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."

January 26: Saint Paula of Rome

Posted by Jacob

Within this tomb a child of Scipio lies,

A daughter of the farfamed Pauline house,
A scion of the Gracchi, of the stock
Of Agamemnon's self, illustrious:
Here rests the lady Paula, well-beloved
Of both her parents, with Eustochium
For daughter; she the first of Roman dames
Who hardship chose and Bethlehem for Christ.

In front of the cavern there is another inscription as follows:—
Do you see here hollowed in the rock a grave,
'Tis Paula's tomb; high heaven has her soul.
Who Rome and friends, riches and home forsook
Here in this lonely spot to find her rest.
For here Christ's manger was, and here the kings
To Him, both God and man, their offerings made.
Inscription on Saint Paula's Tomb

Today, January 26, we celebrate the feast of Saint Paula of Rome (also known as Saint Paula of Bethlehem, 347-404), widow, friend to Saint Jerome, Abbess, pilgrim to the Holy Land, and builder of hospitals and monasteries. Saint Paula is largely regarded as being formative in the manner in which nuns and sisters took the habit and lived in religious communities, given her building of monasteries and convents in the Holy Land. She is also considered the patron saint of widows.

Born in Rome, to one of Italy’s most ancient and illustrious families, she was raised in the faith and well-matched by her parents to Toxotius, a member of high Roman society and power. Together, as husband and wife, Toxotius and Paula shunned many of the Roman traditions, embracing their Christian faith at a time when it was neither safe, nor common, to do so. Many were moved by their practical, lived faith, and together, the couple inspired many throughout the region—both practicing Christians and those who later converted. Paula gave birth to five children, whom both she and her husband loved very much, raising them piously. Two of her children, Blaesilla and Eustochium, are venerated as saints for their works sanctified by faith.

When Paula was just 32 years old, her husband died, and she was confronted with the realities of the world. While she was strong in her faith, she soon realized that she had clung to some of the worldly trappings of her station in society. She grieved deeply for all that she had lost with her husband’s passing, and was unable to be shaken from her despair. After a time, however, Saint Marcella- a widow of the same Roman position and station—counseled her into a life of penance and service. From that time on, Saint Paula committed herself to a life of austerity, using her wealth and position to assist all in need. Through Saint Marcella, and the cluster of devour Roman women who had begun to live together in community, she was introduced to Saint Jerome, who became her friend, spiritual advisor, and counselor

Saint Paula lived in Rome for many years, serving those in need. Again, it took the despair and grief of loss—this time, her daughter, Saint Blaesilla—to push her forward. Tired of city life, Paula felt drawn to a deeper connection to the Lord, which she felt certain could be found in the desert, in a monastic life. Taking her daughter Eustochium with her, they visited the holy shrines of the Holy Land, Antioch, and Egypt, visiting monastic communities, and deepening their contemplative connection with God. Eventually, they settled in Bethlehem, studying with Saint Jerome who lived there himself.

In Bethlehem, Paula resumed her charitable work with those in need, using her remaining fortune to build a monastery for men, a convent for women, and a hospice for travelers. Neither ornate nor fancy, Paula had simple, practical buildings constructed, as she preferred not to waste money, saving excess to be distributed to the poor. Her practical construction was only matched by her practical and simple faith. She is known for explaining her construction of the hospice in Bethlehem by saying, “Mary and Joseph couldn’t find shelter when they came to town.”

Saint Paula and Eustochium resided in the convent, of which Paula severed as Abbess. Within a few years, more than 50 women—of varying social backgrounds and positions—had joined the community. Saint Paula, stressing poverty and virtue—insisted that sisters wear a habit, which is the first record of this identifying style of clothing. Under her leadership, the sisters lived a rigorous life of prayer, work (making clothing for the needy), and penance.

