Rosarium Virginis Mariae -The Rosary of the Virgin Mary

Rosarium Virginis Mariae (The Rosary of the Virgin Mary)

Pope John Paul II wrote in his apostolic letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae (The rosary of the Virgin Mary):
 “The Rosary, reclaimed in its full meaning, goes to the very heart of Christian life; it offers a familiar yet fruitful spiritual and educational opportunity for personal contemplation, the formation of the People of God, and the new evangelization.”

“The most important reason for strongly encouraging the practice of the Rosary is that it represents a most effective means of fostering among the faithful that commitment to the contemplation of the Christian mystery which I have proposed in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte as a genuine “training in holiness”."

“The Rosary, precisely because it starts with Mary's own experience, is an exquisitely contemplative prayer. Without this contemplative dimension, it would lose its meaning, as Pope Paul VI clearly pointed out: “Without contemplation, the Rosary is a body without a soul, and its recitation runs the risk of becoming a mechanical repetition of formulas, in violation of the admonition of Christ: 'In praying do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think they will be heard for their many words' (Mt 6:7). By its nature the recitation of the Rosary calls for a quiet rhythm and a lingering pace, helping the individual to meditate on the mysteries of the Lord's life as seen through the eyes of her who was closest to the Lord. In this way the unfathomable riches of these mysteries are disclosed”.

“The history of the Rosary shows how this prayer was used in particular by the Dominicans at a difficult time for the Church due to the spread of heresy. Today we are facing new challenges. Why should we not once more have recourse to the Rosary, with the same faith as those who have gone before us? The Rosary retains all its power and continues to be a valuable pastoral resource for every good evangelizer.”

“To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and his Mother. Twenty-five years later, thinking back over the difficulties which have also been part of my exercise of the Petrine ministry, I feel the need to say once more, as a warm invitation to everyone to experience it personally: the Rosary does indeed ‘mark the rhythm of human life’, bringing it into harmony with the ‘rhythm’ of God's own life, in the joyful communion of the Holy Trinity, our life's destiny and deepest longing.”

“Listening and meditation are nourished by silence. After the announcement of the mystery and the proclamation of the word, it is fitting to pause and focus one's attention for a suitable period of time on the mystery concerned, before moving into vocal prayer. A discovery of the importance of silence is one of the secrets of practicing contemplation and meditation. One drawback of a society dominated by technology and the mass media is the fact that silence becomes increasingly difficult to achieve. Just as moments of silence are recommended in the Liturgy, so too in the recitation of the Rosary it is fitting to pause briefly after listening to the word of God, while the mind focuses on the content of a particular mystery.”

"Although the repeated Hail Mary is addressed directly to Mary, it is to Jesus that the act of love is ultimately directed, with her and through her. The repetition is nourished by the desire to be conformed ever more completely to Christ, the true programme of the Christian life."

“The Church has always attributed particular efficacy to this prayer, entrusting to the Rosary, to its choral recitation and to its constant practice, the most difficult problems. At times when Christianity itself seemed under threat, its deliverance was attributed to the power of this prayer, and Our Lady of the Rosary was acclaimed as the one whose intercession brought salvation.”

"The Rosary can be recited in full every day, and there are those who most laudably do so. In this way it fills with prayer the days of many a contemplative, or keeps company with the sick and the elderly who have abundant time at their disposal. Yet it is clear – and this applies all the more if the new series of mysteria lucis is included – that many people will not be able to recite more than a part of the Rosary, according to a certain weekly pattern. This weekly distribution has the effect of giving the different days of the week a certain spiritual “colour”, by analogy with the way in which the Liturgy colors the different seasons of the liturgical year."

“Many of the problems facing contemporary families, especially in economically developed societies, result from their increasing difficulty in communicating. Families seldom manage to come together, and the rare occasions when they do are often taken up with watching television. To return to the recitation of the family Rosary means filling daily life with very different images, images of the mystery of salvation: the image of the Redeemer, the image of his most Blessed Mother. The family that recites the Rosary together reproduces something of the atmosphere of the household of Nazareth: its members place Jesus at the center, they share his joys and sorrows, they place their needs and their plans in his hands, they draw from him the hope and the strength to go on.”
In the apostolic letter, John Paul II also highly recommends reading Supremi Apostolatus Officio, Pope Leo XIII's 1883 encyclical on devotion of the Rosary.

The Power of the Rosary
On August 6, 1945 a B-29 Super fortress bomber, Enola Gay, which took off from the Pacific island of Tinian, dropped an atomic bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. At 8:15, the deadly atomic bomb exploded with “blinding flash of bluish-white light, which seared the sky,” reached a temperature of 9,000°F (around 5,000°C) and “leveled almost everything within a radius of more than 3 kilometers.” 

The bomb’s “explosive force of 20,000 tons of TNT” killed outright 78,000 people and approximately 175,000 more died of radiation poisoning. But the deadly blast which ushered the atomic age did not affect the church of Our Lady of Assumption near the center of the blast. Seven Jesuit priests also survived the blast without suffering any major injury or radiation effects. Among them were Frs. Hubert F. Schiffer, Hugo Lassalle and Kleinsorge. 

Two-hundred scientists made investigations for several years in search for scientific explanation about the phenomenon experienced by the Jesuit priests however Father Schiffer, during the 1976 Eucharistic Congress in Philadelphia, said their house was different. They recited the rosary every day for special protection.

