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 8: Saint Josephine (Guiseppine) Bakhita

Posted by Jacob

Today, February 8, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Josephine Bakhita (also known as Saint Guiseppine, born 1869, deceased 1947), the first person ever from Sudan to be canonized, or even beatified. Saint Josephine holds the honor of being the first modern African to be canonized since the early centuries of Christianity, when several North Africans were declared Saints. Born in the Sudan, Saint Josephine Bakhita has long been a source of hope and love for that war-torn country. While Saint Josephine’s feast day is celebrated the world over, it is marked in a special way by the Sudanese.

Saint Josephine was born in Darfur, in the Southern part of Sudan. At age nine, she was captured by slave raiders, taken from her village and country, and sold into slavery. She was given the name “Bakhita” by the slave traders, which translates as “fortunate one.” By the time she was thirteen years of age, she would be sold five separate times, the first four masters worse than the last. In her memoirs, Saint Josephine recounts the horrible treatment she endured, including heavy chains, whipping, starvation, lacerations, and tattooing. The tattooing was remembered as the worst of these, with 114 separate cuts being made over her entire body, and subsequently, the tattooist literally rubbing salt in the wounds, each day for a month. She attempted escape many times, but never succeeded.

Josephine’s fifth and last “master” was an Italian Consul. He treated Josephine well, for the first time in her life. She wrote, “I really was the fortunate one, because the new master was a very good man and started to like me. I was not punished or whipped, so that it all seemed unreal to me, being able to enjoy such peace and tranquility." When her owner fled to Italy from the Sudan, she begged to accompany him.

In Italy, Josephine was exposed to Catholicism through a Venetian Institute of Catechism maintained by the Canossa Sisters, the Daughters of Charity. Josephine recounted that as her knowledge of the Lord grew, she recognized Christ as the One she had "experienced in her heart without knowing who it was" since she was a small child. She said, "Seeing the sun, the moon and the stars, I said to myself: who could be the Master of these beautiful things? And I felt a great desire to see Him, to know Him and to pay Him homage..." In 1890, she was baptized, and took the name Guiseppine (Josephine). She was subsequently oftentimes observed kissing the baptismal font, saying: "Here, I became a daughter of God!" Josephine remained in the catechumenate for 4 more years, "during which I could hear more and more clearly the gentle voice of the Lord, urging me to consecrate myself to God."

When her owners decided to return to the Sudan, Josephine refused, declaring her intent to remain in Italy, serving the Lord. Following a legal battle, during which the Italian courts ruled that Josephine had been a free woman since setting foot in Italy, as slavery had been outlawed in that country for years, she was allowed to stay.

Josephine took her vows in 1893, becoming a Canossan Sister, and dedicating her life to works of charity. She is remembered for a gentle spirit, kind heart, overwhelming forgiveness, and simple joy. Sister Josephine was happy to take the most menial jobs, cooking, mending, sewing, cleaning, and greeting each visitor at the door of the convent. She used to tell her sisters, "You teach catechism, I will stay in the chapel and pray for you that you may teach well."

Over the next fifty years, she served her community with a constant smile. Though her health gradually worsened, forcing her into a wheelchair, she remained a model of holiness and charity. When asked how she was, Josephine would reply, “As the Master desires.” A sister further asked her once, "Do you wish to go to heaven?" She answered, "I neither wish to go nor to stay. God knows where to find me when he wants me!"

At her deathbed, Saint Josephine Bakhita experienced significant pain and recalled the days of her slavery. She begged her nurse, "Please, loosen the chains ... they are heavy!" Surrounded by her Canossan sisters, Saint Josephine breathed her last, ready to meet her Master, and looking to the comfort of the Holy Mother saying, "Madonna! Madonna!" (that is, "Our Lady! Our Lady!").

Beatified in 1992 and canonized in 2000, Pope John Paul II praised her for "leaving us a message of reconciliation and evangelic forgiveness in a world so much divided and hurt by hatred and violence. She, that was the victim of the worst injuries of all times, namely slavery, herself declared: 'If I was to meet those slave raiders that abducted me and those who tortured me, I'd kneel down to them to kiss their hands, because, if it had not been for them, I would not have become a Christian and religious woman'."

Saint Josephine Bakhita endured constant suffering and fear for most of her young life. She ached for the Lord, whom she lovingly referred to as “the Master,” even before she knew of Him. Throughout her life she practiced humility, forgiveness, and great love. She was fond of saying, “The Lord has loved me so much: we must love everyone… we must be compassionate!” reminding us of our duty to reflect the love of Christ throughout the world. Today, as we remember this brave and loving woman, we think about those people we struggle to forgive, the grudges we hold, and the stony places in our hearts. Saint Josephine Bakhita, like Jesus before her, looked at her captors and her persecutors with eyes of forgiveness. Can we say the same for ourselves?

Day 39 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Emancipation of all those enslaved; The ability to forgive those around us; Those struggling under the weight of sin or addition.
Requested Intentions: Priests and leaders of the Church (L).
Special Intentions: Novena to Our Lady of Prompt Succor, for those who are struggling in the face of personal trials and tribulations, unemployment and financial stress, natural disasters (including the poor of Haiti), poverty, war, and exploitation. May Our Lady of Prompt Succor hasten to help us!


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