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."

August 8: Blessed Mother Mary of the Cross, Australia's (soon-to-be) First Saint

Posted by Jacob

Today, August 8, we celebrate the feast of Blessed Mary Helen MacKillop (1842-1909), the first Australian to be beatified, and as of October 17, 2010, the first to be declared a saint. Known as Blessed Mary of the Cross, she founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart, struggling against opposition from within the Church to realize her calling and help her order reach fruition. Her motto of “Never see a need without doing something about it” continues to call us forth to action
Mary Helen MacKillop was born in Fitzroy, Melbourne, the eldest of seven children born to poor Scottish emigrants to Australia. Her father, who had studied for the priesthood, but had never been ordained, instilled in Mary from an early age the teachings and faith of Catholicism. She was observed to be an outspoken young woman, pious and deeply faithful. Educated in private schools, Mary excelled at her studies. Due to the family’s financial struggles, she also worked as a teenager, both as a store clerk and nursery governess. Following her education, Mary became first a tutor, and then a teacher. She established the “Bayward House Seminary for Young Ladies” in her home—a partly private school, partly community-supported endeavor. The project struggled economically, but Mary persisted. She became known for her holiness, her constant work in the local church, and for turning to prayer before making decisions.

Mary had always felt the call to religious life, but due to the need to assist with the financial support of her family, she continued her teaching career. However, she soon grew disillusioned with the governmental support of Catholic schools, and the accompanying restrictions on content of lessons, and with her family’s permission decided to leave Melbourne. In late 1865, Mary’s spiritual director, Father Tenison Woods—one of Australia’s great outback missionaries-- asked her to undertake the teaching of a school which he proposed to open in Penola (South Australia). Early in 1866 she crossed the border into South Australia with her two sisters and her brother John. Through hard work, the siblings turned an abandoned stable into a classroom, and there, On the Feast of Saint Joseph, Mary MacKillop-- the first Sister of Saint Joseph-- placed herself in the hands of her Divine Master to teach his little ones. She took formal vows the following year on the Feast of the Assumption, 1867, in Adelaide, becoming Mother Mary of the Cross.

The first two paragraphs of the Constitutions of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart read: "The primary end of the Institute is the sanctification of its members by the practice of the three simple vows of Poverty, Chastity and Obedience, and by the exact observance of this Rule. The secondary end of the Institute is the instruction of poor children. However, by way of exception and at the request or with the consent of the Ordinary, other works which may be required by necessity can be added to the work of education."

The Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart was the first religious order established in Australia. Mary worked tirelessly to build the order’s membership and open schools, soon establishing 17 across Australia. Within five years, the membership grew to 120 sisters. Her mission was to provide free education to the poor across the remotest areas, and in 1868, the order received local episcopal approval. She drew attention to herself, as her community did not live as typical “nuns.” Instead of living cloistered lives, they were active in the community, reaching out to women, and returning the dignity that had been lost through the degradation of the convict era. To these women, she dedicated her "talents to the God that gave them", she steadfastly refused any reward for her work. An English poet, London Punch, referred to her as a "second Moses in bonnet and shawl":

"Who led their expeditions and under whose command
Through dangers and through hardships
Sought they the Promised Land?
A second Moses, surely, it was who did it all.
It was. A second Moses in bonnet and in shawl."

The departure from what many considered the nun’s life was met with great opposition—both within the Church and without. Mary traveled throughout the continent, trying to spread the Order, and unify it. At that time, Australia was a collection of colonies, rather than a unified country, and the Church operated differently in each. Trying to standardize the training her Order received was a monumental task, met at each turn by opposition by Church hierarchy. In every case, Mary met the opposition with humility, obedience, and charity.

Mary’s independence and social ideas concerned the Church authorities she came into contact with, and she was eventually ordered by her bishop, who believed some exaggerated stories about the educator, to surrender control of the schools and her Order. She refused, stating her belief that the order, and the manner in which they conducted themselves, came from God. She was excommunicated in 1871 for disobedience. Mary was devastated, but never blamed the Church, writing: "I do not know how to describe the feeling, but I was intensely happy, and felt nearer to God than I had ever felt before. The sensation of the calm, beautiful presence of God I shall never forget." Instead of blame, she prayed that some good would come from the action, and she suffered through the humiliation and persecution. In 1872 her bishop, having determined the baseless nature of the accusations, apologized, and returned Mary to full communion. At that point, Mary, having every door closed to her in Australia, begged passage to Rome, traveling alone on the kindness of strangers, seeking approval of her order from the Holy See.

