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."

July 20, 2013: Saint Margaret of Antioch

Posted by Jacob

Today, July 20, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Margaret of Antioch (died 304), Virgin of the Church, and martyr for the faith. As with other early saints, much of what we know of Saint Margaret may be the stuff of pious legend, embroidered with medieval fantasy, somewhat “far-fetched” by today’s scientific standards. Stripping away the dragons, however, we are left with a young woman, committed to Christ, obedient to her calling, who suffered and died for her faith… and those “facts” are enough to inspire us today.

Saint Margaret was born in Antioch (modern day Turkey) near the end of the third century. Margaret’s father was a pagan priest and her mother died when Margaret was very young. Her nurse, a pious Christian woman, raised Margaret, instructing her in the Christian faith against her father’s wishes. When this betrayal was discovered, Margaret’s father disowned her, and she left the home, continuing to live with her nurse. Before the age of 10, Margaret consecrated herself to Jesus, pledging to remain a virgin, a pure bride of Christ.

Margaret spent her days in prayer and contemplation, tending sheep in the fields. One bright day, a local Roman prefect, Olybrius, observed her during her prayer, and was taken by her delicate beauty. He attempted to court her, but she refused his advances. In retaliation, he accused her of being a Christian, which was forbidden at that time under the reign of Emperor Diocletian. Christians were actively persecuted upon discovery, and Margaret, who did not deny the charge, was no exception. She was brought to trial, to which she offered no defense, and was sentenced to execution upon refusing to offer sacrifices to the pagan gods.

While imprisoned, Margaret is said to have been visited by the Devil, in the form of a hideous, scaly dragon. Holy legend tells us that the dragon, offended by her faith and purity, swallowed her whole. However, the crucifix that Margaret carried with her so irritated his throat, that she was coughed up, indigestible due to her faith, unharmed. Following her emergence from the demon, the dragon transformed into a handsome young man, whom Margaret immediately attacked, resisting his charms. Throwing him to the ground, she exclaimed, “Proud demon, lie prostrate beneath a woman’s foot!” foreshadowing the triumph of the Blessed Virgin over Satan. For this reason, due to her delivery from the belly of the beast, it is believed that Margaret is the patron saint of pregnancy, labor, and childbirth. She is considered one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, assisting in safe delivery of children.

Multiple attempts were made to martyr Margaret, but each time her prayers kept her safe. First, she was set afire, but remained miraculously unharmed. Next, she was boiled in a large cauldron, and again, emerged unscathed. Finally, at approximately age 15, Saint Margaret was beheaded, the name of Christ upon her lips until the final moment of her life.

Following her death, Saint Margaret is believed to have visited with Saint Joan of Arc, one of the heavenly voices that assisted Joan in her holy mission in France. At her trial, Saint Joan said: "Saint Michael, when he came to me, told me that Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret would come to me and that I should act by their advice, that they were bidden to lead me in what I had to do and that I should believe in what they would say to me and that it was by God's order."

Saint Margaret’s body was buried at Antioch, but her remains were taken translated to Italy where they were divided between shrines in Montefiascone and Venice. She remains a popular saint today throughout Europe, with a common belief that those who read and spread her story will receive an eternal crown in heaven. She is also invoked frequently by women during childbirth, whom she promised to pray for following her encounter with Satan.

Fantastical though it may be, Saint Margaret of Antioch was a young woman who resisted the temptations of the world. Remaining pure in body, spirit, and faith, she went to her death with a confidence far beyond her years, remaining true to the Lord. Whether she physically battled with the Devil, we can be certain that she did so spiritually each day, and in the end, triumphed over him, receiving the martyr’s crown, and taking her rightful place in heaven with the saints.

Jesus, Lover of chastity, Mary, Mother most pure, and Joseph, chaste guardian of the Virgin, to you I come at this hour, begging you to plead with God for me. I earnestly wish to be pure in thought, word and deed in imitation of your own holy purity.

Obtain for me, then, a deep sense of modesty which will be reflected in my external conduct. Protect my eyes, the windows of my soul, from anything that might dim the luster of a heart that must mirror only Christlike purity.

And when the "Bread of Angels becomes the Bread of me" in my heart at Holy Communion, seal it forever against the suggestions of sinful pleasures.

Heart of Jesus, Fount of all purity, have mercy on us.



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