christ, than by any manner of persuasions to help or set forward the same.

And we ought rather to seek by all means the temporal destruction of the so ravenous wolves, that daily go about worrying and devouring everlastingly, the flock that Christ committed to our charge, and the flock that Himself died for, than to suffer them thus to range abroad.

But (alas) seeing we do it not, you see in what peril the Christian state now standeth: We are besieged on all sides, and can hardly escape the danger of our enemy. And seeing that judgment is begone at the house of God, what hope is there left (if we fall) that the rest shall stand!

The fort is betrayed even of them that should have defended it. And therefore seeing the matter is thus begun, and so faintly resisted on our parts, I fear that we be not the men that shall see the end of the misery.

Wherefore, seeing I am an old man and look not long to live, I mind not by the help of God to trouble my conscience in pleasing the king this way whatsoever become of me, but rather here to spend out the remnant of my old days in praying to God for him.”

As the fourteen months went on, John became frail, ill, and emaciated due to the harsh treatment he received. Also, during this time, he was appointed Cardinal by the Pope. The following day, he was condemned to death by torture, but this sentence was modified to beheading as the jailors feared that the 66-year-old Cardinal was ill and too weak to endure any length of torture.

One hour before his execution, the Tower guard found Fisher standing and dressed, awaiting his fate. The holy Prelate took the New Testament and read aloud the from the Gospel of John: “Now this is eternal life: That they may know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent. I have glorified Thee on earth; I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do. And now glorify Thou me, O Father, with Thyself, with the glory which, before the world was, was with Thee” (John 17:3-5). He closed the Bible and said, "There is enough learning in that to last me the rest of my life." And with that, he was led to the scaffold.

Weak and emaciated, Saint John Fisher found the strength to address the crowd gathered before the scaffold. He is said to have proclaimed in a loud voice:

"Christian people, I am come hither to die for the faith of Christ's Holy Catholic Church, and I thank God hitherto my stomach hath served me very well thereunto, so that yet I have not feared death.

Wherefore I do desire you all to help and assist me with your prayers, that at the very point and instant of death's stroke, I may in that very moment stand steadfast without fainting in any one point of the Catholic faith free from any fear; and I beseech Almighty God of His infinite goodness to save the king and this Realm, and that it may please Him to hold His holy hand over it, and send the king good Counsel."

With those words, having been offered a stay of execution multiple times should he relent his position, Saint John Fisher was beheaded. His head was placed on display on the Tower Bridge, but after two weeks during which time no decomposition was noted, the head was tossed into the Thames to deter those who had begun speaking of miracles. The spot his head had been placed was quickly filled with that of Saint Thomas Moore, martyred just nine days later. Saint John’s relics remain in the Church of Saint Peter at the Tower of London.

The lives of Saint Thomas More and Saint John Fisher are significant for not only their sacrifice, but their steadfast opposition to heresy and upholding of the Catholic faith. Both men—learned and scholarly—recognized not only the historical truth of the Church, but also the logical and theological bases for our beliefs. From a place of conviction, these holy men were able to walk confidently to their glorious martyrs’ deaths, certain of their place in Heaven. We might, by their example, undertake to learn more of the history of our faith, more of the Church’s teachings, and the reasons for the Dogma that many are quick to malign. Without a solid base of knowledge, Saints Thomas and John would not have had the conviction of their beliefs, and would not have had the courage to speak out against the most powerful ruler of their time. Without that same solid base of knowledge, how can we defend our faith, and in the process, spread the good news of Christ?

you confirm the true faith
with the crown of martyrdom.
May the prayers of Saints John Fisher and Thomas More
give us the courage to proclaim our faith
by the witness of our lives.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever 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 58: Against Unjust Judges

1 Do you rulers indeed speak justly?
Do you judge uprightly among men?
2 No, in your heart you devise injustice,
and your hands mete out violence on the earth.
3 Even from birth the wicked go astray;
from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.
4 Their venom is like the venom of a snake,
like that of a cobra that has stopped its ears,
5 that will not heed the tune of the charmer,
however skillful the enchanter may be.
6 Break the teeth in their mouths, O God;
tear out, O LORD, the fangs of the lions!
7 Let them vanish like water that flows away;
when they draw the bow, let their arrows be blunted.
8 Like a slug melting away as it moves along,
like a stillborn child, may they not see the sun.
9 Before your pots can feel the heat of the thorns—
whether they be green or dry—the wicked will be swept away.
10 The righteous will be glad when they are avenged,
when they bathe their feet in the blood of the wicked.
11 Then men will say,
"Surely the righteous still are rewarded;
surely there is a God who judges the earth."

Day 173 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Knowledge and conviction of our faith; For those wrongly imprisoned. For all those who are wrongly put to death.
Requested Intentions: For all lost children (I); Prosperity, health, healing, and conversion for a family (M); Health and healing of a mother (A); Healing of heart and mind (T); Healing of a new relationship before marriage (K); Healing of a relationship (T); Eternal rest for the dearly departed, end to financial struggles, successful sale of home, ability to travel on pilgrimage (L); For healing of a stomach illness (L); For the repose of the soul of a sister (C); Vocational security for family, Financial security for daughter beginning college (M); Vocational guidance, courage and strength (I); Health for an ailing nephew (A); Those suffering from depression (J); Successful adoption (S); Healing of a father battling cancer (S).
Psalm: Psalm 58: Against Unjust Judges


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