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."

Mrch 28: Saint Stephen Harding

Posted by Jacob

Today, March 28, we celebrate the feast of Saint Stephen Harding (died 1134), founder of the Cistercian monasteries, and third abbot of the monastery at Citeaux. Referred to by his brothers as “the Pragmatic Englishman,” Citeaux grew in membership and prosperity under his leadership, allowing the expansion and sustainability of the Order, which he would later formalize in the Carta Caritatis (the Charter of Love).

Stephen Harding was born in Dorset, England, the son of a nobleman. At a young age, Stephen’s parents delivered him to the abbey at Sherbourne, consecrating him to the Lord, and entrusting the monks there to raise their son. Proficient in English, French, and Latin, Stephen demonstrated an incredible aptitude for his studies, but became dissatisfied with the corruption in the monastery at Sherbourne. He became\a traveling scholar, continuing his studies in Paris and Rome. Eventually, Stephen settled at the abbey of Molesme in Burgundy, serving the abbot there, Saint Robert of Molesme.

When Saint Robert left Molesme, attempting to distance himself from corruption and laxity that had developed there, Stephen and Saint Alberic accompanied him. Eventually, twenty-one additional monks deserted Molesme to join Saint Robert, Stephen, and Saint Alberic, and the three leaders formed a new monastery at Citeaux.

Cistercian Monastery at Citeaux

Initially, Saint Robert served as abbot, but left to return to Molesme after one year. Saint Alberic served as abbot until his death in 1108, at which point, Saint Stephen assumed the role. As abbot, Stephen guided the new monastery over a period of great growth. Saint Bernard of Clairvaux visited in 1112 and brought with him his followers. Between 1112 and 1119, a dozen new Cistercian houses were founded to contain the monks coming to the new movement. In 1115, for example, Saint Stephen built the abbey of Clairvaux, and installed St. Bernard as its Abbot. From it 800 abbeys were born.

In 1119, Stephen wrote the Carta Caritatis, ('Charter of Love'), the document which established the charter and unifying principles for the Cistercian Order. The Charter of Love (also referred to as the Charter of Charity) was a six page constitution which laid out the relationship between the Cistercian houses and their abbots, set out the obligations and duties inherent in these, and ensured the accountability of all the abbots and houses to the underlying themes of charity and living according to the rule of Benedict.

Saint Stephen served the monastery at Citeaux for twenty-five years, and while the initial three abbots are considered founders of the Order, none are considered as responsible for shaping the beliefs and growth of the Order as Saint Stephen. Saint Stephen was guided by practicality, in both his administration of the monastery complex and his scholarship. He revised the Cistercian Breviary, eradicating corruptions that had crept in chant, and translated many works personally by consulting ancient texts and consulting with rabbis on the difficult Hebrew passages. The monks at Citeaux labored endlessly to copy and illuminate these passages, and the scriptorium at Citeaux was regarded as famous in its day.

In 1133, Saint Stephen resigned as head of the order, due to age and disability. He died the following year. The account of his death is particularly moving for its humility. When confronted by his contemporaries, who assured him that he had nothing to fear in the next world, Saint Stephen replied: "I assure you that I go to God in fear and trembling. If my baseness should be found to have ever done any good, even in this I fear, lest I should not have preserved that grace with the humility and care I ought."

In the words of author Stephen Tobin, "Stephen Harding found Cîteaux just another reformed abbey, and left it the head of the first (European) religious order ... Nothing like it had ever been seen before ... At the head of a flourishing family of daughter houses, with a clearly defined manifesto and full legal constitution, Cîteaux was a force for change, and a force to be reckoned within a world where (other leaders) vied to outdo each other in accruing and displaying wealth and power.”

Saint Stephen instructed and formalized his brothers in the tenets of monastic life: Obedience, Poverty, Chastity, Silence, Prayer and Work. His life was a balance of practicality and devotion, spending his days in prayer for the blessings of the Lord upon the order, while attending to the practical daily management of many monasteries. Throughout his accomplishments, he remained humble and penitent, never taking credit for the successes and growth of the Cistercians, but instead, attributing all good things to the Lord. Today, we pray for the practicality and devotion of Saint Stephen Harding, as we journey toward Easter.

Year 2: Day 86 of 365
Prayer Intentions: A life balanced in practicality and devotion to the Lord.
Requested Intentions: Health for a soon to be delivered baby (T); Financial security (L); Healing of tooth pain (A); Health of expectant mother and child (R); Purification of the souls in Purgatory (A); 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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