Saint Paula died at the age of 56, after long service to the Lord. Her funeral attracted large crowds at the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem. Saint Jerome, who recorded her life and penned her eulogy, wrote:

“1. If all the members of my body were to be converted into tongues, and if each of my limbs were to be gifted with a human voice, I could still do no justice to the virtues of the holy and venerable Paula. Noble in family, she was nobler still in holiness; rich formerly in this world's goods, she is now more distinguished by the poverty that she has embraced for Christ. Of the stock of the Gracchi and descended from the Scipios, the heir and representative of that Paulus whose name she bore, the true and legitimate daughter of that Martia Papyria who was mother to Africanus, she yet preferred Bethlehem to Rome, and left her palace glittering with gold to dwell in a mud cabin. We do not grieve that we have lost this perfect woman; rather we thank God that we have had her, nay that we have her still. For all live unto God, (Luke 20:38) and they who return unto the Lord are still to be reckoned members of his family. We have lost her, it is true, but the heavenly mansions have gained her; for as long as she was in the body she was absent from the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6) and would constantly complain with tears:— Woe is me that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar; my soul has been this long time a pilgrim. It was no wonder that she sobbed out that even she was in darkness (for this is the meaning of the word Kedar) seeing that, according to the apostle, the world lies in the evil one; (1 John 5:19) and that, as its darkness is, so is its light; and that the light shines in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not. (John 1:5) She would frequently exclaim: I am a stranger with you and a sojourner as all my fathers were, and again, I desire to depart and to be with Christ. (Philippians 1:23) As often too as she was troubled with bodily weakness (brought on by incredible abstinence and by redoubled fastings), she would be heard to say: I keep under my body and bring it into subjection; lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway; (1 Corinthians 9:27) and It is good neither to eat flesh nor to drink wine; (Romans 14:21) and I humbled my soul with fasting; and you will make all my bed in my sickness; and Your hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. And when the pain which she bore with such wonderful patience darted through her, as if she saw the heavens opened (Acts 7:56) she would say Oh that I had wings like a dove! For then would I fly away and be at rest.

2. I call Jesus and his saints, yes and the particular angel who was the guardian and the companion of this admirable woman to bear witness that these are no words of adulation and flattery but sworn testimony every one of them borne to her character. They are, indeed, inadequate to the virtues of one whose praises are sung by the whole world, who is admired by bishops, regretted by bands of virgins, and wept for by crowds of monks and poor. Would you know all her virtues, reader, in short? She has left those dependent on her poor, but not so poor as she was herself. In dealing thus with her relatives and the men and women of her small household— her brothers and sisters rather than her servants— she has done nothing strange; for she has left her daughter Eustochium— a virgin consecrated to Christ for whose comfort this sketch is made— far from her noble family and rich only in faith and grace.”

The life of Saint Paula was one filled with grief and sorrow—experiences that pushed her to pursue her relationship with the Lord, and deepen her faith. So it is with us, as well. Sometimes it is in the hardship, struggle, and sorrow of our daily lives that we pause to feel the quiet presence of God. As we move into this new year, we commit ourselves to inviting the Lord into our lives—in both the difficult times and the joyful times, recognizing that all things are from Him.

Year 2: Day 26 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Praise and Thanksgiving, Joy in sorrow.
Requested Intentions: Development of a chaste relationship pleasing to the Lord (E); Successful surgery of mother; delivery of daughters’ babies (L); For a friend suffering with depression (M); For a friend entering religious life (R); Success of a parish men’s retreat (H); For a mother who is grieving; for the soul of a dearly departed son (M); Reconciliation of a marriage (M); End to grief after death of son (B&C); End to grief (S); Successful marriage (N); For an RCIA candidate struggling with financial and family stressors (O); Freedom from anxiety regarding medical procedure (J); Return home of an ill mother, peace and financial security (J); Restoration of a marriage; family peace (N); Freedom from persecution (A); For a friend struggling with medical problems and surgery (L); Financial blessings (D); For the success of a project (T); Improved financial stability (A); Improved relationship with business partner (A); For employment (N); Reconciliation of a workplace relationship (R); Healing of son, cousin, and friend (L); Healing of a husband from cancer, end to medical problems (T); Freedom from persecution (E); Successful employment (R); Healing of a father following stroke (S).


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