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."

January 1, 2013: Blessed Waldo

Posted by Jacob

Today, January 1, we celebrate the feast day of Blessed Waldo (died 1320, also known as Blessed Vivaldo or Blessed Ubaldo). Blessed Waldo is a perfect holy  man to begin our yearly devotions, given his simplicity, humility, and unflinching answer to the Lord’s call of service.  May we all be so receptive to the Lord this year!

Waldo resided in San Gimignano, in northern Italy.  He was known as a humble and holy man, and offered his service to those who found themselves in the Leper hospital near San Gimignano.  When a holy Franciscan brother, Bartolo, found himself in the Leper hospital, Blessed Waldo committed himself to the holy man as a servant and disciple, offering his service and comfort for the next twenty years.  During that time, it is likely that he, himself, contracted Leprosy.  Brother Bartolo instructed Waldo, during their twenty-year friendship, in the ways of the faith, and Waldo eventually joined the Tertiary Order of Saint Francis. 

Interior, Chapel of San Vivaldo
In 1300, when Bartolo joined the Lord in Heaven, Waldo felt called to withdraw from the world altogether, so that he might deepen his conversation with the Lord and not be distracted by the temptations of the world.  Traveling on foot to a large forest, Blessed Waldo was led to a large chestnut tree in which he discovered a hollow large enough to serve as a solitary cell.  While there was barely sufficient space to kneel, Waldo took the cell as his own and there spent the remainder of his life in silence and solitude, offering severe penances and contemplating the faith.

Holy legend and church records tell us that that one day in May 1320, the bells of the church from the village adjacent to the forest began to ring of their own accord.  As local residents ran to the church seeking to unravel the mystery of the bells, a hunter emerged from the forest. He reported to the assembled crowd that his hounds had circled a hollow chestnut tree nearby and that they began barking excitedly. When the hunter approached the tree to investigate the matter, he found a recluse in the cavity of the tree, dead on his knees. Just as the hunter finished recounting the story, the bells ceased ringing.

Convent at San Vivaldo
Those who resided in the nearby town, Monteone, determined, without a doubt, that the hermit in the hollowed chestnut tree was a holy man.  They formed a procession, retrieving his holy body from the tree, and laid it to rest beneath the alter in the town church, where numerous miracles were reported.  The chestnut tree was similarly turned into a small chapel in honor of Mary, the Mother of God, and Our Blessed Mother.  In time, a Franciscan convent was built on the site  Today, the Convent at San Vivaldo is one of the most important religious places of Italy, and has been recognized as a national monument.

As we begin the new year, we pause to consider how Blessed Waldo’s behaviors must have seemed very strange to those who encountered him.  However, despite the human judgment that likely occurred, this holy man maintained his life, his thoughts, actions, and eyes fixed on the Lord.  We might look to Blessed Waldo for inspiration when others judge us for our faith, or more importantly, when we keep our faith and beliefs to ourselves out of fear of the judgment of others.  May the Lord shower us with the courage and grace we need to live our faiths with certainty and fortitude.


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