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."

July 31: Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Posted by Jacob

Take, O Lord, and receive my entire liberty,

my memory, my understanding and my whole will.
All that I am and all that I possess You have given me.
I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace;
with these I will be rich enough,
and will desire nothing more.

Today, July 31, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), founder of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuit Order), and author of the “Spiritual Exercises.” Saint Ignatius was a true mystic. He centered his spiritual life on the essential foundations of Christianity—the Trinity, Jesus Christ, and the Eucharist. His spirituality is expressed in the Jesuit motto, ad majorem Dei gloriam—“for the greater glory of God.” He was a man who recognized that ordinary gifts can be used in spectacular ways by God, when an individual allows the Master Artist to use His powers and creativity in them. Saint Ignatius of Loyola is remembered for saying the words to those in his spiritual direction: "Go forth and set the world on fire."

Born Iñigo de Recalde de Loyola, Ignatius grew up in Loyola Castle, Azpeitia, Guipuzcoa, Spain. The youngest of twelve children, at age sixteen he was sent to Castile where he served as a page at the court of the provincial governor. There, he developed a taste for the fine things that royal court life had to offer, including gambling, which he pursued with abandon. Taken with wearing the uniform of the royal soldier, Ignatius enlisted in the army of the Duke of Nagara. Having served well in the army, he was promoted to officer, and led his troops well. At the siege of Pamplona in 1521, he was seriously injured by a cannon ball hitting his legs, breaking one and wounding the other. His convalescence lasted nearly a year, after which time he miraculously recovered, although would walk with a painful limp for the remainder of his life. During that time, out of desperation and boredom, Ignatius read about the life of Jesus and other lives of the saints. "Since these men were as human as I am," he noted, "I could be as saintly as they were."

There, in his convalescent bed, Ignatius began the process of conversion, examining both his intellect, but also his emotional reactions to the call of the Holy Spirit. One night as he lay awake, as his autobiography recounts, he "saw clearly the image of Our Lady with the Holy Child Jesus, at whose sight for a notable time he felt a surpassing sweetness, which eventually left him with such a loathing for his past sins, and especially for those of the flesh, that every unclean imagination seemed blotted out from his soul, and never again was there the least consent to any carnal thought." Leaving his worldly desires for fame and love behind, Ignatius strove to live a life worth of sainthood.

After his recovery, instead of re-enlisting as a soldier, Saint Ignatius traded his uniform for the clothing of a beggar. He traveled to Montserrat in Barcelona, visiting the famous portrait of Our Blessed Mother in the Benedictine monastery, and there he hung his sword before her according to the rules of chivalry. He would serve to defend her honor, and by extension, the honor of the Church, with his life.

Ignatius spent the next year living wherever he could—at the monastery, dependent on the kindness of monks; in shelters for the indigent; mostly in a cave near a place called Manresa. During the year, he spent his time in contemplation of Christ, deep prayer, fasting and mortification, and discipline. It was here beside the cave that Saint Ignatius received what he referred to as both a “vision” and an “awakening.” While he never revealed the content of the vision, it seems to have been an encounter with God as He really is so that all creation was seen in a new light and acquired a new meaning and relevance, and experience that enabled Ignatius to find God in all things one of the characteristics of Jesuit spirituality. His year at the cave near Manresa was also a time of great trial for him, and he began writing his most famous work, the Spiritual Exercises-- a manual for training the soul to grow nearer to God.

Drawn to the Holy Land, Ignatius began a pilgrimage to Rome and to Jerusalem, riding from Jaffa to Jerusalem on a donkey. While he wished to remain in the Holy City, anti-Christian sentiment drove him out, and he returned to Europe. There, he undertook a rigorous study of theology and classics in Spanish and French universities, so that he might enter the priesthood. Ending his studies in Paris, upon ordination as priest, Ignatius, along with six students, founded the great Society of Jesus, more commonly known as the Jesuits.

During this time, he was imprisoned in Salamanca on suspicion of heresy. To a friend who expressed sympathy for his imprisonment, Ignatius wrote: “It is a sign that you have little love of Christ in your heart, or you would not deem it so hard a fate to be in chains for His sake. All Salamanca does not contain as many fetters, manacles, and chains as I would gladly wear for love of Jesus Christ.”

