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."

March 20: Blessed John of Parma

Posted by Jacob

Today, March 20, we celebrate the feast of Blessed John of Parma (1209-1289), seventh Minister General of the Franciscan Order. Blessed John is remembered for his quiet and gentle spirit, kindness, and orthodox reforms of the order which had lapsed following the death of Saint Francis of Assisi. Blessed John worked tirelessly, crossing the continent of Europe until his death at age 80. His spiritual works bore great fruit, reinforcing the Rule of Saint Francis, and reaffirming the faith and commitment of the Franciscans.

Born Giovanni Buralli in Parma, Italy, John excelled at his studies and received his advanced degrees in philosophy and logic at a young age. By the age of 24, he was teaching at the university, but was more well-known for his piety and life of holiness. Blessed John realized that his calling was not in the academic realm, but in the religious, and at age 24, joined the Franciscan Order, forsaking the world. Following his profession, he was dispatched to Paris, to complete his studies of theology, and there was ordained to the priesthood. Having a natural affinity for teaching, John was sent to Bologna, Naples, and finally to Rome to teach theology. It is said that he preached so well that crowds of people came to hear his sermons (not just his students!), including important persons like local leaders and royalty.

In 1245, Pope Innocent IV called a general council in Lyons, France. The current Minister General of the Franciscan Order, Crescentius, was too ill to attend, and sent John in his place. There, John made a deep impression on the leaders of the Church gathered, impressing them with his deep faith, kind words, and appreciation of silent contemplation. Here was a man who had little negative to say about anyone or anything, and rather than speak, listened carefully to all that was said before rendering his own opinion. Blessed John was a model of humility and love of the Lord—so much so that he never spoke idly, as it distracted him from focusing on God.

In 1247, when it came time to elect a new Minister General of the Franciscan Order, Pope Innocent IV recommended Blessed John, remembering him attributes well. Approved by the Order, he became the seventh Minister General. The surviving disciples of Saint Francis rejoiced in his election, anticipating a return to the spirit of poverty and humility, like in the early days of the Order. One said to him upon his election, “Welcome, father… but you have come late!”

Those seeking reform were not disappointed. As Minister General, Blessed John set out to visit each house of the order—the first to do so—and restore the original Rule of Saint Francis. He traveled, always on foot, across Europe, stopping at each Franciscan convent. At times he would arrive at these places of worship and not be recognized. On these occasions, he would remain for three days to test the true spirit of the brothers before revealing his role. John’s journeys were recorded by his brethren. He is remembered as being a robust man, with only kind words to say, regardless of how tired he was after his journey. In most cases, he could be found performing the most menial duties, cleaning or peeling vegetables in the kitchen. His humility, faith, and obedience inspired his brethren. It is said that at times, when celebrating Mass, he was assisted by an angel from heaven.

When Blessed John began visiting the houses of his Order, he went to England first. When King Henry III heard that John was at the palace, the King went out to meet him and embraced the humble Friar. Similarly, when John was in France, he was visited by St. Louis IX who, on the eve of his departure for the Crusades, came to ask John's prayers and blessing on his journey. John continued his journey, visiting Burgundy and Provence. At Arles, a friar from Parma, John of Ollis, came to ask a favor. He asked Blessed John if he and another brother, Brother Salimbene, could be allowed to preach. John, however, did not want to make favorites of his Brothers. He said, "even if you were my blood brothers, I would not give you that permission without an examination.” Following examination by the tutor of the house, only Brother Salimbene was determined to be ready for preaching, and Brother John of Ollis was returned to his studies.

While traveling, news reached Blessed John that some trouble had broken out in Paris. Saint Bonaventure, one of the greatest scholars of the Franciscan Friars Minor, had been sent to the University of Paris to lecture. There, one of the university doctors had alleged heresy and found trouble in the saint’s words. Blessed John arrived, and was so humble and persuasive, that the man who had caused the trouble could only utter, "Blessed are you, and blessed are your words.”

Blessed John was later called to serve as Papal Legate to Constantinople, where he successfully convinced the schismatic Greeks to return home to the Church. Upon his return home, he found his efforts at continued reform bitterly opposed by many of his brothers, who had grown comfortable, and were not eager to return to a life of poverty. Well advanced in age, Blessed John asked Saint Bonaventure to succeed him as Minister General, which he did, and John spent the remainder of his years in a life of quiet prayer and contemplation at the hermitage at Greccio.

Shortly before his death, Blessed John learned that the Greeks, who he had been instrumental in reconciling with the Church, had relapsed in schism. John received permission from Pope Nicholas IV to return to Constantinople to restore unity. Despite his age, he set off with determination, but on his travels, feel sick and died.

Many years later, John learned that the Greeks, who had been reconciled with the Church for a time, had relapsed into schism. Though 80 years old by then, John received permission from Pope Nicholas IV to return to the East in an effort to restore unity once again. On his way, John fell sick and died. Following his death, many miracles were reported at his tombside.

The life of Blessed John of Parma is one of quiet faith, kindness, and gentle encouragement of others. In examining his life, we can see the benefits of his contemplative silence, listening, avoidance of idle words, and positive attitude. How often do our own words fail to encourage others, and quite the opposite, serve as reasons for discouragement? How frequently do we speak wickedly or angrily of others? During this Lenten season, we can look to Blessed John of Parma as inspiration to chose our words more carefully, abstain from gossip, and encourage those we encounter with Christian love .

Year 2: Day 79 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Encouraging and supportive tongues; Avoidance of wickedness and gossip.
Requested Intentions: Guidance in studies (J); Healing and security for a displaced family (C); Healing of high blood pressure; Recovery of brother following surgery (A); For a sister in trouble, that she may make better decisions in the light of Christ (M); Health of expectant mother and child (R); Attainment of funds for surgery (J); Freedom from financial difficulties (E); For employment and college acceptance (E); Recovery and healing of a friend (C); For successful outcome to surgery (C); Healing for brother (M); Successful employment (C); For the victims of the Japanese tsunami/earthquake (J); Healing (E); For a son struggling with depression (B); Successful conception (M); Freedom from social anxiety; confidence in the Lord (J); Improved success in employment and studies (D); Freedom from illness (T); For a wife’s employment (E); Healing of a husband’s knee (M); Freedom from sickness (R); Healing (C); Restoration of marriage (F); Freedom from medical difficulties, employment, successful relationship (D); Healing of a father following stroke (S).


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