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 25: Blessed Sebastian of Aparicio

Posted by Jacob

February 25 marks the feast day of Blessed Sebastian of Aparicio (1502-1600). Beatified in 1789 by Pope Pius VI, Sebastian’s canonization is currently pending. His simple life, devoted whole-heartedly to the Lord, is a template for living today.

Sebastian was born the son of poor parents in Galicia, Spain. Early in his life, a terrible epidemic of the plague reached his village, and by order of the government, all those infected were quarantined on the outskirts of town. This was a dangerous place to live, bordering wilderness, but he and his mother did as they were instructed, moving into a small isolated hut. It was there, according to holy legend, that a wolf attacked young Sebastian, biting him severely. He bled excessively, and when the bleeding had been stopped, he was found to be cured of the plague. From that moment on, Sebastian was found to possess an uncanny ability to relate to animals, and they generally followed his ever command.

Sebastian earned his living as a young man in several types of work, primarily physical labor. He worked on several farms, but having committed himself to the Lord, left several positions due to unchaste temptations—first following the declaration of love from a wealthy widow, and later following a similar declaration from the daughter of his employer. Despite these trials, he continued farming, as he found that it gave him an opportunity to meditate and pray as he worked in the fields.

In 1533, as he feared that temptation would overcome him, Sebastian left Spain, sailing to the “new world” in Mexico. He settled at Puebla de los Angeles, and again gravitated to agricultural work, initially being employed as a farm hand and laborer. Over the next several years, Sebastian experienced great success, both vocationally and financially. Recognizing the need to convey materials between settlements, and also with the native peoples of Mexico, he started a small carting business. As his need for animals grew, he integrated bull-training into his business, and then to facilitate easier transportation, began building roads. Before long, he had amassed a large fortune, little of which he kept for himself. Instead, he lived simply and charitably, providing necessary dowries for young women who wished to marry, food for the poor, financial gifts to struggling farmers, and generosity to the maligned native people.

Sebastian retired from business in 1552, seeking a quiet and contemplative life with his Lord. At age 60, upon urging from a local poor family, he agreed to marry their daughter, but only under the stipulation that it remain a virginal marriage. While Sebastian had never taken a vow of celibacy, he embrace the self-sacrifice as a sign of his love for the Lord. His wife died after several years, and he remarried, under similar stipulations. Sadly, his second wife also died quickly, having fallen from a fruit tree while picking fruit. Sebastian prayed for his wives, considering their lives holy, and proclaiming that he had assisted "two white doves" ascend to Heaven with the Lord.

Following the death of his second wife, when Sebastian was approximately 70, he was stricken with a severe stomach illness. While he recovered, during the height of his sickness he had received a heavenly vision instructing him to prepare for his death. So moved by the call of God, he sold all that he had, donated the money to the Franciscan Order of Poor Clares, and went to work for the Franciscan nuns.

It became clear to Sebastian after a few years of service that he was called to officially become a Franciscan of the First order. At 72 years old, he took the vows of the Franciscans, and lived 26 years longer as a member of the order. During this time, he proved to be the humblest of his brother, spending his days begging alms for the monastery and the poor of the region. He became known for his holiness, acts or piety, and obedience, and many miracles were attributed to him, often involving animals (whom he continued to display a truly Franciscan relationship with). When he traveled through the country, it was said that he was seen accompanied by angels. He was also visited by demons in his monastery cell at night, his brothers oftentimes afraid to join him there as he waged a war of prayer against them.

At age 98, Brother Sebastian’s stomach illness returned, which he bore without complaint. His only sorrow was that it prevented him from receiving the Holy Eucharist. At his request, the Blessed Sacrament was brought to his cell, where he laid on the cold, bare floor in adoration. He asked his Franciscan brothers to pray the Apostle’s Creed over him, and as they prayed: "I believe in the resurrection of the dead and life everlasting," Sebastian passed away, surrounded by the light of Christ. His body was interred, but exhumed twice to be moved, found incorrupt as it remains today. His incorrupt body rests, encased in glass, in Puebla de los Angeles in Mexico. Numerous miracles have been reported there.

Blessed Sebastian of Aparicio lived a simple, yet caring life. He recognized the will of the Lord in his daily events, no job too menial or too small to offer in service to his fellow man, the nuns of the Poor Clare convent, or his Franciscan brothers. He found the joy of the Lord everywhere—in farming the fields, communing with animals, helping the indigenous peoples of the region, or building roads. He resisted the temptations of the Devil, oftentimes taking extreme actions (like moving across the world) to ensure the sanctity of his soul and body. How often do we resent the little jobs we have to accomplish in life? How often do we struggle to find personal glory in our daily toils, when in fact, all our righteous work glorifies the Lord? How can we offer every action of our lives, however small and menial, to our God for His glory and the salvation of all?

Day 56 of 365
Prayer Intentions: To find the Lord in the events of our daily lives, however small!
Requested Intentions: Safety of travelers (J); Improved family relationship with the Lord, using gifts for His glory (L); For the orphans of Saint Francis Xavier in India (Fr. B); For the health of a family member with Rett’s Disorder (C); For the restoration of hearing (L); For a restorative, faith-deepening Lent for all those who are struggling (L).
Special Intentions (Day 15 of 45-day Novena to Our Blessed Lady of Lourdes): The intentions of all those who read this blog, whether submitted or retained in the quiet of their hearts; Penance, Penance, Penance for sinners; For all those who are suffering.


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