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."

August 29: The Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist, Precursor to Christ

Posted by Jacob

11I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (Matthew 11:11)

Today, August 29, we celebrate the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist, the Precursor of Christ, the forerunner of the Son of Justice, the minister of baptism of Jesus. His birth prepared the way for the coming of Our Lord and Savior, for the coming of salvation for all. His death reminds us that the promise of heaven is real, as is the struggle and suffering of this world.

From the Roman Martyrology:

The memorial of the suffering and death of St. John the Baptist, whom King Herod Antipas held in the prison in the citadel of Macheron and, on his birthday, since the daughter of Herodias was making the request, ordered to be beheaded; thus, the Precursor of the Lord, like a bright shining lantern, gave witness to the truth in death as much as he did in life.

I have written about the life of Saint John the Baptist, my confirmation saint, here. He was the cousin of Jesus, son of Zachary and Elizabeth. Saint John began his ministry around age 27, wearing a leather belt and tunic of camel hair, living off locusts and wild honey in the desert. He preached a message of repentance and of anticipation of Christ, and converted and baptized many in the River Jordan. Saint John was the minister of baptism to Jesus, during which the skies opened and Our Heavenly Father proclaimed the Son of God.

Following his baptism of Jesus, John instructed his disciples to follow Christ, and with great humility directed all attention to the Son of God. This period of John’s ministry was of short duration, as he was soon arrested and imprisoned by the Galiliean King, Herod (the son of Herod the Great, who had ordered the slaughter of the Bethlehem infants).

Herod feared John, as he considered him a great prophet, and knew the people revered him. However, his wife, Herodias, wanted John killed. True to the teachings of the Church, Saint John had publicly condemned Herod for marrying his brother’s wife, despite the fact that his brother was still alive. Herodias was incensed by this public condemnation, and insisted the king kill him. To appease her, Herod had John imprisoned, but let him out to preach—himself listening with admiration, and beginning to act upon his words.

Saint John’s imprisonment lasted approximately on year, until Herod through a lavish banquet to celebrate his birthday. Salome, the daughter of Herodias and stepdaughter of Herod, also came to this banquet. She danced for Herod, which pleased him and his guests.

As Saint Mark wrote in his Gospel:

17For Herod himself had given orders to have John arrested, and he had him bound and put in prison. He did this because of Herodias, his brother Philip's wife, whom he had married. 18For John had been saying to Herod, "It is not lawful for you to have your brother's wife." 19So Herodias nursed a grudge against John and wanted to kill him. But she was not able to, 20because Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.

21Finally the opportune time came. On his birthday Herod gave a banquet for his high officials and military commanders and the leading men of Galilee. 22When the daughter of Herodias came in and danced, she pleased Herod and his dinner guests.

The king said to the girl, "Ask me for anything you want, and I'll give it to you." 23And he promised her with an oath, "Whatever you ask I will give you, up to half my kingdom."

24She went out and said to her mother, "What shall I ask for?"

"The head of John the Baptist," she answered.

25At once the girl hurried in to the king with the request: "I want you to give me right now the head of John the Baptist on a platter."

26The king was greatly distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he did not want to refuse her. 27So he immediately sent an executioner with orders to bring John's head. The man went, beheaded John in the prison, 28and brought back his head on a platter. He presented it to the girl, and she gave it to her mother. 29On hearing of this, John's disciples came and took his body and laid it in a tomb. (Mark 6: 17-29)

Saint John the Baptist was the last prophet of the Old Testament, pointing to the coming Christ. He was also the first prophet of the New Testament, pointing to Christ and proclaiming that Jesus was the Savior. He preached a message of repentance and proclaimed Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. For all the times Herod listened to John preaching, he completely missed the point! Rather, for Herod, John was an entertaining distraction whose words were acceptable when convenient, but became burdensome when challenging him to change. We, too, fall victim to this manner of thinking from time to time—knowing what we should do, but finding it too difficult or inconvenient. The martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist, who endured “temporal agonies for the sake of truth” reminds us that we are called to the full redemption of Christ, and as such, are challenged to live in the truth.

Venerable Saint Bede on the Martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist (for full text of homily, previously posted, visit here):

There is no doubt that blessed John suffered imprisonment and chains as a witness to our Redeemer, whose forerunner he was, and gave his life for him. His persecutor had demanded not that he should deny Christ, but only that he should keep silent about the truth. Nevertheless, he died for Christ. Does Christ not say: “I am the truth”? Therefore, because John shed his blood for the truth, he surely died for Christ. Through his birth, preaching and baptizing, he bore witness to the coming birth, preaching and baptism of Christ, and by his own suffering he showed that Christ also would suffer. Such was the quality and strength of the man who accepted the end of this present life by shedding his blood after the long imprisonment. He preached the freedom of heavenly peace, yet was thrown into irons by ungodly men. He was locked away in the darkness of prison, through he came bearing witness to the Light of life and deserved to be called a bright and shining lamp by that Light itself, which is Christ. To endure temporal agonies for the sake of the truth was not a heavy burden for such men as John; rather is was easily borne and even desirable, for he knew eternal joy would be his reward. Since death was ever at hand, such men considered it a blessing to embrace it and thus gain the reward of eternal life by acknowledging Christ’s name. Hence the apostle Paul rightly says: “You have been granted the privilege not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for his sake.” He tells us why it is Christ’s gift that his chosen ones should suffer for him: “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed in us.”

God our Father,
You called John the Baptist
to be the herald of Your Son's birth and death.
As he gave his life in witness to truth and justice,
so may we strive to profess our faith in Your gospel.
Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

For the Litany to Saint John the Baptist, previous posted, visit here.

Inspired by the origins and spiritual history of the Holy Rosary, we continue our meditation on the psalms, one each day, in order, for 150 days.

Psalm: Psalm 126: The People’s Prayer for Full Restoration

1 When the LORD brought back the captives to Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
"The LORD has done great things for them."
3 The LORD has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow in tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 He who goes out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with him.

Day 241 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Lives of Truth.
Requested Intentions: Restoration of a marriage (A); For employment and health of mother (G); Successful employment (M); Restoration of a family, End to brother's addiction, Successful marriage (R); Employment (I); Successful recovery of a mother; for all stroke victims (D); Improved relationship with daughter (P); Restoration of health and successful marriage (A); Health and employment for a friend (G); Restoration of health (M); Answers to prayers (A); Conversion of son and family (S); Successful business, home purchase, health of brother (SJ); Successful delivery of a baby girl (U); Successful return to the faith (A); Emotional, physical, and financial healing (D); Diagnosis and recovery (A); For a successful relationship (J); Those suffering from depression (J); Successful adoption (S); Healing of a father battling cancer (S).
Psalm: Psalm 126: The People’s Prayer for Full Restoration


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