The Hiroshima bombing occurred on August 6, 1945, while that of Nagasaki followed on August 9. The priests in the Franciscan Friary established by Saint Maximillan Kolbe were also unharmed.
During the pontificate of Pope Pius V, the naval forces of Turkey threatened to invade Europe. Alarmed by the impending danger, the pope prayed for enlightenment, then called all European leaders to unite and form an army. He gave every soldier a rosary. On September 30, 1571, a fleet of about 5,000 men, went to battle against the mighty 30,000 Turkish fleet in the Battle of Lepanto, which was won by the Church on October 7, 1571. Saint Pius V, to honor the Blessed Mother, established October 7 as a commemorative feast for Our Lady of the Rosary. The victory of Lepanto is just one of the many glorious battles attributed to the power of the rosary.

The defeat of the Dutch in the Philippines in 1646 is also recognized in Church history as a “victory for the rosary.”

On March 15, 1646, a “formidable flotilla” of Dutch Protestant ships arrived in the port of Manila. This brought anxiety to Spanish and Filipinos who had only two merchant ships. Fr. Jean de Conca, OP, taught the sailors how and why they should pray the rosary in choruses during the encounters. From March to October they did, and what was humanly impossible happened: The Protestant fleets were destroyed and only 15 of the 200 Christian men perished. The victory was considered important because it saved Catholicism in the Philippines.

‘Rosarium’ of Special Graces
The Blessed Virgin Mary made 15 promises to those who pray the rosary, to Saint Dominic, Blessed Alan de la Roche, OP, and Saint Louis de Montfort, OP. Mary emphasized that there is no limit to the power of the rosary for it is “man’s crown of merit during lifetime, a crown of peace during death and a crown of glory in heaven.”

In the 12th century, the religious orders recited together the 150 Psalms in the Bible every week. The non-readers who wanted to pray, too, made a string of 150 knots to pray the Psalms to honor Jesus and his Mother. It was called the Psalter.

To greet Our Lady, the episodes in the Annunciation and the Visitation, the Hail Mary (Lk 1:28, 42), is recited.

The salutations were considered as roses (rosarium) of spiritual graces the Virgin Mary bestows on her children.

Each Hail Mary is a salutation equivalent to a rose to form a crown for the Lady which the Blessed Mother returns as a crown of spiritual graces to those who pray the rosary fervently.
The rosary was revealed to Saint Dominic in 1214, when he went into a forest near Toulouse, France, for three days of prayer and penance on how to convert sinners and the heretical sect of Albigenses, who believed the “duality of good and evil and Jesus as a rebel against the cruelty of an omnipotent God.

The Blessed Mother accompanied by three angels appeared to Saint Dominic, and told him to preach the Angelic Psalter. Saint Dominic, with burning zeal, went straight to the cathedral. Unseen angels rang the church bells to gather the people. During his Homily, a storm broke out, the earth shook and the sun darkened, accompanied by thunder and lighting. The picture of the Blessed Mother came to life and she raised her arms thrice toward heaven. The people of Toulouse were converted and “renounced their false beliefs.” Saint Dominic preached about the rosary and instituted the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary in his lifetime. However, after a century, the rosary was “like a thing buried and forgotten.”

In 1460 Blessed Alan restored devotion to the rosary after a reproach from Jesus.
While saying Mass, Jesus spoke to him in the Sacred Host. “How can you crucify me again so soon.... You have all the learning and understanding that you need to preach my Mother’s rosary and you are not doing so.”

Tradition holds that when Mary gave the Rosary to St. Dominic and Blessed Alan de la Roche that she made 15 promises to those who devoutly pray the Rosary. These promises are:
  1. Whosoever shall faithfully serve me by the recitation of the Rosary shall receive signal graces.
  2. I promise my special protection and the greatest graces to all those who shall recite the Rosary.
  3. The Rosary shall be a powerful armor against hell; it will destroy vice, decrease sin and defeat heresies.
  4. It will cause good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for Eternal Things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.
  5. The soul which recommends itself to me by the recitation of the Rosary shall not perish.
  6. Whosoever shall recite the Rosary devoutly, applying himself to the consideration of its Sacred Mysteries shall never be conquered by misfortune. God will not chastise him in his justice, he shall not perish by an unprovided death; if he be just he shall remain in the grace of God, and become worthy of Eternal Life.
  7. Whoever shall have a true devotion for the Rosary shall not die without the Sacraments of the Church.
  8. Those who are faithful to recite the Rosary shall have during their life and at their death the Light of God and the plenitude of his Graces; at the moment of death they shall participate in the Merits of the Saints in Paradise.
  9. I shall deliver from purgatory those who have been devoted to the Rosary.
  10. The faithful children of the Rosary shall merit a high degree of Glory in Heaven.
  11. You shall obtain all you ask of me by recitation of the Rosary.
  12. All those who propagate the Holy Rosary shall be aided by me in their necessities.
  13. I have obtained from my Divine Son that all the advocates of the Rosary shall have for intercessors the entire Celestial Court during their life and at the hour of death.
  14. All who recite the Rosary are my Sons, and brothers of my Only Son Jesus Christ.
  15. Devotion to my rosary is a great sign of predestination (of going to heaven).

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