With only a few days left before the Gregorian calendar projects the October page, Catholics once more prepare for the liturgical feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, celebrated annually on October 7, instituted to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary.
This is in gratitude for, the Catholics believe, the protection she gives the Church in answer to the praying of the Rosary by the faithful.
Theologians say the Rosary is more than a prayer and it symbolizes the destiny of the Catholic faithful in and with God according to Mary’s example.
They add that to live up to this destiny, devotees need faith in God’s marvelous deeds, perseverance in his ways (hope) and a practical attitude toward living the faith, that is charity.
But what makes the Rosary important? Again, theologians say these mysteries represent the significant events in the life of Jesus Christ and the rosary is often used as a guide for other Catholic prayers, which are related to challenges or celebrations in the life of one praying the rosary or on behalf of another for whom the prayers are said.
Some have asked, “why do Catholics worship Mary?” In the Roman Catholic teachings, the veneration of Mary is a natural consequence of Christology: Jesus and Mary are son and mother, redeemer and redeemed and the mother is seen as contributing to a fuller understanding of the life of Jesus.
This year, praying of the Rosary will be different from years past, given the pandemic that has initiated protocols and restrictions – with many in at least 1,400 towns in predominantly Christian Philippines, covering 82 provinces including the national capital region or Metro Manila, praying the Rosary online or just with members of families at home.
This month of September, Filipino Catholics, especially the Marian devotees, celebrated one of the oldest Marian solemnities and one of the cardinal feasts of the liturgical devotion to the Blessed Mother – the Feast of the Nativity of Mary, although in a virtual celebration because of the pandemic.
Catholic Church sources say the Liturgy of the Hours, one of the highest expressions of liturgical worship, which involves the recitation of morning, midday, and evening prayers, were held in many churches across the archipelago of 110 million people, more than 88 per cent of whom profess the Catholic faith, brought to the country in the 16th century by Fernando Magallanes who sailed under the flag of Spain.
Catholics believe the Rosary is a remedy against severe trials, temptations and the hardships of life, and that the Rosary is one of the great weapons given to believers in their battle against every evil.
The feast was introduced by Pope St. Pius V (1504-1572) in the year 1571 to mark the miraculous victory of the Christian forces in the Battle of Lepanto on October 7, 1571.
According to theologians, the pope attributed more to the “arms” of the Rosary than the power of cannons and the valor of the soldiers who fought there.
Legend suggests the Rosary as a form of prayer was given to St. Dominic (1170-1221) by Mary, the Mother of Our Lord, who entrusted it to him as an aid in the conflicts with the Albigensians. The Dominican pope, St. Pius V, did much to further the spread of the Rosary and it thereafter became one of the most popular devotions in Christendom.
It was the same Pope St. Pius V, who in 1569 officially approved the Rosary in its present form with the Papal Bull, Consueverunt Romani Pontifices. It had been completed by the addition of the second half of the “Hail Mary” and the “Glory be to the Father” at the conclusion of each mystery.
Bishop Daniel Mueggenborg, an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle, has a message as Catholics approach the Rosary month: “The Rosary is an invitation to experience the grace of Mary’s spiritual motherhood as she leads us to her Son, Jesus.
“For this reason, it has been an invaluable source of countless spiritual graces for the saints. Remember, every time you pray the Rosary you are given the privilege and honor of pronouncing the holy name of Jesus more than 50 times…
“Maybe October would be a good month to turn off the radio or podcast as you commute to work or school and pray the rosary instead. See what graces the Lord wants to pour into your life from the rose garden of this daily meditation.”