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."

October 20: Saint Maria Bertilla Boscardin

Posted by Jacob

“I can't do anything. I'm a poor thing, a goose. Teach me. I want to be a saint."

Today, October 20, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Maria Bertilla Boscardin (1888-1922), a young woman who was greeted by rejection, ridicule and disappointment at every turn, but used such trials to grow closer to God and serve Him with simplicity, humility, and deep faith.

Born Anna Francesca Boscardin in Veneto, Italy, Maria was a member of a poor peasant family. Her father, by his own admission, was jealous, violent, and frequently drunk. Given the family’s poverty, Anna was required to assist in the fields, and could attend school only infrequently. As such, with no significant education, she remained illiterate, simple, and innocent, and was viewed by her peers and neighbors as mentally delayed. Anna was industrious throughout her youth, working for her father as well as working as a house servant for neighbors. As she did not display any particular talents, and was thought to be not particularly intelligent, and was the frequent target of insulting jokes, ridicule, and abuse—from both adults and children alike. These included being referred to as a "goose" for her slowness by a local clergyman when she declared her intent to join a religious order and serve the Lord.

When Anna was able to attend school, neither her peers nor teachers paid her any positive attention. Despite instructions, sometimes she was unable to correct her homework and her schoolmates, with the cruelty of their age, never forget to make her aware of the fact. “I really don’t mind," she would answer humbly, not bearing any anger toward them. Only once will the teacher and her schoolmates remain uncomfortable before her, unable to mock her. During Holy Week the teacher told the class of the passion of Jesus and Anna, hearing the story, burst into tears heartbroken. She explained: “I am crying for the sufferings of the Lord, and because men are so cruel.”

She fared only slightly better with the parish priest, who while stern with her, saw her humility and faith and admitted her to Holy Communion three years before she was authorized to do so (given her age). Similarly, he accepted her wish to join the association of the “Children of Mary” when only twelve. But he was not prepared for her expression of interest in a religious vocation, and her desire to consecrate herself fully to the Lord.

“But you are not able to do anything!” He exclaimed. “The nuns would not know what to do with you!”

“That is true, master,” Anna answered quite candidly, and accepted his advice that she remain at home, working in the fields.

So he explained that it would be better if she remained at home and gave a hand with the work in the fields. However, upon reflection in front of the Blessed Sacrament later that evening, the same priest realized that Anna was called to serve God. He called her back to him, asking “Are you still decided on entering a convent? Tell me something: do you know how to peel potatoes at least?”

“Oh yes, Father, I am able to do that at least."

With keen insight, he agreed, saying “Alright, you need to know nothing else.” He also presented her with a small copy of the Catechism, which she carried with her every day of her life, and was discovered in the pocket of her habit upon her death at age 33.

After being rejected for admission to one order because of her slowness, she was eventually accepted as a member of the Sisters of Saint Dorothy, Daughters of the Sacred Heart at Vicenza, and took the name "Maria Bertilla.” Upon admission, she told the novice-mistress of the order, "I can't do anything. I'm a poor thing, a goose. Teach me. I want to be a saint." She worked there as a kitchen maid and laundress for three years.

She was then sent to Treviso to learn nursing at the municipal hospital there, which was under the direction of her order. During her training period, she was once placed to work in the kitchen. However, upon completing her training, she was promoted to working with victims of diphtheria in the hospital's children's ward. She became a great favorite of both the patients and her co-workers, recognized at once for the simple, gentle care she gave her patients. During the air raids of Treviso during World War I, the hospital fell under the control of the military. Sister Bertilla was noted for her unwavering care of her patients, particularly those who were too ill to be moved to safety. Without hesitation she nursed the wounded soldiers lodged there, refusing to vacate the hospital while it was being bombed.

Saint Maria continued in this manner, devoted to her work, humble and caring, and exhibiting a profound by simple faith. She was noted for her sincere love for her patients and the warm charity that she displayed towards them. She also had a special way of conveying the comforting presence of God to those who were seriously ill and eased their stress through her gentle demeanor. One of the doctors she worked with said of her:
“Sister Bertilla always gave me the impression that there was someone beside her who guided and helped her; because a person who rises, in their mission of charity, above others, who also live by the same laws, behave with the same tension, while not having (looking at her materially) any quality or intelligence or culture that would make her superior to others, she really gave the impression that she acted…as if she was following an angel that conducted her. It is not possible for a doctor to think of a person like Sister Bertilla, who passes one, two, three, fifteen nights without sleep, and she presents herself always in the same manner, neglecting herself, without signs of tiredness or the illness that undermined her, I repeat, something inside and outside that sublimated her. Not only, but the fact that she transited such an influence on other, such a persuasion that is not found in other people.”
Her supervisor, angry at her growing reputation, reassigned her to the hospital laundry, a position she remained in (without complaint) for four months. Her congregation’s mother-general heard of this vindictive treatment, and transferred Bertilla back to nursing, making her the supervisor of the children’s ward.

Not long after her transfer, Sister Bertilla’s already fragile health worsened. She had, for several years, suffered a painful tumor without complaint or interruption to her work. It was determined that she needed surgery to remove the tumor, which she obediently underwent, but did not survive.

Saint Maria Bertilla’s reputation for simplicity and devoted, caring hard work left a deep impression on those who knew her. A memorial plaque placed on her tomb refers to her as "a chosen soul of heroic goodness ... an angelic alleviator of human suffering in this place." Devoted crowds traveled on pilgrimage to her tomb, and numerous miracles were reported there. Only 42 years after her death, she was canonized as a saint, and the crowd in attendance included some of the patients she had so deeply cared for.

O Dearly beloved Word of God, teach me to be generous, to serve Thee as Thou dost deserve, to give without counting the cost, to fight without fretting at my wounds, to labor without seeking rest, to spend myself without looking for any reward other than that of knowing that I do Thy holy will. Amen.

Year 2: Day 293 of 365
Prayer Intentions: Selflessness and service to others.
Requested Intentions: Restoration of a marriage (A); Peace and tolerance in a family, support for those with Parkinson’s Disease (M); For the restoration of a daughter’s marriage, end to debt (S); Employment and continued strength (K); Successful examinations for a son (J); Employment and blessings of a child (S); Employment and financial security (F); Successful work placement, continued health (A); Grace and healing for a family (P); Healing of a father (M); Academic success for son, employment for husband and brother (B); Freedom from anxiety and panic attacks (R); Health and healing in preparation for surgery (C); Healing of a chronic illness (P); Safety of a family during storms (A); Successful home ownership (P); Healing of a marriage (M); Employment for a husband, blessings for a marriage (E); Successful examinations for a daughter, healing of a relationships (V); Blessing for a family (V); Healing of baby girl M and all children suffering (M); Special intentions (R); Business success, peace, health (E); Conversion and deliverance of those who suffer, increase in vocations (M); Financial security and safe housing (M); For a daughter (K).


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