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."

June 16: Saint John Francis Regis

Posted by Jacob

Today, June 16, we celebrate the feast day of Saint John Francis Regis (1597-1640), gifted preacher, tireless confessor, and miracle worker. Referred to as “an angel” while he lived, Saint John Francis is remembered for his obvious and contagious faith, likened to that of the visible Holy Spirit burning within him. Rather than golden words and oratorical skills, Saint John’s life and faith were his tools, converting many and inspiring us even today.

Born in Fontcouverte in Languedoc, France, John Francis was raised in a wealthy noble Catholic family. From an early age, he demonstrated an affinity for holy pursuits, praying and fasting as a child. As early as five years old, Saint John Francis was committed to the Lord, fainting one day upon hearing his mother describe the fate of sinners—eternal damnation and separation from God! When he reached the age of 18, by his request, John Francis was sent to study with the Jesuits at the Jesuit college in Beziers, and one year later, with permission, became a member of the Society of Jesus at Toulouse.

His days in the novitiate were filled with hard work and rigorous study, and Saint John Francis excelled, becoming a model of obedience, faith, and steadfastness. Even so, he had a reputation for being hard on himself and easy on everyone else. His fellow novices were somewhat puzzled, and frequently annoyed by his behaviors, including his tendency to stay up through the night, praying. The novice, with whom he shared a room, commented, 'he vilifies himself beyond measure and he canonizes everyone else.' His roommate further spoke to the rector of the program, concerned that John Francis rarely slept. He said, "Regis seems never to go to bed, he's always on his knees during the night praying." Similarly, such was his love of the Lord, he refused to take the vacation times offered to him by his program of study. During these times set aside for relaxation, John Francis withdrew into private places to converse with God almost the whole day; and in the night, after a short sleep, he arose and stole secretly into the domestic chapel. Observed and reported by a member of the faculty, the rector instructed, “Interrupt not the sweet communications of that angel with God."

John Francis successfully completed his program, inspiring both his fellow seminarians and the faculty, and was ordained in 1630. Despite a plain desire to travel to the new world and minister to the native peoples there, Saint John Francis was retained in Toulouse to minister to victims of the plague. Even obedient, he remained and entered into his mission with such vigor that his superiors were concerned he would contract the disease himself. His young life was preserved by the Lord, however, and Saint John Francis went on to engage in many charitable works with the poor of Toulouse. Through his ministry, many were converted to Christianity, leading the rector to write to the Superior of the Jesuits, "Everybody agrees that Father Regis has a marvelous talent for the Missions." Based upon that recommendation, Saint John Francis was sent to the mission lands of France, where he converted many through his preaching and example of virtuous Christian living.

Saint John Francis Regis spent his days traveling on foot across the French countryside, and through the icy mountains. He stopped and preached to anyone he met, relying on their kindness and support for survival. Not known for a polished style or appearance, his simple method of preaching the Gospel, and his willingness to work for the poor, converted crowds of farmers, workers, and country folk. When his superiors and contemporaries voiced concern about his image, he replied, “The rich never lack confessors.” He lived off apples, black bread, and whatever came to hand, preferring to spend his time preaching, teaching, and hearing confessions. Oftentimes, after preaching all day, he would spend the entire night hearing confessions, with crowds of thousands lining up to spend a moment of spiritual guidance with him. One priest said of him, “I have seen him stand all day on a heap of snow at the top of a mountain preaching, and then spend the whole night hearing confessions.” All who heard him declared, that "Francis preached the word of God as it is in itself; whereas others seemed, in comparison of him, to preach themselves."

Despite his great success in ministry, some of his brethren remained critical of his approach, appearance, and demeanor. On one occasion, it was told him, “Look, these people you are ‘converting’- the conversion won't last.” His answer was, "So what? If I can keep a person from committing one sin that except for my efforts they would have committed, it's worth all my effort.” When he was complimented for his work, Saint John Francis replied “every time God converts a hardened sinner, He is working a far greater miracle.”
When not preaching, Saint John Francis engaged in continuous charitable work, for the improvement of many. He established hostels for prostitutes who wished to reform and leave the business, whom he referred to as “Daughters of Refuge.” He also engaged in preventative work, forming many societies and confraternities dedicated to the Blessed Sacrament. One such group, for example, helped country girls stay away from the cities (and turning to prostitution) by establishing them in the lace making and embroidery trade. Other societies focused on procuring food and aid for prisoners and the poor.

