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 5, 2013: Saint Agatha

Posted by Jacob

February 5 marks the feast day of Saint Agatha (born unknown, deceased 251), Virgin Martyr of the Church. Like Saint Agnes, Saint Agatha endured torture, imprisonment, persecution, and death at a very young age, all the while withstanding the pressure of society and those in power to conform. Rather, she dedicated her life, her heart, and her entire body to Christ, willingly suffering for Him and witnessing to many in the process. She is one of seven women, excluding Mary, Our Blessed Mother and Virgin, commemorated by name in the Canon of the Mass.

Little is known about the details of Agatha’s life, although her persecution and death are well established. Born in Sicily, to a wealthy noble family, Agatha consecrated herself at an early age to Jesus, proclaiming her faith, and declaring to her family her intentions to remain an unmarried virgin. Despite societal expectations at that time, and the prohibition against and persecution of Christianity by Emperor Decius, Agatha’s family were supportive of her choice and did not attempt to make her marry as was customary.

Agatha grew into a beautiful and pure young woman, who attracted the attention of many suitors, some quite powerful. She refused each, firm in her devotion to her Lord. One such suitor, the magistrate Quinctianus, looked to use the active persecution of Christians to his advantage, attempting to blackmail the young Agatha into marrying him. If she refused him, she would be imprisoned and tried as a Christian, an enemy of the Emperor Decius. Agatha refused, and was imprisoned, first in a brothel where she survived for a month without losing her purity. Brought back before Quinctianus, Agatha was observed to pray, rather than be afraid. She prayed, "Jesus Christ, Lord of all, you see my heart, you know my desires. Possess all that I am. I am your sheep: make me worthy to overcome the devil."

Agatha was thrown into prison following severe torture during which her breasts were both crushed and then severed from her body. To her persecutor, she is reported to have said, "Cruel man, have you forgotten your mother and the breast that nourished you, that you dare to mutilate me this way?" In early artistic renderings, Saint Agatha is oftentimes seen carrying her severed breasts on a silver tray. She is currently the patron saint of those with breast cancer.

Thrown into a dark prison cell and denied medical attention, Agatha prayed for relief, and was granted a miraculous vision of Saint Peter, who filled her cell with a heavenly light and healed her wounds. Quinctianus sentenced her to death by being rolled alive in hot coals. During the torture, an earthquake miraculously shook the area, dislodging nearby buildings and wounding those who wished to harm her. However, Agatha was quite wounded, and prayed, "Lord, my Creator, you have always protected me from the cradle; you have taken me from the love of the world and given me patience to suffer. Receive my soul." She died shortly thereafter, having been again imprisoned.

Numerous miracles have been attributed to the intercession of Saint Agatha, including averted eruptions of Mount Etna. The faith, carrying her veil, taken from her tomb in Catania, in procession have averted eruptions of Mount Etna. Her intercession is reported to have also saved Malta from Turkish invasion in 1551.

Saint Agatha inspires us to look beyond our physical selves to a much deeper communion with the Lord, the Blessed Mother, and the Saints. Even in her most desperate of times, maimed and tortured, she remained pure and virtuous, beautiful of faith and spirit, and courageous of will. Agatha’s interior world, a world consecrated to the Lord, was never touched by the cruelty of those who persecuted her. Her reliance on Jesus is remarkable given her age and that which she endured. Her sufferings make our daily complaints seem somewhat insignificant upon reflection, and yet, even with our difficulties, we have a hard time turning to God, putting our faith in Him, and trusting in His plan and protection. Perhaps that is the message of Saint Agatha—complete love and trust for the Lord, acceptance of His will, and embracing of human suffering for Him.

On a personal note, having just marked the anniversary of the death of a dear friend to cancer, Saint Agatha’s patronage of those fighting breast cancer is both poignant and timely. I pray to Saint Agatha for her intercession for all those affected by breast cancer—survivors, those currently struggling, and those who have been overcome, as well as their caregivers, families, and friends. Intercede for us, Saint Agatha. Bring comfort and healing!

Oh St. Agatha, who withstood the unwelcome advances from unwanted suitors, and suffered pain and torture for her devotion to Our Lord, we celebrate your faith, dignity and martyrdom.

Protect all against rape and other violations, guard all against breast cancer and other afflictions, and inspire all to overcome adversity.

Oh St. Agatha, virgin and martyr, mercifully grant that we who venerate your sacrifice, may receive your intercession. Amen.


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