Having arrived in Rome, Mary was received by Pope Blessed Pius IX in 1873, who recognized her Order. She traveled through England, Ireland, and Scotland seeking funds for her schools. Upon her return to Australia, she held the first General Chapter of the Congregation, and at that time was elected Superior-general of the Order. Mary traveled from house to house in the Order for the rest of her life, working to improve education for the poor and general conditions for the Aborigines. She was a prolific correspondent with over 1,000 of her letters surviving. In her letters, she often closed with the phrase: "May God's Holy Spirit direct all: that a pure intention of seeking His Glory in doing His Will may guide all - we must pray most earnestly.”

During Mother Mary's active leadership of over 40 years she founded 160 Josephite houses, including 12 homes for orphans and homeless, and 117 schools with 12,000 children. At her death, the family she had founded in Christ numbered 1,000 Sisters. Since then, there have been more than 3,000 members of the Congregation. Today they number some 2,500 in 22 dioceses of Australia, in the four dioceses of New Zealand, and in both Peru and Ireland.

The success of her work, the victory over prejudice and misunderstanding, did not bring an end to the suffering of Mother Mary, so well-named "of the Cross.” The last years of her life were spent in a wheelchair, physically crippled by what would today be diagnosed as a stroke. It is a measure of the striking importance of the work she had begun, the appreciation of it even by secular government, that the New Zealand Railways placed a special train at her disposal on her last visit to the houses in that Dominion.

Mother Mary died peacefully in August 1909, surrounded by her sisters. Her relics were translated to a vault at the Church of the Mother of God in the Memorial Chapel in Sydney. Miracles have been attributed to her intercession both while alive, and after her death. On October 17, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI will declare her Australia’s first saint.

During her beatification in 1995, Pope John Paul II said that Mary MacKillop embodies the best of Australia and its people: "genuine openness to others, hospitality to strangers, generosity to the needy, justice to those unfairly treated, perseverance in the face of adversity, kindness and support to the suffering."

Pope Benedict XVI said in 2008, while visiting her tomb: “In the vastness of the Australian continent, Blessed Mary MacKillop was not daunted by the great desert, the immense expanses of the outback, nor by the spiritual ‘wilderness’ which affected so many of her fellow citizens. Rather she boldly prepared the way of the Lord in the most trying situations. With gentleness, courage and compassion, she was a herald of the Good News among the isolated ‘battlers’ and the urban slum-dwellers. Mother Mary of the Cross knew that behind the ignorance, misery and suffering which she encountered there were people, men and women, young and old, yearning for God and his righteousness.”

One time Mother Mary said: "When I am gone, our Congregation will flourish. I have made the way smooth for those who will come after me. I have had uphill work; but my sweet Jesus knew what was best for me, and I thank Him for giving me something to suffer for His sake." Mother Mary of the Cross suffered for her beliefs, her calling, her God. Through her tireless work and service to others, she transformed a governmental system and provided human dignity, education, and care to thousands. Her legacy reminds us of the positive work we can achieve, when we draw into the interiors of our hearts where God resides, gently urging us to take up His Cross.

Selected Quotations from Blessed Mother Mary of the Cross:
"I do indeed feel such a grateful love of God when He denies me my natural desires - even when they sometimes seem best ... I do so long to love God, and be grateful to Him when He denies me anything I expect."

"At Mass, Communion, prayers, and any duty I am engaged in, I can think of nothing but giving myself with my whole heart to the Will of God ... and giving myself thus takes from me the power of even in the smallest thing repining at what He sends to myself or to those I love ... I am willing to be in darkness and suspense all my life, and to suffer eternal darkness in the next, provided I hate not my God there as well as serve Him so coldly here - anything, so long as the Will of God be done in me and in all creatures ... It is only my own faults, my own coldness, that keep me back from Him, and yet, were the choice left to me, and I knew it to be His Will, I would ask Him to let me serve Him thus, as no other suffering could be suffering to me with His Holy Will."

