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 22: Saint Maurice and the Martyrs of the Theban Legion

Posted by Jacob

Today, September 22, we celebrate the feast of Saint Maurice (died 287), Martyr of the Church, and the Martyrs of the Theban Legion. This group of over 6600 Roman soldiers, led and inspired by Saint Maurice, were summarily executed for failing to sacrifice to idols and cut down unarmed Christians. The heroic deaths of Rome’s only all-Christian legion, based out of Thebes, is testament to the faith of each individual man, as well as the growing conviction of the Christian Church (and willingness to stand up to persecution and oppression) in the late third and early fourth centuries. We are inspired today by that conviction and sacrifice, to take stock of the role our own individual faith plays in our lives.

The story of Theban Legion has been preserved for us by Saint Eucher, the bishop of Lyons, who died in 494 AD. The bishop started the account of the martyrdom of these valiant soldiers by the following introduction: "Here is the story of the passion of the holy Martyrs who have made Aguanum [modern day Saint Maurice-en-Valais in Switzerland, where the martyrdom took place] illustrious with their blood. It is in honor of this heroic martyrdom that we narrate with our pen the order of events as it came to our ears. We often hear, do we not, a particular locality or city is held in high honor because of one single martyr who died there, and quite rightly, because in each case the saint gave his precious soul to the most high God. How much more should this sacred place, Aguanum, be reverenced, where so many thousands of martyrs have been slain, with the sword, for the sake of Christ.”

Under Emperor Maximian (a colleague of Dicletian, famous for his persecution of Christians), the Roman army was called to march against an uprising of the Gauls. Included in the detachment was the Theban Legion, recruited from upper Egypt and consisting entirely of Christians. They were good men and soldiers who, even under arms, did not forget to “give to God the things of God, and to Caesar the things of Caesar.”

After the revolt was quelled, the Emperor Maximian issued an order that the whole army should join offering sacrifices for the Roman gods for the success of their mission. The order included killing Christians (probably as a sacrifice to the Roman gods). Only the Theban Legion dared to refuse to comply with such an order. The legion withdrew itself, encamped near Aguanum and refused to take part in these rites.

When these news of their disobeying his orders reaching Maximian, he again (and repeatedly) commanded them to offer sacrifice. And again, the unit—all 6000 men—steadfastly refused. Enraged, he ordered that the legion be “decimated”—that is, every tenth man be selected and summarily executed. Following this initial wave of martyrdom, the unit remained faithful to the Lord, and a second "decimation" was ordered. Again, they refused to participate in the pagan sacrifice and idolatry. After the second wave of martyrdom, the emperor warned that every last man would be put to death unless they followed orders.

Throughout this exchange, the captain of the unit, Saint Maurice (often depicted as a Black man, presumably from Egypt), maintained the faith and morale of his troops. He fired the hearts of the soldiers with the fervor and faith by his encouragement. Maurice, calling attention to the example of their faithful fellow soldiers, already martyrs, persuaded them all to be ready to die for the sake of their baptismal vow-- to renounce Satan and his abominable service and to worship only God. He reminded them of their comrades who had gone to heaven before them. At his words, a glorious eagerness for martyrdom burned in their hearts.

Inspired by the faith of their leader, the Theban legion sent to Maximian a reply to his threat to kill every last man. Their letter simply read:

"Emperor, we are your soldiers but also the soldiers of the true God. We owe you military service and obedience, but we cannot renounce Him who is our Creator and Master, and also yours even though you reject Him. In all things which are not against His law, we most willingly obey you, as we have done hitherto. We readily oppose your enemies whoever they are, but we cannot stain our hands with the blood of innocent people (Christians). We have taken an oath to God before we took one to you, you cannot place any confidence in our second oath if we violate the other (the first). You commanded us to execute Christians, behold we are such. We confess God the Father the creator of all things and His Son Jesus Christ, God. We have seen our comrades slain with the sword, we do not weep for them but rather rejoice at their honor. Neither this, nor any other provocation have tempted us to revolt. Behold, we have arms in our hands, but we do not resist, because we would rather die innocent than live by any sin.''

