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 25: Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

Posted by Jacob

"The last thing I ask of you—and I ask it in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—is that you love him alone, that you trust implicitly in him and that you encourage one another continually to suffer for the love of him."

Today, May 25, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi (1566-1607), the “ecstatic saint.” Mystic and visionary, Saint Mary wished for nothing more than to suffer for the love of Christ, and throughout her life was graced with extraordinary ecstasies, raptures, and communion with the Lord. Her life of devotion and suffering was carefully recorded by her Carmelite sisters, and Saint Mary was canonized only sixty years following her death. Pope Benedict XVI wrote: "Sister Mary Magdalene had the gift of living communion with God in an ever more interiorized form, so as to become a model for the whole community, and even today she continues to be thought of as "mother". Purified love, which pulsed through her heart, opened her to the desire for full conformity to Christ, her Spouse, to the point of sharing with Him the 'naked suffering' of the cross."

But Mary Magdalene did not view her ecstasies as proof of holiness. Rather, she saw them as quite the opposite—proof of the existence of a great fault. She told one fellow sister that God did not give this sister the same graces "because you don't need them in order to serve him." In her eyes of this holy woman, God gave these gifts to those who were too weak to become holy otherwise—thus proof to herself that she was unworthy of the Lord. She is a saint because of her lifelong struggle to show love and gratitude to the God who gave her those graces, despite her feelings of doubt and despair.

Born Catherine in Florence, Italy, Mary learned meditation and internal prayer from her priest when she was just nine years old. She spent hours each day in silent meditation, contemplating the Lord, and being drawn further into Him. At the age of ten she made her First Communion, taking a vow of perpetual virginity for the Lord only one month later. At age twelve, she experienced her first ecstasy, while gazing at the sunset, an experience which left her deeply moved.

Drawn to the Eucharist, and wishing to receive it every day, Catherine sought entrance to the contemplative monastery of the Carmelite Order, the monastery of Saint Mary of the Angels. There, the sisters spent their days in prayer and received Communion each day, which was an unusual occurrence in those times. Shortly after entering the monastery, taking the name Mary, she experienced her second ecstasy. Her sisters witnessed her weeping before the crucifix, saying, "O Love, you are neither known nor loved."

Saint Mary soon fell ill, and her sisters feared for her life. The Superior of the Order allowed her to make an early profession, carrying her to the alter of the chapel on a stretcher. Following her profession, she experienced forty consecutive days of ecstasy, joined with her suffering. Joy from the graces provided her by the Lord were mixed with the agony and pain of her illness, which only grew worse. In one of her mystical experiences, Jesus appeared to her, took her heart from her chest, and placed it in His own, telling her he “would not return it until it is wholly pure and filled with love.” Mary did not recover from her illness for nearly three months.

As a safeguard against deception and to preserve the revelations, her confessor asked Mary Magdalene to dictate her experiences to sister secretaries. Over the next six years, five large volumes were filled. The first three books record ecstasies from May of 1584 through Pentecost week the following year. This week was a preparation for a severe five-year trial. The fourth book records that trial and the fifth is a collection of letters concerning reform and renewal. Another book, Admonitions, is a collection of her sayings arising from her experiences in the formation of women religious.

Near the end of the forty days of ecstasy, Jesus appeared to her, offering her a choice: a crown of flowers or a crown of thorns. Mary begged for the crown of thorns, but was repeatedly given the grown of flowers. Given her years of interior prayer, and the personal relationship that had developed with the Lord, she teased and bantered with Him, which shocked her sisters as they recorded her ecstasies (and continues to shock many today). For example, when Jesus once accused her, "I called and you didn't care," Mary quickly answered back, "You didn't call loudly enough" and told him to shout His love.

Following the beauty and grace of the ecstasies, Mary entered a profound period of suffering and despair. Five years of trial were placed before her by the Lord. Jesus told her, “I will take away not the grace but the feeling of grace. Though I will seem to leave you I will be closer to you." Mary was just 19 when this period began, and she acutely felt desolate and sad. She was repelled by prayer and tempted by everything. Her heart, in her own words, was like a “pitch-dark room with only a feeble light shining that only made the darkness deeper.” So desolate was she, her sisters kept watch over her to prevent her from taking her life. Through all, she held onto prayer, penance, and service to her community. Mary’s period of trial ended in ecstasy, when the Lord presented her with the option to receive any gifts she desired. Saint Mary asked for two: to look upon any neighbor as good and holy without judgment, and to always have God’s presence before her.

Throughout all, despite the attention she was granted, and the constant companionship of “sister secretaries” who recorded her ecstasies, Mary remained humble and full of humility. In fact, she was oftentimes embarrassed by her spiritual gifts, and attempted to minimize attention. For example, when the Lord commanded her to go barefoot as penance, she cut the soles of her shoes out, but continued to wear the tops and sides, so as not to drawn attention to herself. When she realized that ecstasy was approaching, she hurried to a quiet place, so as not to create a distraction for her sisters. She even learned to continue her work during ecstasy—sewing and cleaning—so as not to disrupt the community. She was found of saying to novices in the Order, “I wanted a hidden life, but, see, God wanted something quite different for me.”

Saint Mary, throughout her life, served as guide to many of her sisters, as well as popes and leaders of the Church. She wrote many encouraging letters to the clergy, seeking reform, and devotion to the Lord. Her ability to read souls and understand the interior lives of others gave her the opportunity to provide specific and perfect spiritual direction, even when such direction called for blunt commentary on the actions of other.

In 1604, Mary fell ill with headaches, became paralyzed, and was confined to her bed. Her body, from years of supernatural experience, was so sensitive that she could not stand to be touched. Even lying in bed caused intense pain. She suffered for three years in this manner, growing ever more certain that the Lord’s failure to answer her prayers was a sure sign that His will was being done through her. She died at the age of forty-one.

You love those who give themselves completely to Your service,
and You filled Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi
with heavenly gifts and the fire of Your love.
As we honor her today
may we follow her example of purity and charity.
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.

Selected Quotations of Saint Mary Magdalene de Pazzi

”Prayer ought to be humble, fervent, resigned, persevering, and accompanied with great reverence. One should consider that he stands in the presence of a God, and speaks with a Lord before whom the angels tremble from awe and fear.”

“Come, Holy Spirit. Spirit of truth, you are the reward of the saints, the comforter of souls, light in the darkness, riches to the poor, treasure to lovers, food for the hungry, comfort to those who are wandering; to sum up, you are the one in whom all treasures are contained.

Come! As you descended upon Mary that the Word might become flesh, work in us through grace as you worked in her through nature and grace.

Come! Food of every chaste thought, fountain of all mercy, sum of all purity.

Come! Consume in us whatever prevents us from being consumed in you.”

“A little drop of simple obedience is worth a million times more than a whole vase of the choicest contemplation.”

“Trials are nothing else but the forge that purifies the soul of all its imperfections.”

“You will be consoled according to the greatness of your sorrow and affliction; the greater the suffering, the greater will be the reward.”


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