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."

August 17: Saint Joan of the Cross

Posted by Jacob

Today, August 17, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Joan of the Cross (Saint Jeanne Delanoue, 1666-1736), a holy woman who gave up her business in service to the poor and needy, following an encounter with a beggar. Joan remained open to the message of God, seeing in the poor woman she encountered the personage of Christ, giving all she had in service, and founding the order of the Congregation of Saint Anne of Providence to continue her charitable mission.

Saint Joan was born the youngest of twelve children in Saumur, France. Her parents, who identified as Catholic, were not especially devout, and the faith was presented to Joan as a part of life, rather than a mystery to behold and contemplate. The family worked long hours as shopkeepers, supporting the 14 members of the household as best they could. Joan’s mother, however, was also generous, giving alms and food to any beggars who came to the door of the shop.

Joan followed the rote Catholic “rules” she learned from her parents and in school as best she could—and was noted from a young age to exceed the expectations of her parents, instructors, and religious in this regard. But, by her own recounting, there was little feeling or faith involved in this meticulous approach to religion—rather, she was simply following rules, quite detached from their meaning.

At age 25, Joan’s mother died, and Joan inherited the house and shop of her parents. She began a partnership with her seventeen year old niece who shared the same name, the same looks, and the same interest in making money. As the family shop was located near a Shrine dedicated to Our Blessed Mother, the first thing Joan did was open the shop on Sundays and Feast days, to take advantage of the steady stream of pilgrims visiting. She also began refusing the same beggars that her mother had helped for many years, saying to them, “I have nothing to give you.”

Joan’s approach to life, centered upon her business and acquiring the fineries of the world, continued until the eve the feast of Epiphany when she was to encounter a “simple” beggar woman who had the habit of telling others what the Lord wanted of them. Contrary to character, Joan took pity on this country beggar woman and invited her to stay in her home while visiting the nearby shrine. During her stay, she said many unnerving things to Joan, including, “God sent me this first time to learn the way,” and then specifically to Joan, “Learn the way!”

Following her visit, Joan couldn’t get the messages out of her head. Not convinced that this woman was delivering a message from the Lord—after all, she could simply be mentally disturbed—Joan sought out spiritual direction from the local pastor. Not receiving what she needed, she traveled throughout the countryside, finding a priest at the local state-run hospital. He quickly instructed her to close her shop on Sundays and Feast Days, and instructed her in the art of penance and fasting.

Not long after, the beggar woman was back, and she sought out Joan. She indicated that Lord had told her there was a plan for her. From the beggar woman, Joan came to understand that she was to serve the poor, and that her judgment at the end of her life would be based upon her care for those in need. She immediately began to give away her fine possessions. Approximately two weeks later, this change in Joan’s approach to life was confirmed in a vision. Her niece found her in ecstasy one morning, which lasted three days and nights. What she saw was a clear call that she was to serve the poor, that she would have others join her, that Father Geneteau—the priest from the state hospital- would be her director, and that Our Lady would be her guide.

Following guidance from the beggar, Joan traveled to Saint-Florent (about 91 miles away), and began to care for the poor children of that area. Returning to Saumur, she converted her shop into a lodging facility for the poor and homeless, especially children, which she quickly expanded to accommodate more. Over time, young women joined she and her niece, and began calling themselves the Sisters of Saint Anne of Providence.

Joan lived among those she served, in cramped quarters, and endured significant difficulties—oftentimes at the hands of her Catholic brethren. A religious order from whom she rented space continuously raised her rent, not comfortable with the “bad element” she was attracting. Several accidents—including the collapse of a building roof—almost stopped her operation, but Joan persisted in the Lord’s work. In 1706, Saint Louis Marie Grignion de Montfort visited Saumur, and met Joan. He at first chastised her for her extreme bodily mortifications, but also offered her the spiritual encouragement to continue: “Go on in the way you have begun. God’s spirit is with you; it is He who is leading you in this penitential way. Follow His voice, and fear no more.”

Orginal Family Shop-- "the little Providence House"
Over the following ten years, until her death, Joan continued to labor to build her order and help those in need. The sisters were officially recognized as an order, and were allowed to take vows. Joan took the name of Joan of the Cross, and attracted a wealthy benefactor so that she could stop renting space and move into a permanent facility. The “little Providence House” that had once been a trinket shop became the Great Providence House, and along with it, Joan founded 11 additional houses, hospices, and schools.

Saint Joan of the Cross—like many of us—found it difficult not to get caught up in the events and yearnings of the world. She approached her religion as a checklist, rather than a force of faith and direction in her life, simply going through the expected motions and not opening herself to the benefits and riches. Through the most unexpected of sources, Joan came to hear the call of God, and embrace her mission of charity on earth. Today we pray for the same openness to those around us and to the message of God—that we might serve Him humbly, obediently, and faithfully to the betterment and salvation of mankind.

Year 2: Day 229 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Openness to the call of the Lord; For all those in need and those who minister to them.
Requested Intentions: For personal family intentions, for the sick, poor, hungry, and homeless (G); Financial security and peace (J); Grace, peace, and obedience to the will of God in a marriage (H); Successful and blessed marriage for sin, freedom from anxiety for husband, spiritual contentedness for family (N); Employment and health for a husband (B); Recovery and health of a mother (J); For a family to grow closer to the Church, salvation for all children (D); Successful employment (L); Successful employment (S); Renewal of faith life (A); Support for an intended marriage, health for friend and aunt (J); Mental health assistance for son (G); Freedom from illness (S); Successful employment (C); Financial assistance and employment (B); For a family’s intentions (T); Successful examination results (B); Healing of a friend with cancer, for all those who help others (B); Healing and love (L); Grace and healing (V); Healing of a heart, consecration of a marriage (M); Health of a family, intentions of apostolate (H); For repentance (J); For a family in trouble (R); Healing, successful relationships for son, financial success (J); Success of a company (L); For a religious society (J); Healing of a husband, strength as a faithful caregiver (D); Healing of a son (T); Financial security, Healing and guidance (M); Healing of a heart and relationship (V); Employment for daughter (J); For a marriage that glorifies the Lord (K); Resolution of family situation, parents’ health (A); Positive results (C); For a son’s employment, faith, and relationships (S).


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