Maximian, realizing that their commitment to the Lord was too great to sway, ordered the remainder of the men to be executed. When the soldiers sent to carry out the sentence found the legion—still numbering over 5000 strong—they were met with no resistance. The soldiers had laid down their arms and removed their upper armor to bare their necks. Without complaint, they each submitted to the sword, receiving the crown of martyrdom.

Saint Maurice became a patron saint of the Holy Roman Emperors. In 926, Henry I (919–936), ceded the present Swiss canton of Aargau to the Abbey of Saint Maurice-en-Valais, in return for Saint Maurice's lance, sword, and spurs. These relics were used at the coronations of the Holy Roman, and were among the most important insignia of the imperial throne. Many emperors were anointed before the altar of Saint Maurice in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

In 961, Emperor Otto the Great built and enriched the cathedral at Magdeburg in preparation for his own tomb. In that year, in the presence of all of the nobility, on the vigil of Christmas, the body of St. Maurice was conveyed to Emperor Otto at Regensburg along with the bodies of some of the saint's companion legionaries. They were then conveyed to Magdeburg, received with great honor and are still venerated there.

From the Golden Legend:

Maurice was duke of the right holy legion of Thebans. They were named Thebans, of Thebes their city. And that region is in the parts of the East beyond the parts of Arabia, and it is full of richesses, plenteous of fruit, delectable of trees. The indwellers of that region be of great bodies and noble in arms, strong in battle, subtle in engine, and right abundant in wisdom. And this city had a hundred gates, of which is said this verse: Ecce vetus Thebea centum jacet obruta portis; that is to say: The town of Thebes with a hundred gates right strong is now overthrown. To them James the brother of our Lord preached the gospel of our Lord. In that time Diocletian and Maximian, emperors, would have utterly destroyed the faith of our Lord Jesu Christ, and sent such epistles unto all the provinces where Christian men dwelt. If anything behooved to be determined or to be known, and all the world were assembled on that one party, and Rome alone were of that one party, all the world should be as vanquished and overcome, and Rome only should abide in the highness of science. And wherefore then, ye that be not but a little people, and contrary to the commandment of her, refuse ye so follily the establishments of the city of Rome? Wherefore receive ye the faith of the gods immortal, or else sentence irrevocable of damnation shall be pronounced against you. And then the Christian people received these letters, and sent again their messengers all void without answer. And then Diocletian and Maximian, moved by great ire and wrath, sent unto all the provinces and commanded that they should come to Rome ready in arms of battle for to discomfit all the rebels of the empire of Rome. Then the letters of the emperors were sent and directed to the Thebans, which people after the commandment of God, they rendered to God that was due to him, and to the Cæsar that was longing to him. Then assembled this chosen legion of knights, that is to wit six thousand six hundred and sixty-six knights, and were sent to the emperor for to help in their just and lawful battles, and not to bear arms against Christian men, but rather to defend them. And the noble man, Maurice, was duke of this holy legion; and they that governed under him, which bare the banners, were named Saint Candidus, Saint Innocent, Saint Exsuperius, Saint Victor, and Saint Constantine, all these were captains.

