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."

May 17: Saint Paschal Baylon

Posted by Jacob

Today, May 17, marks the feast day of Saint Paschal Baylon (1540-1592), mystic, known for his profound devotion to the Blessed Sacrament. While Saint Paschal never became a priest, he is the saint most often thought of in relation to the Holy Eucharist, and Pope Leo XIII declared him the patron saint of Eucharistic congresses and associations. He wrote, "There is no more efficacious means than this for nourishing and increasing the piety of the people toward this admirable pledge of love which is a bond of peace and of unity."  Among all those most devoted to the Eucharist, Paschal Baylon seemed to the pope to be "the greatest."

Saint Paschal was born on Pentecost in Torre Hermosa, in Arragon, Spain. His parents, poor farmers, were extremely devout, and Paschal appeared marked for holiness from an early age. The first words he spoke, per holy legend, were the names of Jesus and Our Blessed Mother, Mary. As a child, he would spend long hours in prayer, and his parents would, at times, physically carry him from the church. He spent his days in the fields, tending the sheep, earning money for his family. As he was responsible and good at his job, Paschal worked nearly every day, preventing him from receiving any formal education. His solitary job in the fields, however, provided him with ample opportunity for quiet contemplation and prayer, which he embraced. However, Paschal realized the importance of education, and slowly over his 17 years in the fields, taught himself to read with the help of kind strangers and passers by. The book Paschal learned from was a “little book of sayings” about the love of God and Eucharist, and he realized that in strangers teaching him to read, they were growing closer to the Lord in the process. Many of these individuals became repeat tutors, returning to the fields and spending time with Paschal in the presence of the Lord.

Saint Paschal exhibited an ardent love for Christ, and was especially devoted to the Eucharistic Mystery. He traveled from church to church, always on foot, visiting and praying before the Blessed Sacrament, referring to his encounters with “the real presence of Jesus” in these moments. During his prayers, he would often levitate above the floor, so much was his love and zeal for Christ.

Many miracles are attributed to Saint Paschal, including creating fresh-flowing streams by striking the ground, healing, and miraculous charity. Saint Paschal also experienced mystical visions. On one such occasion, while he was out in the fields with his sheep and unable to go to Mass at the nearby monastery, Paschal was waiting for the sound of the Consecration Bell which he always observed in prayer. In his longing to be present at the Holy sacrifice of the Mass, he cried out, “My Master, My adorable Master, Oh that I might see Thee!” Suddenly before him he saw Angels bowed down before a Chalice, with the Blessed Sacrament floating above it. In the Divine Presence of Our Lord, Paschal fell flat on his face and adored God. Then taking courage he gazed upon the beautiful vision.

Wanting to share his vision with the other shepherds he ran to them crying, “Kneel Down! Kneel Down! Do you not see on high the golden Chalice and the bright rays darting from the Host?” and he pointed towards the vision. “It is the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. The Angels are adoring It. Come let us join our adoration to theirs!” The other shepherd fell to their knees in adoration, despite not being able to see what Paschal described. However, they believed him, given his holiness and conviction. Over the course of Paschal’s years in the fields, he was graced with similar opportunities to mystically and miraculously adore the Blessed Sacrament.

When he was 24, having successfully learned to read, Saint Paschal applied to become a lay brother in the Franciscan Order. Upon acceptance, he refused to live in the well-appointed monasteries, seeking the poorest he could find. Paschal was certain that poverty was formative and healing for him, saying, "I was born poor and am resolved to die in poverty and penance."

Saint Paschal was a holy presence for his brothers in the monastery. He worked the most menial jobs without complaint, spent hours a day praying in front of the alter, practiced extreme forms of penance, and performed miracles in their presence. Despite his limited education, he was sought out for counsel by wealthy leaders and the poor alike. He became known for his charity, giving away all that he had, and occasionally needing to be restrained in his charitable excess by his brothers.

Whenever an important message had to be delivered, Saint. Paschal was always given the job. When he went begging for alms in distant places, even though he was tired he would spend the whole night adoring the Blessed Sacrament. Whenever he arrived at a new town, he would always make a stop at the church to visit the Blessed Sacrament. By his report, it was Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, that gave Paschal great wisdom. He was hardly able to read and write but he was able to hold intelligent conversations with learned doctors in theology. Some of the theologians felt that Paschal was inspired by God. The priests of the monastery used to ask his advice about preaching. When the saint spoke about the Birth of Jesus and the Last Supper, it was as though he had been present at these events.

The "servant of the Eucharist," as he was commonly called, died May 17, Pentecost Sunday, in 1592. His tomb at the Royal Chapel in Villareal, Valencia, Spain immediately became the object of innumerable pilgrimages, even by the king and the nobles of Spain. At his funeral Mass, Saint Paschal’s eyes miraculously opened during the Consecration, adoring the Blessed Sacrament even in death. Since his death, strange occurrences have continued to be reported, known as the "Knocks of St. Paschal." At first, the knocks came from Paschal's tomb. Later they came from relics and pictures of the saint. The knocking sound is believed to come as a kind of warning, to let people know that a terrible event was about to take place. It is also said that in Spain and Italy, those who are devoted to Saint Paschal, are warned about their death, days before, so that they may have a chance to receive the Last Sacraments.

Saint Paschal wrote: "Meditate well on this: Seek God above all things. It is right for you to seek God before and above everything else, because the majesty of God wishes you to receive what you ask for. This will also make you more ready to serve God and will enable you to love him more perfectly."

The life of Saint Paschal Baylon is one of simple adoration of the Lord. Saint Paschal recognized the importance of spending time before Our Savior, in contemplation of His passion, love, and sacrifice—in the earthly presence of God. Through his devotion to the Blessed Sacrament, Saint Paschal was graced with wisdom beyond his education, and obedience and charity beyond measure. His life inspires us to greater communion with the Lord, leading us to His spiritual treasures.

God, You filled St. Paschal with a wondrous love for the sacred mysteries of Your Body and Blood. May we draw from this Divine Banquet the same spiritual riches he received. Amen!


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