To the wealthier members of his Confraternities of the Blessed Sacrament, he offered the “gift” of a few hungry mouths to feed. In doing so, he would often send notes to those he encountered, instructing and encouraging them in the way of charity and love for others:

“Sir, you will provide food for the poor people who names are listed below, and you will give them six sous for their lodging. If you are unable to provide them with food, you will give them a further six sous so that they may buy it themselves.” This method of instruction proved successful, with even the most resistant members of society deepening their love of the poor and involvement in charitable work.

Again, his contemporaries were aghast at the manner in which he presented himself. Saint John Francis was never afraid to look ridiculous or beg on behalf of those in need. He was told, “Look, you're demeaning yourself [by begging]. It's humiliating.” His simple, and humble response, was, "Well, so much the better. The more humiliation, the more valuable… So that for thirty years I've been telling people, 'you don't practice real charity unless you are ready to be humiliated and often by the person towards whom you're trying to practice charity.’” Often laughed at by those who did not know his intent or the courage and love of his heart, he proudly would proclaim, "With all my heart, we receive a double advantage when we purchase a brother's relief with our own disgrace."

Numerous miracles were reported through his intercession, even while alive, including the healing of a poor widow’s sons after she generously volunteered to mend his ragged cloak during a freezing winter. He further established a granary for the poor which sometimes miraculously refilled to the point that even the door could not be fully opened. Less miraculous, but still quite impressive, Saint John Francis demanded and received treatment for the poor and those unable to pay by doctors, nurses, and pharmacists—all of whom, won over by his fervent faith and model life of virtue, generously donated their time and services

Saint John Francis further engaged in rigorous mortification, which he had begun as a child. Fasting and penance were standard practice, and these did little to dull his bright spirit, patience, and warm disposition. As he returned to the house one evening after a hard day's toil, one of his brothers laughingly asked, "Well, Father Regis, speaking candidly, are you not very tired?" He reportedly laughed as well, stating. "No, I am as fresh as a rose." In repentance for his sins, and those of others, he limited his food intake to milk and a bit of fruit each day, and refused to sleep in a bed—preferring to sleep on the floor of his room.

Saint John Francis spent many of his last days ministering and preaching in the icy mountains at Marthes. On one occasion, while traveling over a dangerous mountain path, the ledge he was crossing gave way, and the saint fell and broke his leg. With the assistance of his companions, he managed to walk the remaining 6 miles to the church he was headed for, and refusing medical help, went straight to the confessional where he heard confessions for most of the night. When he finally allowed a doctor to examine him, his leg had miraculously mended. At age 43, Saint John Francis had a premonition of his death. He spent three days in prayer, made a general confession, and resumed his mission in mountain villages. Despite bad weather, he spent his days preaching, seeking shelter wherever he could at night—oftentimes cold and exposed to the elements. He eventually developed pleurisy and then pneumonia. His last words were “Jesus, my Savior, I recommend my soul to You. Into Your hands I command my spirit.” His relics were interred at Louvesc in the mountains, and remains a site of pilgrimage for the faithful. He was canonized by Pope Clement XII in 1737.

Saint John Francis Regis was so inflamed with the love of the Lord, his every word, breath, and action seemed to cry out to Him. Those who encountered this holy man were changed, drawn closer to the Lord through his example of virtuous living and love. He was not a man of great words, but rather of a simple faith lived loudly for those around him to witness. The profound influence of Saint John Francis Regis reminds us that our actions are just as important as our words—that the way in which we live our everyday life can be a powerful witness to others of the Love of God. Today, we are called to reflect on whether our actions match our words and reflect our beliefs and our faith.


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