POPE FRANCIS EXHORTS: ‘NEVER ABANDON THE ROSARY’
by Stephen Wynne • ChurchMilitant.com • October 17, 2017
Urges Catholics to ‘Pray the Rosary’ as Our Lady of Fatima Asked
DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) – “Never abandon the Rosary. Pray the Rosary, as she asked.”
This was the message of Pope Francis to pilgrims at the Fatima Shrine in Portugal on October 13, the centenary of Our Lady’s final apparition at the Cova da Iria. And the same refrain echoes through the Church and across the centuries: Never abandon the Rosary. Pray the Rosary, as she asked.
Pope St. Pius X, foe of Modernism, warned the Church “the chief strength of the wicked lies in the cowardice and weakness of good men. All the strength of Satan’s reign is due to the easy-going weakness of Catholics.”
History is marked by periods when that easy-going weakness, that spiritual sloth, is in particular abundance. But these same periods of darkness are sometimes pierced by prayerful light — manifestations of Our Lord moving mightily on behalf of His people, through the intercession of Our Lady and her Rosary.
In his book Champions of the Rosary, Fr. Donald Calloway recounts the Rosary’s origins during the time of the Albigensian heresy in France.
Dominic Guzman, a member of the Canons Regular, was on a preaching campaign in Southwestern France, trying to combat the spread of Albigensianism. Though a gifted orator, his success was limited. Troubled, he retreated into the forest outside Toulouse to pray. There, he was met by an apparition of Our Lady, who told him:
Wonder not that until now you have obtained so little fruit by your labors; you have spent them on a barren soil, not yet watered with the dew of a divine grace. When God willed to renew the face of the earth, He began by sending down on it the fertilizing rain of the Angelic Salutation. Therefore, preach my Psalter.
This, Fr. Calloway writes, was “the founding moment of the holy Rosary of Mary … the moment the sword was unsheathed.”
In the years after, Albigensianism was routed. Through the Rosary, France — the “eldest daughter of the Church” — was restored to Catholicism.
Miraculous accounts involving the Rosary are not limited to medieval times.
In the waning days of World War II, four German Jesuits stationed in southern Japan were immersed in work and prayer, tending to their growing flock.
On the morning of August 6, 1945, a great flash swallowed the sky and the men were hit by a tremendous concussion. Eight blocks from their Hiroshima rectory, “Little Boy” had detonated — the first nuclear attack in human history.
Hiroshima was incinerated, with more than 130,000 residents killed or injured. But not a single Jesuit missionary died.
Hiroshima, August 1945
In fact, they received only minor injuries. They suffered no radiation sickness, no blindness and no deafness — all endemic among Hiroshima residents after the bombing. Additionally, the Jesuits’ chapel was obliterated by the bomb’s blast wave, but their house remained standing.
Scientists and doctors examined the missionaries upwards of 200 times, trying to understand how they emerged from the blast virtually unscathed, while all around them tens of thousands died.
When asked their own opinion as to how they survived, they replied simply, “We were living the message of Fatima. We lived and prayed the Rosary daily in that home.”
A few years later, the power of the Rosary was made visible in Austria, which was under Soviet occupation. Since the end of the war in 1945, Russian Communists had refused to remove their troops from Austria, arguing they would remain until the allies (Britain, France, the United States and the Soviet Union) reached agreement on the final status of Germany.
Facing indefinite occupation, an Austrian priest launched a national Rosary crusade to pray for the liberation of his country. By 1950, the movement had grown to 80,000 members and by the Marian Year of 1954, some 450,000 Austrians were praying the Rosary for liberation.
On May 13 — the anniversary of the first apparition of Our Lady at Fatima — the Soviets announced they were pulling out of Austria. It was the one and only time the Soviet Union voluntarily withdrew their soldiers from an occupied country.
In the Russian departure, the Catholics of Austria recognized the power of the Rosary. During a thanksgiving procession on the Feast of the Holy Name of Mary, Austrian Chancellor Julius Raab addressed the nation, saying:
To those Catholics who have joined this crusade, I, as Federal Chancellor, wish to express my sincere thanks for the love, loyalty and spirit of sacrifice you have shown. I ask this immense number of Austria’s faithful Catholics to remain true to their faith and unswerving in their prayers. … But for today we want to send up a joyful prayer to Heaven and end it with the words: “We are free! Mary, we thank you!”
In messages to St. Dominic, Our Lady promised extraordinary graces for those who would dedicate themselves to the Rosary, including special protection against attack and strengthening against temptation.
Pope St. John Paul II recognized the strength of the devotion and the assurance of Our Lady’s promises for those who choose to commit themselves to it.
During an interview in 1980, he lifted his Rosary upward and said, “Here is the remedy against evil. Pray, pray and ask for nothing else. Put everything in the hands of the Mother of God. … We must be attentive to the prayer of the Rosary!”
In the years before her death, Sr. Lucia, one of the Fatima visionaries, explained that Our Lady “has given a new efficacy to the recitation of the Rosary,” such that “there is no problem, no matter how difficult, whether temporal or above all spiritual, in the personal life of each one of us or of our families, that cannot be solved by the Rosary.”
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Stephen Wynne is a staff writer for Church Militant.
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