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 8: Saint William of York

Posted by Jacob

The saint we celebrate today, on June 8, reminds us (much like yesterday’s saint, Robert of Newminster), that the lives of saints are oftentimes difficult, filled with struggle, suffering, and even injustice. Saint William of York (died 1154), by all accounts a pious man, was ill-treated by his brothers in faith during his life, but remained steadfast in his faith in the Lord, his love and forgiveness to those around him, and his gentleness and charity.

Saint William’s life started out rather privileged. Born into nobility, son of Count Herbert (treasurer to Henry I) and Emma (half sister of King Stephen), he was ordained a priest, and appointed to various positions within the Church at an early age. It is likely, given his lineage and connections, that his appointments were somewhat political in nature, although historians also agree upon his qualifications, piety, and successful shepherding of both his congregation and communities. Saint William was appointed canon of Weighton, and archdeacon of Riding, as well as treasurer of the Cathedral of York. He was, at that point, appointed Archbishop of York, but his appointment was strongly opposed by local clergy, including the acting archdeacon. William was accused of bribery, sexual incontinence, and a host of other sins, leading Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, acting upon information supplied by his Cistercian monks, to report to the pope that Wiliam was ‘rotten from the soles of his feet to the crown of his head.’

Despite unwavering belief and trust in Saint William, the Archbishop of Canterbury was reluctant to consecrate William as Archbishop, and sent word to Rome, awaiting papal approval and review. Pope Innocent III, despite having received complaints and accusations, agreed to proceed with the consecration, and William became Archbishop of York in 1143.

Unfortunately, Pope Innocent died soon thereafter, and the papal legate carrying William’s official bishop’s pallium (signifiying the authority of Rome) returned home. Without the pallium, William’s authority was greatly compromised, and his adversaries again sought to have him deposed. The newly elected pope, Pope Eugenius III (himself a Cistercian) ordered William suspended, and eventually deposed following a violent attack on monks and the burning of the monastery at Fountains. While William was not responsible for these actions, it had become clear that his appointment was causing significant (and now violent) disruption to the religious lives of those living in the diocese of York.

Through the ordeal of his public humiliation and deposition, Saint William remained conciliatory, kind, and humble. He persisted in his ministry until he was unable to do so, at which point he humbly took up residence at a monastery in Winchester, living as a monk for six years, and spending his days in prayer, rigorous fasting, and bodily mortification.

Upon the death of the Archbishop of York (who had replaced him) and Pope Eugenius III, William appealed to the newly elected Pope, Anastasius IV, and was reinstated as Archbishop of York in 1154. He returned humbly to his post, but was greeted by a triumphant crowd of laity whom had never doubted his piety, leadership, or holiness. Such was their numbers that the bridge over the River Ouse on which they stood collapses. Miraculously, no one was injured, which was taken as a sign of the Lord’s pleasure with Saint William’s return. St. William, finally having received the pallium, showed great kindness and forgiveness to the Cistercians who had opposed him, and promised full restitution to Fountains Abbey.

Sadly, Saint William died within a few weeks to months of his return to York. Allegations of poisining by his rivals (slipped into the Holy Eucharistic chalice) were made, although investigations were proven inconclusive. He was buried at the Cathedral of York, and shortly thereafter, a sweet-smelling oil began emmaniating from his tomb. Numerous miracles were reported, and many made piligrimage to visit his place of rest. An investigation of his life, led by the Cistercians (who had been his strongest detractors), proved his innocence of all the sins he had been accused of, and William was canonized by Pope Honorius III.

William’s life was certainly not easy. Putting ourselves in his shoes, it seems as if spite and anger and resentment would be normal reactions to the injustices and ill-treatment that he received. Nevertheless, Saint William remained steadfast and loving, preaching and practicing forgiveness, and focusing his attention on the Lord and His will. We might, in the midst of our busy schedules, pause and consider the implications on our own lives, the perceived injustices we suffer, the grudges we hold, the ease with which we are distracted from the will of the Lord for each of us.

St. William, you were chosen by God to be Archbishop of York, but were unjustly accused of sin. You were election was opposed by many in favor of another. Even through all this, you never took your eyes off of Christ and His will for you. You devoted yourself to a life of prayer and mortification. After many years, you were finally restored to the See that was rightfully yours. Instead of reserving spite, you showed the utmost amount of forgiveness and love for those who had before been in opposition to your election. Please help us to follow your example of perseverance and forgiveness so that we may forgive our transgressors and always persevere in the Lord’s will. Amen.

From the famed Saint William of York stained glass window at York Minster:


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