The early members of the Jesuit order took vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, joining themselves to the Lord through the Spiritual Exercises. In the rules established for his order, obedience was to be the prominent virtue, to assure the effectiveness and mobility of his men. All activity was to be guided by a true love of the Church and unconditional obedience to the Holy Father, for which reason all members took a fourth vow to go wherever the pope should send them for the salvation of souls. While Ignatius most wished to return to Palestine to preach Christianity to the peoples there, war prevented this. Out of obedience to Pope Paul III, members of the order were sent throughout Europe, and Ignatius, elected Superior General, remained behind, building the order, establishing universities, hospitals, and centers of service to the poor, sick, and needy. During this time, the Jesuits grew from a handful of men to over 1,000 throughout Europe, working as missionaries and in universities and other schools.

Luis Gonçalves de Camara, one of his closest associates wrote of him, “Ignatius was always rather inclined toward love; moreover, he seemed all love, and because of that he was universally loved by all. There was no one in the Society who did not have much great love for him and did not consider himself much loved by him.”

Toward the end of his life, Ignatius was plagued by stomach ailments, intense pain in his legs, and near blindness—all of which he bore without complaint. Saint Ignatius died of a fever on July 31, 1556, with the name of Jesus on his lips. His relics are buried in the Church of the Gésu in Rome, at the center of Jesuit institutions of education and formation to this day. His accomplishments, left both in his writings, and in the continuing work of the Jesuits, survive him. Saint Ignatius took a group of ordinary men, put them under the power of God, taught them how to listen to His voice, and formed a new sword for the Church of unequalled sharpness and strength. The daring projects of the Jesuits were carefully considered, using the virtue of prudence or wisdom, before drawing upon an almost superhuman courage and endurance to implement the designs they believed were planned by God. Saint Ignatius was willing to risk all, suffer, and deny himself to obediently follow the will of God. We, like the Jesuits, pray today to have the strength to listen for the Will of God, and to find Him in all aspects of His glorious creation!

Selected Quotations of Saint Ignatius of Loyola:

"God freely created us so that we might know, love, and serve him in this life and be happy with him forever. God's purpose in creating us is to draw forth from us a response of love and service here on earth, so that we may attain our goal of everlasting happiness with him in heaven.

All the things in this world are gifts of God, created for us, to be the means by which we can come to know him better, love him more surely, and serve him more faithfully.

As a result, we ought to appreciate and use these gifts of God insofar as they help us toward our goal of loving service and union with God. But insofar as any created things hinder our progress toward our goal, we ought to let them go."

"Act as if everything depended on you; trust as if everything depended on God."
“Let us work as if success depended upon ourselves alone, but with heartfelt conviction that we are doing nothing, and God everything.”
“There are very few people who realize what God would make of them if they abandoned themselves into his hands, and let themselves be formed by his grace.”

“If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint. And if you wish to become a great saint, entreat Him yourself to give you much opportunity for suffering; for there is no wood better to kindle the fire of holy love than the wood of the cross, which Christ used for His own great sacrifice of boundless charity."

From the beginning of the Spiritual Exercises:

The First Principle and Foundation

The goal of our life is to live with God forever.
God who loves us, gave us life.
Our own response of love allows God's life to flow into
us without limit.
All the things in this world are gifts of God,
presented to us so that we can know God more easily
and make a return of love more readily.
As a result, we appreciate and use all of these gifts of God
insofar as they help us develop as loving persons.
But if any of these gifts become the center of our lives,
they displace God
and so hinder our growth toward our goal.
In everyday life, then, we must hold ourselves in balance
before all of these created gifts insofar as we have a choice
and are not bound by some obligation.
We should not fix our desires on health or sickness,
wealth or poverty, success or failure, a long life or short one.
For everything has the potential of calling forth in us
a deeper response to our life in God.
Our only desire and our one choice should be this:
I want and I choose what better
leads to the deepening of God's life in me.

Prayer of Saint Ignatius Loyola

Teach us, Good Lord,
To Serve Thee as Thou deservest;
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To labor and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do Thy will.
Through Jesus Christ Our Lord, Amen.


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