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 26, 2013: Blessed Bishop Michal Kozal, Martyr

Posted by Jacob

Today, January 26, we celebrate the feast day of Blessed Michal Kozal (1883-1943), bishop, minister to those imprisoned, and one of the many Polish martyrs who perished during the Second World War.  Beatified by Blessed Pope John Paul II, Blessed Michal stood for love and faith in the face of tyranny and persecution.  He earned the martyrs crown via his tireless preaching of the Gospel, even while imprisoned in a concentration camp.

Born in the small Polish village of Nowy Folwark, Michal was the member of a very large family. Due to their size, the family was quite poor, although managed to get by.  They were sustained on faith, through the example and leadership of John and Marianna, Michal’s devout parents.  While not all the children were sent for education, Michal demonstrated an academic aptitude, serious nature, and fondness of everything sacred, and as such, was sent first to elementary school and then to high school.

After graduating in 1914, Michal entered the seminary Leonium Poznan, and was ordained in 1918, despite his studies having been disrupted by World War I. He served well in various assignments, moving from town to town in rural Poland, and demonstrating both zeal for the Lord and dedication to the Church.  Simultaneously, Michal continued his theological studies, and was recognized in 1922 via appointment as the Prefect of the Catholic School of Humanities in Bydgoszcz.  He was later named the director and spiritual father of the Major Seminary of Gniezno.  So successful in his tasks, he was appointed the rector of the seminary in 1929, despite the fact that he was the only teacher there who had not yet finished his academic degree.

Blessed Michal labored for a decade at the seminary, leading his charges by prudent and disciplined example.  In 1939, Pope Pius XII appointed him auxiliary Bishop of Wloclawek, and he was installed in the Cathedral of the city on August 13.  Only two weeks later, Poland was invaded by Nazi troops, and Bishop Kozal found his position required him to allay the fears of his parishioners, bringing comfort in a time of horror and devastation.  The Polish authorities urged the Bishop to leave the city and reside in a safer location, but he felt strongly that his place was with his people, and he remained in Wloclawek to administer the parish and preach the Gospel.

Only 22 months following his appointment, the German troops took Wloclawek, and systematically began dismantling the Church, as they had in other cities.  Catholic publications were suppressed, buildings belonging to the churches and religious institutions were seized, and the clergy were arrested and detained.  Despite the terror and persecution, Bishop Kozal protested the seizures and arrests zealously, but in vain.  He was ordered to present himself to the Gestapo, who ordered him to deliver his sermons only in German.  He refused, given that the vast majority of his parishioners did not speak German.

On November 7, 1939, Bishop Kozal was arrested, along with the other priests still remaining in the city, and imprisoned in the city jail.  He was placed in solitary confinement, once it became clear that the others were looking to him for leadership, spiritual counsel, and direction.  Shortly thereafter, the Gestapo began torturing him, as an example for the others.

Three months later, in January 1940, Bishop Kozal was transferred with the remaining priests and seminarians to a more comfortable location.  There, kept under house arrest, he began to re-organize the diocese and seminary, to promote the faith and provide hope to those without hope.  Each day, from the small window of his room, he could see the crowds of deportees, and realized that he, too, would suffer that fate.  In that moment, he offered his life to God, for the salvation of the Church, and for the sufferers of Poland.

Despite the efforts of the Holy See to save them, on April 25, 1941, Bishop Kozal, seven priests, and a deacon were transferred to the concentration camp of Inowroclaw.  The other priests and seminarians had been deported earlier to several other camps, the idea being that they should not all remain together.  Arriving at Inowroclaw, Bishop Kozal’s tortures began anew, with injuries resulting to both his legs and his left ear. Only three weeks later, the group was transferred to Dachau.  Bishop Kozal was given prisoner number 24544, and continued to suffer daily torture.  However, he also continued to preach the Gospel and lift the spirits of the imprisoned, regardless of faith, with all his remaining strength.  Bishop Kozal contracted typhus, and was taken to a medical ward.  It is there that he was given a lethal injection of poison.

Blessed Bishop Kozal’s body was incinerated at the crematorium at Dachau on January 30, 1941.  A stone memorial at the cathedral of Wloclawek commemorates his martyrdom, as well as that of 220 other priests of the Wloclawek diocese, who died in Dachau.

Inspired by the life and courageous living of the Gospel demonstrated by Blessed Michal Kozal, today we pray for courage to face the difficulties—both large and small—on our lives.  

Dear God, give me courage, 
for perhaps I lack it more than anything else.

I need courage before men against their threats 
and against their seductions.

I need courage to bear unkindness, 
mockery, contradiction.

I need courage to fight against the devil,
against terrors and troubles, temptations, 
attractions, darkness and false lights, 
against tears, depression, and above all fear.

I need Your help, dear God.

Strengthen me with Your love and Your grace.

Console me with Your blessed Presence 
and grant me the courage to persevere 
until I am with You forever in heaven.  Amen.


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