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."

September 17: Saint Robert Bellarmino, Doctor of the Church

Posted by Jacob

“Charity is that with which no man is lost, and without which no man is saved.”

Today, September 17, we celebrate the feast of Saint Roberto Francesco Romolo Cardinale Bellarmino (1542-1621), Doctor of the Church. Saint Robert preached the truth—a truth that proved to cause him difficulties during his lifetime, bringing many to the Lord, but angering secular leaders. Considered for the papacy, Saint Robert was made a cardinal, and based upon his prolific writing, named a Doctor of the Church following his death. His legacy in writings remain for us to learn from today.

Born at Montepulciano, Italy, to an impoverished noble family, Robert was the third of ten children. His mother, Cinzia Cervini, a niece of Pope Marcellus II, was dedicated to almsgiving, prayer, meditation, fasting, and mortification of the body—penitential practices that she instilled in her young son. He followed in her saintly footsteps, placing his life before the Lord at a young age.

At the age of 18, Robert entered the newly formed Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and was ordained ten years later. At that time, the study of Church history and the fathers of the Church was in a sad state of neglect. An outstanding scholar, and devoted servant of God, Robert devoted his energy to these two subjects, as well as to Scripture, in order to systematize Church doctrine against the attacks of the Protestant Reformers. In 1570 he became the first Jesuit to teach at Louvain where he became famous for his Latin sermons. In 1576, he was appointed to the chair of controversial theology at the Roman College, becoming Rector in 1592. Robert went on to become Provincial of Naples in 1594 and later Cardinal in 1598. Saint Robert served as Theologian to Pope Clement VIII from 1597 to 1599 and became the examiner of bishops and consultor of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition in 1597. He was strongly invested in Church reform, holding the clergy—particularly bishops—to high standards of discipline. Saint Robert lived an austere life in Rome while serving each of these posts, giving most of his money to the poor. At one point he used the tapestries in his living quarters to clothe the poor, saying that “the walls won’t catch cold.”

Saint Robert used his scholarly aptitude to defend the Holy See against those that stood to gain from its attack—both from within and without the Church establishment. He composed an exhaustive apologetic work against the prevailing heretics of his day. In the field of church-state relations, he took a position based on principles now regarded as fundamentally democratic - authority originates with God, but is vested in the people, who entrust it to fit rulers. This only served to anger many leaders of the time—including King James I of England.

Saint Robert was the spiritual father of Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, helped Saint Francis de Sales obtain formal approval of the Visitation Order, and in his prudence opposed severe action in the case of Galileo—whom he had befriended and engaged in a series of friendly correspondence with. Rather than condemn Galileo’s work, Saint Robert demonstrated a keen mind and interest in the science that others had labeled contrary to the Bible. He has left us a host of important writings, including works of devotion and instruction, as well as controversy.

Saint Robert’s most famous work is The Controversies, a collection of the lectures he delivered at the Roman College. In it he set out the teaching of the Fathers, the Councils and the Church Law to victoriously defend the dogmas attacked by the Protestants. Clear, balanced, and forceful, this work is so well done that many considered it insuperable. When it was published, it raised as much joy among Catholics as hatred among the Church’s enemies. Theodore of Baise, a Protestant leader, used to say: “This is the work that defeated us.” Given the number of conversions for which it was responsible, reading it was forbidden under penalty of death in England by Queen Elizabeth. Only doctors of theology were permitted to read it.

In addition to disputing the heretics, he also wanted to prevent the faithful from falling into their errors. For this purpose he wrote his remarkable little catechism, A Summary of Christian Doctrine, which he used to teach the children and simple lay people, even when he was very busy with other pressing matters. Among his many other works, at the end of his life he wrote his spiritual notes, which form five small ascetic treatises. The last of these works is called The Art of Dying Well.

Cardinal Bellarmino always maintained a Jesuit spiritual life, and used the annual retreat, which he extended to 30-days per year, as an opportunity to write books on spirituality. As he progressed into his 70s, he asked the Holy Father for permission to retire and return to live in the Jesuit novitiate of San Andrea in Rome. Both Paul V and his successor, Gregory XV, refused to allow him to leave their service because they so valued his presence. Eventually Pope Gregory relented, and the Jesuit cardinal moved into the novitiate only days before contracting a fever from which he never recovered. The simple funeral he had requested became, by order of the pope, something much more elaborate as testimony to someone whose service to the Church had been outstanding. His body was transferred in 1923 to the church of Saint Ignatius, where it resides today, venerated in a glass coffin.

From On the Ascent of the Mind to God by Saint Robert Bellarmino:

“Sweet Lord, you are meek and merciful.” Who would not give himself wholeheartedly to your service, if he began to taste even a little of your fatherly rule? What command, Lord, do you give your servants? “Take my yoke upon you,” you say. And what is this yoke of yours like? “My yoke,” you say, “is easy and my burden light.” Who would not be glad to bear a yoke that does no press hard but caresses? Who would not be glad for a burden that does not weigh heavy but refreshes? And so you were right to add: “And you will find rest for your souls.” And what is this yoke of yours that does not weary, but gives rest? It is, of course, that first and greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart.” What is easier, sweeter, more pleasant, than to love goodness, beauty, and love, the fullness of which you are, O Lord, my God?” Is it not true that you promise those who keep your commandments a reward more desirable than great wealth and sweeter than honey? You promise a most abundant reward, for as your apostle James says: “The Lord has prepared a crown of life for those who love him.” What is this crown of life? It is surely a greater good than we can conceive of or desire, as Saint Paul says, quoting Isaiah: “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has it so much as dawned on man what God has prepared for those who love him.”

The life of Saint Robert Bellarmino was one of study, devotion to the Lord, and unflinching truth-telling. Never backing away from the Word of the Lord, this brilliant Jesuit lived in an age of great deflection within the church amidst religious controversy. His writings, intelligence, and character served the church at a time that was most needed. Today, during a period when the beliefs of the Church are attacked from all sides, we are called upon to follow in Saint Robert’s footsteps, never straying from the truth, and defending the faith with our prayers and works.

God our Father,
you gave Robert Bellarmine wisdom and goodness
to defend the faith of your Church.
By his prayers
may we always rejoice in the profession of our faith.
We ask 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.

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 145: The Greatness and Goodness of God

1 Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.

Day 259 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Lives of Truth.
Requested Intentions: Restoration of a relationship (H); For successful employment (I); For a daughter’s successful relationship (M); For a relationship sanctified by God (M); For health of father; For canonization of Pope John Paul II (A); For the conversion of a family (L); For the ill (A); For the health of a family (I); For a father’s successful surgery and recovery (G); For those who are ill, and their caretakers (D); For the safety of a sister who is traveling (A); Recovery of mother with cancer (R); Successful acquisition of a visa (T); 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); 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 145: The Greatness and Goodness of God


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