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."

February 7: Saint Theodore Stratelates

Posted by Jacob

Today, February 7, we celebrate the feast of Saint Theodore Stratelates (also known as Theodore the General, died 319), The Great Martyr. Saint Theodore the General is sometimes confused with Saint Theodore the Recruit, whose feast we celebrated on November 9. Both great and holy soldiers share similar life stories of dedicated military service, and the courage to profess their faith in Jesus Christ—a courage that earned them the crown of martyrdom.

Theodore was born in the city of Auchaita in Asia Minor. From birth he was a natural leader, possessing many talents, tall, strong, and handsome in appearance. His family—well acquainted with the emperor of the time-- practiced the Christian faith, and Theodore grew in devotion to the Lord while serving in the Roman army.

Recognized for his bravery, Theodore was appointed military commander (statelatos, from which his name originates). Stationed in the city of Heraclea, he dispatched his duties with great honor, while preaching the Gospel of Christ to the pagans of that city. His gift of persuasion, reinforced by his personal example of Christian life, led many to embrace Christianity, and soon nearly the entire city was practicing the faith.

Things seemed to be going well for Theodore, but under Emperor Licinius (who ascended to the throne in 311), a new round of persecutions against Christians began. Licinius, for his part, felt threatened by the Christian faith, and viewed Christians as the enemies to the empire. He began his persecution with Saint Theodore, who refused to offer pagan sacrifices. Seeking to make an example of him, and knowing he dare not refuse an invitation from the emperor, Licinius invited Theodore to participate in a public sacrifice before all the people.

Saint Theodore joined Licinius, but rather than offering sacrifice, smashed the gold and silver statues of the pagan gods into pieces, which he then distributed to the poor and needy. He was, of course, arrested and tortured mercilessly. First, he was dragged through the city behind horses, beaten with iron rods, pierced with sharp spikes, burned with fire, and his eyes plucked out. All during this, Theodore repeated: "Glory to Thee, my God, glory to Thee." Finally, he was publicly crucified.

But the Lord was not done with Saint Theodore, and in the night, an angel visited the saint, removed him from the cross and healed his wounds. In the morning, the imperial soldiers who had so mercilessly tortured him found him alive and unharmed. Each accepted Christ on the spot, noting the mighty power of the Lord.

Emperor Licinius was livid, blinded with rage against the Christians of the community. Saint Theodore, unwilling to escape martyrdom for Christ voluntarily surrendered himself to Licinius, and discouraged the Christians from rising up against the torturer, saying, "Beloved, halt! My Lord Jesus Christ, hanging upon the Cross, restrained the angels and did not permit them to take revenge on the race of man."

On his way to his second execution, the holy martyr opened up the prison doors with just a word and freed the prisoners from their bonds. People who touched his robe were healed instantly from sicknesses, and freed from demonic possession.

Saint Theodore was beheaded by the sword. His name was buried in Auchaita, the city of his birth. His relics were later taken to the Blachernae Church at Constantinople. His courage and fortitude in facing death inspire us today.

Relics (skull pieces) of Saint Theodore Stratelates
Church of Saint Theodore Stratelates by the Stream

From the Life of Saint Theodore by Saint Nikolai Velimirovich

There are martyrdoms more precious than precious. The preciousness of martyrdom depends upon the greatness of the good which a Christian abandons and in lieu of that, accepts suffering; and still, it depends upon the greatness of the suffering which he endures for Christ's sake. St. Theodore, a Roman commander in the army of Emperor Licinius and mayor of the town of Heraclea, scorned his youth, handsome appearance, military rank and the good graces of the emperor. In place of all that, he accepted horrible tortures for the sake of Christ. At first, Theodore was flogged and received six-hundred lashes on his stomach. After this, he was raised on a cross and was completely pierced with lances. Finally, Theodore was beheaded. Why all of this? Because, St. Theodore loved Christ the Lord above all else in the world. He abhorred the stupid idolatry of the superstitious Emperor Licinius. He smashed the idols of silver and gold and distributed pieces of them to the poor. He converted many to the Faith of Christ and called upon Emperor Licinius himself to reject idolatry and to believe in the One Living God. During the entire time of his tortures, St. Theodore said repeatedly: "Glory to You my God, glory to You! St. Theodore suffered on February 8, 319 A.D., at 3:00 p.m. and entered into the kingdom of Christ. St. Theodore is considered the Protector of Soldiers who call upon him for assistance. His miracle-working relics were translated from Euchaita to Constantinople and interred in the church of Balchernae.

O trophy-bearer Theodore, by thy strategy thou wast a general of the heavenly King; armed with the weapons of faith thou didst annihilate hordes of demons and win the Athletes' contest. With faith we call thee blessed.

Great are the achievements of faith! In the fountain of flame, as by the water of rest, the holy Martyr Theodore rejoiced; for having been made a whole-burnt offering in the fire, he was offered as sweet bread unto the Trinity. By his prayers, O Christ God, save our souls.
Through the prayers of our Holy Fathers, Lord Jesus Christ our God, have mercy on us and save us! Amen!

Year 2: Day 38 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Courage.
Requested Intentions: Successful employment (N): Freedom from mental illness for a friend (L); For successful marriage (N); For friends having and recovering from surgery; for the reduction of a brain tumor (L); For resolution of a housing crisis (P); For a brother who is struggling financially, for a son who is struggling academically (B); For financial security for a friend (C); Success in business; familial happiness and health (J); Health and recovery of a sister (I); 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); Healing of a father following stroke (S).


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