"Our good God sees that I must not have comfort, at least, not much, from those I know He loves; so I must go on praying that He may do what He pleases with me, and give me true comfort only in Himself in Heaven, and in His Will on earth."

"We have no will of our own, but must do and follow the path which is traced out for us ... so God's Holy Will, more of the Cross, and a long, weary life and rest only when we will go to Him."
"Let us do the Will of Him we love, and not by one willful sigh wish for life or death, but as He pleases; so that no shadow of earthly will or of self remain in hearts chosen by the God of Love for Himself."

"Oh, do have more courage under your little disappointments and trials; they are intended by your Divine Spouse to do your soul much good and to lead you closer to Him ... I know that out of all our hearts' troubles He will bring glory to Himself."
"I will not shrink from any cross or trial, but rather follow Him as closely as possible in the daily and hourly discharge of every duty of my state. If, now and then, some little sacrifice to nature is required, Oh then, my God, let me look up to Thee, and let my faint heart take courage. Let me not prove a coward in Thy service. Let me love to be humiliated and persecuted and this that I may, during the remainder of this short life, remain as near to Thee, my Jesus, in the thickest of the strife, as in Thy Divine Wisdom Thou art pleased to permit."

From a Letter to the Congregation in Sydney:

"We have much sorrow and are still suffering but sorrow or trial lovingly submitted to does not prevent our being happy; it rather purifies our happiness, and in so doing draws our hearts nearer to God. That such may be the same with all of us, my dear Sisters, I earnestly pray. I think we can all honestly admit that we wanted some external cross to make us among ourselves what true Sisters of St. Joseph and humble spouses of a suffering and most charitable God should be."

"You must know, dear ones, how often Charity was thoughtlessly wounded, how often deviations from obedience in little matters were made, how often criticism and murmuring were indulged in. These and similar faults had to be corrected, and our good God has chosen His own way. It is but right that He should let the heaviest part of the Cross fall upon your Mother, who was so little able to be to you what the Mother-General of such an Institute should be. I am glad that it should be so, and oh, my dearly-loved Sisters, listen to me now, and if you do what I ask you, you will indeed be happy, and my sorrow shall not have been in vain."

Most loving God
We thank you for the example of Mary MacKillop,
who in living of the Gospel
Witness to the human dignity of each person.
She faced life's challenges with courage.
We pray for each intercessions for our needs....
May her holiness soon be accepted by the Church.
We make this prayer through Jesus the Lord. 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.
Psalm: Psalm 105: God’s Fidelity to His Promise

1 Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
2 Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.
3 Glory in his holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice.
4 Look to the LORD and his strength;
seek his face always.
5 Remember the wonders he has done,
his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,
6 O descendants of Abraham his servant,
O sons of Jacob, his chosen ones.
7 He is the LORD our God;
his judgments are in all the earth.
8 He remembers his covenant forever,
the word he commanded, for a thousand generations,
9 the covenant he made with Abraham,
the oath he swore to Isaac.
10 He confirmed it to Jacob as a decree,

to Israel as an everlasting covenant:
11 "To you I will give the land of Canaan
as the portion you will inherit.” (verses 1-11)

Day 220 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Courage to follow the Will of God; Respect for the dignity of every person.
Requested Intentions: For employment for two sons (R); For sanctification of a fried considering a move (A); For friends experiencing job difficulties (A); Health, employment, and conversion of a son (S); Health, financial success, positive move (S); Financial security, and health, guidance, and protection for children (ML); For the religious and children of Saint Xavier’s Boarding School, India (FB); Fortitude and faith, Career success (A); Healing of a relationship, employment (A); End to debt and legal difficulties; immigration success (B); For a mother’s continued employment (S); For continued blessings on a relationship (S); For a sick grandmother (R); For the building of a Catholic community, family, and law practice (M); Those suffering from depression (J); Successful adoption (S); Healing of a father battling cancer (S).
Psalm 105: God’s Fidelity to His Promise
Day 2 of Novena to Saint Cajetan for the Unemployed


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