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."

February 3, 2013: Saint Ansgar, "Apostle of the North"

Posted by Jacob

“If I were worthy of such a favor from my God, I would ask that he grant me this one miracle: that by His grace He would make of me a good man.”

Today, February 3, we celebrate the feast of Saint Ansgar (801-865), Archbishop, the “Apostle of the North,” and patron saint of Denmark, Germany, Iceland, and Scandinavia. Saint Ansgar traveled throughout Europe and Scandinavia, working miracles, assisting the sick and the poor, and bringing many to the faith. He is remembered for his tireless service to the Lord, and his carrying of the Gospel to areas still overshadowed by darkness.

Ansgar was born near Amiens in Picardy, France. Born into a noble family, Ansgar lacked for nothing as a child, but was drawn to a life of poverty and service nonetheless. He entered the Benedictine monastery at Old Corbie Abbey in Picardy, becoming a monk. Ansgar was educated under the direction of Saint Abelard, and upon ordination, volunteered for the dangerous activity of missionary work to the Danes. Many attempted to dissuade him, as this work meant certain death, given the pagan beliefs and reported cruelty of the invaders who had swept through most of Scandinavia. Nevertheless, when King Harold returned to Denmark, Saint Ansgar and another monk accompanied him. Living in tents, and brining only holy books with them, the two monks established a school. He worked for some time, with great success, both educating and converting the local Danes, until his companion died, and he was invited by King Bjørn to continue his work in Sweden.

Willing to follow the call of the Lord wherever it led him, Saint Ansgar departed by ship for Sweden, where he was attacked by pirates and lost all his possessions. He arrived with nothing other than the clothes on his back, and soon founded the first Christian church in Sweden. He continued his work, speaking directly with pagan chiefs, and converting many of them, which in turn led to the conversion of their tribes.

Following his success in Sweden, Saint Ansgar was appointed the first Archbishop of Hamburg, Germany and the abbot of New Corbie, to which he returned. He was subsequently ordained Papal Legate to Scandinavia by Pope Gregory IV. As based upon this position the souls of Scandinavians fell to his care, Saint Ansgar spent the next 14 years evangelizing, assisting the poor and sick, and building churches in Norway, Denmark, and northern Germany.

At that time, invading pagan Viking forces were sweeping across Europe, and Saint Ansgar witnessed the destruction of his churches and schools. Nonetheless, Pope Nicholas I made him Archbishop of Bremen, Germany, which he united with the bishopric of Hamburg, and gave Ansgar jurisdiction over Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. There, he began the slow work of rebuilding his churches, schools, and missions, and ministering to those who had suffered in the invasion, the poor, and the sick. He campaigned vigorously against slavery, freeing those the Vikings captured, asserting the freedom of all of God’s creation.

Saint Ansgar continued preaching throughout Scandinavia until his death. He preached in the court of King Olaf, converted Erik, King of the Jutland, and worked numerous miracles of healing and assistance. He is remembered as a great missionary, and an indefatigable and outstanding preacher. Throughout his life, Saint Ansgar was renowned for his austerity and holiness of life. He wore a hair shirt, and fasted every day his health permitted it. All that he had was given away to those in greater need. Through his model alone, he converted many to the faith. He was devoted to the poor and the sick, imitating the Lord in washing their feet and waiting on them at table. He died peacefully at Bremen, Germany, without achieving his wish to be a martyr.

The life of Saint Ansgar reminds us that the Lord’s plan is one which we may not always understand. The works of Saint Ansgar were destroyed before his eyes by invaders. Yet, he picked himself up and began rebuilding his missions. We are confronted with situations in our own lives that discourage us, make us wish to give up. At those times, we might look to Saint Ansgar, who kept his eyes firmly on the Lord, and followed his calling to witness to an entire people.

Almighty and everlasting God, you sent your servant Ansgar as an apostle to the people of Scandinavia, and enabled him to lay a firm foundation for their conversion, though he did not see the results of his labors: Keep your Church from discouragement in the day of small things, knowing that when you have begun a good work you will bring it to a fruitful conclusion. Amen.

You sent St. Ansgar,
to bring the light of Christ to many nations.
May His prayers help us
to walk in the light of Your truth.
We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


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