Tag Archives: Our Lady

The power of the rosary

Our Lady of the Rosary

Our Lady asked the children at Fatima in 1917 to pray the rosary each day. We would all do well to heed that request, if only because it pleases our Mother. But we benefit too from praying the rosary, which is a very powerful prayer. In this meditation we consider how:

  • The rosary arose out of popular piety.
  • Our Lady urged us to pray the rosary at Lourdes and Fatima.
  • Many Popes and saints have recommended the rosary.
  • The rosary is a powerful prayer which contributed to the conversion of heretics by St Dominic,  victory in the battle of Lepanto, the collapse of communist regimes in the 20th century and the conversion of sinners.

The power of the Rosary

our-lady-of-the-rosary

Our Lady is our intercessor. And, we can ask her to intercede for us using the rosary.

The rosary is a beautiful prayer, in which we honour Our Lady in the Hail Marys and we meditate on the life of Christ in the mysteries. It is also a powerful prayer, which has brought about many great and small blessings over the centuries. In this meditation we consider how:

  • St Dominic used the rosary to win over the heretics
  • The battle of Lepanto was won with many people praying the rosary
  • The communist regime in Russia collapsed after many rosaries were said in response to Our Lady’s request at Fatima
  • Many people have been converted through the rosary
  • Families who pray the rosary find peace and harmony
  • The rosary is a great comfort to the sick and the dying
  • Those who pray the rosary are helped to grow in love for God and Our Lady

Preparing for Christmas with Our Lady

Now that we are in Advent, we want to prepare well for Christmas. A good way to do this is by the hand of Our Lady. After all, she too prepared for the birth of Christ. In this meditation we consider nine lessons Our Lady gives us about how to prepare for this great feast:

  • Avoiding sin and going to confession
  • Docility to the will of God
  • Charity with others
  • Spreading joy
  • Presence of God
  • Not complaining about hardship
  • Penance
  • Contemplation and meditation
  • Bringing Christ to others

Mary, Help of Christians

The feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians, which we celebrate on May 24, has a very interesting history. Here is my answer to a question on it, from my book Question Time 1. 

129. Mary, Help of Christians

I am happy when we celebrate each year the feast of Our Lady, Help of Christians on May 24. But I have always wondered why we make so much of this feast, which does not celebrate a great event in the life as Mary as do, for example, the feasts of the Divine Maternity of Mary, the Annunciation, the Assumption or the Immaculate Conception. Could you please explain why this feast is so important?

You ask a very good question, and the answer goes back a long way. I shall endeavour to answer it succinctly.

The title “Help of Christians” is an old one that forms part of the Litany of Loreto, which is often said after the Rosary. The Litany has its origin in Marian litanies in the early Middle Ages. In 1558 it was published as “The Litany of Loreto” by St Peter Canisius, and it was approved by Pope Sixtus V in 1587.

In 1571, Pope St Pius V asked the Church to pray the Rosary to Our Lady, under the title Help of Christians, for success in the battle that the Christian navy, under the command of Don Juan of Austria, was waging in the Mediterranean against the Turkish navy. It should be remembered that Constantinople had fallen to the Turks in 1453 and, with control of the Mediterranean, the Turks were threatening Rome itself. Although heavily outnumbered, the Christian navy defeated the Turks in a hard-fought battle in the Gulf of Lepanto, off Greece, on October 7, 1571. The following year the Pope instituted a feast in honour of Our Lady on October 7, first called “Our Lady of Victories” and later “Our Lady of the Rosary”.

In 1683, when Vienna was besieged by the Ottoman Turks, Pope Innocent XI asked the Church to pray the Rosary to Our Lady, again under the title of Help of Christians. The battle against overwhelming odds began on September 8, when the Church celebrates Our Lady’s birthday, and it ended successfully four days later, on the feast of the Holy Name of Mary. Thereafter, the military might of the Turks was no longer a threat to Christendom.

In 1804 Napoleon Bonaparte was proclaimed Emperor of France and began to persecute the Church. Pope Pius VII excommunicated him, but in 1809 Napoleon entered the Vatican, arrested the Pope and carried him off in chains to Fontainebleau where he was held prisoner for five years. The Pope managed to communicate to the Church his request for everyone to pray to Our Lady, Help of Christians for his release, promising Our Lady that he would institute a feast in her honour if the prayers were answered. Once again, with the help of the Rosary, the Pope’s wishes were granted. On the 24th May 1814, Napoleon abdicated and on that very day the Pope returned to Rome. As his first official act he proclaimed the feast of Mary, Help of Christians, to be celebrated on the 24th May.

In 1844 the first Provincial Synod of the bishops of Australia, held in Sydney, proclaimed Mary, Help of Christians, the principal patroness of Australia. For that reason the feast has great prominence in this country, and is celebrated as a Solemnity, the highest category of feast.

Australia’s mother church, St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney, is dedicated to Mary the Immaculate, Help of Christians.

So there is much history behind the feast and every reason to thank Our Lady, Help of Christians, for her loving and powerful care for the Church, both the universal Church and the Church in Australia.

Meditation on the Rosary

One of the most popular devotions is the Rosary, which developed out of popular piety over a thousand years ago. This meditation considers the history of the Rosary and contains quotations from saints and Popes encouraging us to say it often and to say it well, especially in the family.