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."

May 29: Saint Saint Julia Maria Ledóchowska, Mother Maria Ursula of Jesus

Posted by Jacob

“If only I knew how to love, to burn and consume oneself in love” 


Today, May 29, we celebrate the feast day of Saint Julia Maria Ledóchowska, Maria Ursula of Jesus (1865-1939), Foundress of the Institute of Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Agony.  Throughout her life, during a difficult political period, including the First World War, Julia maintained a constant focus on helping the poor, displaced, and forgotten.  When questioned about her political views, often at risk to her own life, she simply and repeatedly replied, “My policy is love.”


Born in Austria, Julia was born into a privileged family, the daughter of a Polish count and a Swiss noblewoman. She was one of five children born into the family.  Her elder sister, Blessed Maria Teresa Ledóchowska, founded the Missionary Sisters of Saint Peter Claver and is affectionately known as the “Mother of Africa.”


Julia (at left), her mother, and sisters

Julia’s uncle, the Cardinal Mieczyslaw Ledóchowski, the Primate of Poland, was persecuted and imprisoned for his opposition to the policies of the Prussian  “culture war.”  For this reason, and for reasons of finances, Julia’s father moved the family back to his native Poland, where he fell ill.  Before his death, he gave his daughter his blessing to enter the Convent of Ursuline Sisters in Krakow.  Taking the name of Maria Ursula of Jesus, she dedicated herself to service of those in need.  Sister Maria Ursula was especially drawn to youth, specifically young women who were in need of education.  She founded the first Polish residence for female university students, and both watched over them and assisted them in their spiritual and academic studies.


Sister Maria Ursula became prioress of the convent in which she lived, and later received a request from Monsignor Constantine Budkiewicz, a Polish nobleman living and pastor of Saint Catherine’s Church.  His wish was for Mother Maria Ursula to found a boarding school in Russia, for Polish girls wishing to study in Saint Petersburg.  Having received approval from Pope Saint Pius X, she traveled to Russia and founded a convent there to work among Catholic immigrants.  Given the state of Russian politics at that time, the nuns wore lay clothing, and conducted themselves appropriately, but were under constant threat and surveillance by the Russian secret police.


As World War I dawned, Mother Ursula was expelled from Russia, given her Austrian birth.  Monsignor Budkiewicz was eventually martyred for the faith, during the fall and renaming of Saint Petersburg as Leningrad.  Having been expelled from Russia, Mother Ursula fled to Sweden.  There, she organized relief efforts for war victims, charitable enterprises for those (like herself) living in exile from Poland.  She further founded a monthly Catholic newspaper.


In 1920, Mother Ursula and her growing community made its way back into Poland, bringing with her dozens of orphaned youth.  Upon their return, Mother Ursula found that her community had developed a separate and unique identity, mission, and charism from the Ursuline community, given their exile and separation, and as a result, she founded her own congregation:  The Institute of Ursuline Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in Agony.  Having obtained Vatican approval, she dedicated herself and her congregation to “the education and training of children and youth, and service to the poorest and the oppressed among our brethren.”


From that time on, the Ursulines founded congregations in working class towns, organizing a “Eucharistic Crusade” by which to educate the factory workers and their families in the ways of the faith.  With tireless energy and faith, Mother Ursula continued to lead her community until 1939, when she passed away quietly at the general house of her community in Rome.  Her incorrupt body was translated to the Gray Ursuline motherhouse in Pniewy, Poland in 1989.  She was canonized in 2003 by Pope John Paul II.  At her canonization, the pontiff proclaimed:


“Mother Ursula Ledóchowska made her life a mission of mercy for the most deprived. Wherever Providence took her, she found young people in need of instruction and spiritual formation, poor, sick or lonely people, battered by life in various ways, who expected of her understanding and concrete help. In accordance with her means, she never refused help to anyone. Her work of mercy will remain engraved forever in the message of holiness, which yesterday became part of the whole Church.”


Today, the congregation founded by Mother Ursula continues its work around the world, numbering at approximately 900 nuns and 100 communities in 12 countries including Poland, Italy, France, Germany, Finland, Belarus, Ukraine, Canada, Brazil, Argentina and Tanzania.  Saint Ursula educated her sisters to love God above all things and to see God in every human person and all creation. As a shining example of faith and complete trust in the Lord, she demonstrated her confidence through tireless work, constant smile, serenity of spirit, humility, and the desire to live an ordinary life as a privileged path to holiness. 


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