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."

March 26, 2013: Seven Last Words: Hope

Posted by Jacob

In the days leading up to Good Friday, I will be meditating on the Seven Last Words of Christ.

Lent is a time of solemn contemplation of the Passion of Christ. We may choose to meditate, contemplate, or pray on His suffering for us. One way in which me might do this is through devotion to His Seven Last Words—the seven final phrases uttered by Christ as recounted in the Gospels. These Seven Last Words of the Passion of Christ are understood only in light of the true one Word of Life and Resurrection—the phrases uttered by Jesus before His death take on new life and new meaning following the glory of His resurrection. We sit with the pain and loss of crucifixion during Lent, but look forward to the brightness of new life on Easter.

The Seven Last Words

1. “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) (link)
2. “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:43) (link)
3. “Woman, Behold your Son. Behold your mother.” (John 19:26-27) (link)
4. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34)
5. “ I thirst.” (John 19:29)
6. “It is finished.” (John 19:30)
7. “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me” (Mark 15:34)

The first three statements of Jesus on the Cross fill us with hope, we sense that beginning of something, the becoming of the kingdom. We start with the fact that we are forgiven, continue to the experience of happiness, of paradise, even today, and recount the rebirth of the family of God, here on earth—all at the foot of the cross!

And then, we hear the words of Jesus, having emptied himself of all His earthly ties, hanging on the cross, suffering for the sins of all mankind—we hear His words of desolation and agony: “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?”

“My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?”

At first glance, it is easy to interpret this statement as Jesus feeling abandoned by Our Heavenly Father, left alone to die. We can imagine the human suffering, the emotional emptiness, the pain—but we cannot comprehend it. Jesus was feeling not only His pain, but our pain; not only the weight of His body, but the weight of our sins. And in the midst of this horror, He clings to what He knows—His Father in heaven.

Jesus’ words are important. He starts where He is centered—in God. Even in the depths of sorrow, Jesus holds onto what He knows is true: His Father, God, is His God. The relationship has not ended. Despite the pain and suffering, the relationship persists. Even though we might be tempted to question or even renounce the Lord when our suffering becomes to much to bear, wondering if He is there, wondering how He could let such pain exist, Jesus never does this. He acknowledges the power and might of the Lord, the presence of God, even in His last moments. By calling out to Him, against models for all of us that the Lord is our center, our rock, our hope.

And we must not forget this. We must have confidence in the Lord, even in the most difficult of circumstances. We must remember in our darkest moments, in the bleakest of circumstances, the Lord remains beside us, within us. We must look to Him. We must have hope.

So, why did Jesus make such a statement on the cross? Why would He allude to abandonment, while remaining centered in His Heavenly Father? For this, there is no easy answer. It is impossible of us, in our modern times, to conceive of the pain and humiliation of crucifixion. And considering such a death for one person pales in comparison to what Jesus endured—death on the cross for all people. The physical pain must have been too much to suffer, but the emotional pain, the spiritual pain that Christ undertook on the cross is debilitating to even think about. If we reflect on our own lives, sincerely and thoughtfully, we come face-to-face with our humanity, our sinfulness, our past transgressions. That alone is emotionally overwhelming. Now consider experiencing that awareness and pain on a larger level, on the level of all people who ever lived. The degree of pain and suffering that Christ endured in those moments on the cross, in atoning for all our sins, in holding the wrong-doings of the entire world is impossible to conceptualize, let alone being to experience. And despite this, despite the overwhelming pain, He calls out to His Father.

And in calling out, He chooses His words so carefully. He understands that the Lord is His God. He understands the why of why He must die. But His is not a rhetorical question. He, in His moment of agony, is fulfilling the Scripture. He is quoting the Scripture, Psalm 22, the most accurate prediction of His death, written over 1000 years prior to His life.

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
2 O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.
3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.
4 In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.
6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
8 "He trusts in the LORD;
let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him."
9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother's breast.
10 From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother's womb you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.
17 I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.
19 But you, O LORD, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.
22 I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!
27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.
29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn—
for he has done it.

Jesus recognizes that His suffering, His death, His punishment leads, in the end, to the glory of God, a new hope for mankind. They who seek the Lord will praise Him, until the ends of the earth! In dying, Jesus has crushed sin once and for all, and we are left not with abandonment, not with forsakenness, but with hope—hope in the love of a God who hates sin so much, He offers His Son to redeem the world.


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