Diocletian then sent against the Frenchmen, Maximian, which he had made fellow with him in the empire, and delivered to him great strength without number, and adjoined to him the legion of Thebans. And they had been exhorted of Marcel, the pope, that they should rather suffer death than to corrupt the faith of Jesu Christ. And when this great host without number had passed the mountains and came beneath, the emperor commanded that all they that were with him should sacrifice to the idols, and on them that would not, they should swear to run upon them as rebels, to be destroyed, and specially on Christian men. And when the holy knights heard that, they departed from the host eight miles farther, and took there a certain place delectable, by the river of Rhone, which was named Aganum. And when Maximian knew it, he sent knights to them, and commanded that they should come hastily unto the sacrifices of the gods with the other; and they answered that they might not so do because they held the faith of Jesu Christ. And then the emperor, embraised with ire, said: The injury celestial is meddled with my despite, and the religion Roman is despised with me. Now shall each contumacious knight feel not only for me, but to avenge my gods. Then Cæsar commended his knights that they should go and constrain them to do sacrifice to the gods, or else they should slay always the tenth man. Then the holy saints stretched their heads with joy, and hasted that one tofore that other to come to the death. And after, Saint Maurice arose up and said to his fellows among other things: Enjoy ye with us, and I thank you, for we be all ready for to die for the faith of Jesu Christ. We have suffered our fellow knights to be slain, and I have suffered your fellows to suffer death for Jesu Christ, and I have kept the commandment of God which said to Peter: Put thy sword into the sheath. But now, because that we be enclosed with the bodies of the knights our fellows, and have our clothes red of their blood, let us then follow them by martyrdom. And if it please you, let us send this answer unto Cæsar: We be thy knights, sir emperor, and have taken arms to the defense of the common weal; in us is no treason ne dread, but in no wise we will forsake the law ne faith of Jesu Christ. And when the emperor heard that, he commanded to behead yet the tenth man of them. And when that was done, one of the bannerers, named Exsuperius, took the banner and stood among them and said: Our glorious duke Maurice hath spoken of the glory of our fellow knights; ne think not that I take arms for to resist such things, but let our right hands cast away such fleshly arms, and let us arm us with virtues. And if it please you, let us remand unto the emperor such words: We be knights of thine empire, but we confess us to be servants of Jesu Christ; we owe unto thee chivalry, and unto him innocence, and of thee we attend the reward of our labor, and of him we have the beginning of life. And we be ready to receive for him all torments, and we shall not depart from his faith.

Then Cæsar commanded that his host should environ all that legion of knights, so that none should escape. Then were environed the knights of Jesu Christ with knights of the devil, that one of them should not escape, and were all to-hewn, and smitten off heads and hands, and trodden under the feet of the horses, and were sacred martyrs of Christ. And they suffered death in the year of our Lord two hundred and eighty. Nevertheless there escaped some by the will of our Lord, and came into other regions, and preached the name of Jesu Christ, and had in other places victory of martyrdom. And it is said that Solutor and Adventor and Octavius went unto Turin, and Alexander to Pergamos, Secundus unto Ventimiglia, and Victor, Constantine, and Ursin and others escaped. And when the butchers divided the prey amongst them, and ate together, they saw an old man named Victor pass forth by, and they bade him come and eat with them, and he began to demand them how they might eat with joy among so many men slain and dead. And when he had heard that they were Christian men, sighing he wailed greatly, and said he had been well blessed if he had been slain with them. And when they apperceived that he was a Christian man, they anon ran upon him and slew him.

After this, Maximian at Milan and Diocletian at Nicomedia in one day forsook their purple clothing and laid it down for to lead a more simple life, and they that were younger, as Constantine, Maximian, and Galerian, whom they had ordained Cæsarians, should govern the empire. And as Maximian would again reign and command as a tyrant, he was pursued of Constantius, his step-son, and finished his life by hanging. And after this the holy body of Innocent, one of that legion which had been cast in the river of Rhone, was found, and by Domitian of Genanence and Gratus of Autun and Prothase, of the same bishops, in their church is honorably buried.

And there was a paynim, a workman that wrought to make the church with others, but he wrought not but on the Sundays in the time when men sang and made solemnity of masses in the said church; and there came to him a company of saints which ravished him, and beat him, and also reproved him, because he wrought in masonry when others did the divine service and office in the church, and then, he so corrected, ran to the church, to the bishop, and required to be christened. And Ambrose saith thus of these martyrs in his preface: The company of these true Christian men enlumined with divine light, coming from the farther ends of the world, which were armed with spiritual arms, and hied to their martyrdom with stable faith and diligent constancy, whom the cruel tyrant for to fear them tithed two times by the slaughter of the sword, and after, he seeing them constant in the faith, commanded them all to have their heads smitten off. But they burned in so great charity that they cast and threw away their arms and harness, and kneeling on their knees received sufferably with a joyous heart the swords of them that martyred them, among whom Maurice, embraced in the love and faith of Jesu Christ, received the crown of martyrdom.

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

Psalm: Psalm 150: Final Doxology with Full Orchestra

1 Praise the LORD.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
2 Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
3 Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
4 praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and flute,
5 praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
6 Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Praise the LORD.

Day 265 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Comittment to Our Lord and Savior; Grace and Strength to live our faith.
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 150: Final Doxology with Full Orchestra


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