October: Month of the Holy Rosary
On October 7th, the Church celebrates the feast day of Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary. The feast day was established by Pope Saint Pius V on the anniversary of the victory at Lepanto on October 7, 1571. The naval victory was attributed to the Virgin Mary whose intercession was entreated through the recitation of the Holy Rosary.
The Church then proceeded to dedicate the entire month of October to the Holy Rosary so that individuals, families, and communities would pray the Holy Rosary, if possible, on a daily basis for peace in the world. “Not only do we earnestly exhort all Christians to give themselves to the recital of the pious devotion of the Rosary publicly, or privately in their own house and family, and that unceasingly, but we also desire that the whole of the month of October (in this year) should be consecrated to the Holy Queen of the Rosary” (Pope Leo XII; On Devotion of the Rosary, September 1, 1883).
“Because Mary is our mother, devotion to her teaches us to be authentic sons: to love truly, without limit; to be simple, without the complications which come from selfishly thinking only about ourselves; to be happy, knowing that nothing can destroy our hope. ‘The beginning of the way, at the end of which you will find yourself completely carried away by love for Jesus, is a trusting love for Mary.’ I wrote that many years ago, in the introduction to a short book on the rosary, and since then I have often experienced the truth of those words. I am not going to complete that thought here with all sorts of reasons. I invite you to discover it for yourself, showing your love for Mary, opening your heart to her, confiding to her your joys and sorrows, asking her to help you recognize and follow Jesus” (St. Josemaria Escriva; Christ is Passing By, no. 143).
6 WAYS TO PRAY THE HOLY ROSARY WITH DEVOTION
Inspired by St. Josemaria’s personal example, following are six ways to pray the Holy Rosary with devotion to honor the Queen of the Most Holy Rosary during this special month dedicated to her:
- Pray the rosary daily privately or with friends and family.
“Develop a lively devotion for Our Mother. She knows how to respond in a most sensitive way to the presents we give her. What is more, if you say the Holy Rosary every day, with a spirit of faith and love, Our Lady will make sure she leads you very far along her Son’s path” (Furrow, no. 691).
- Pray the rosary during the day—try not to postpone it until the end of the day or bedtime.
“You always leave the Rosary for later, and you end up not saying it at all because you are sleepy. —If there is no other time, say it in the street without letting anybody notice it. It will, moreover, help you to have presence of God” (Furrow, no. 478).
- If possible, use a book like “Holy Rosary” or an audio recording of the Rosary to help you enter more deeply into each mystery.
“—Have you… ever contemplated these mysteries? (…) Come with me and —this is the essence of what I have to confide— we will live the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. Each day we will render them a new service. We will hear their family conversations. We will see the Messiah grow up. We will admire His thirty years of hidden life… We will be present at His Passion and Death… We will be awed by the Glory of His Resurrection… In a word: we will contemplate, carried away with Love (the only real love is Love), each and every instant of Christ Jesus” (Holy Rosary, Author’s Note).
- When praying the family rosary, especially with young children, use a booklet or app that shows an image for each mystery of the rosary.
- When you see an image of Our Lady at home, on the street or in Church, direct a glance at it and send her an affectionate interior prayer or greeting.
This was a practice St. Josemaria started from a young age and that he recommended to others throughout his life.
- Make a pilgrimage to a nearby church or shrine dedicated to Mary.
St. Josemaria believed that a “local pilgrimage” with a small group of friends or family is a good way to honor the Blessed Virgin and to help us to be more devoted to her. Traditionally, a “local pilgrimage” includes, if possible, walking to and from the shrine or walking part of the way to and from the shrine; reciting five mysteries of the rosary on the way; praying another five mysteries of the rosary at the shrine; and praying another five mysteries of the rosary on the way back.
THE HOLY ROSARY & THE SAINTS
“The experience of the Saints bears witness to it: this popular Marian prayer [the Holy Rosary] is a precious spiritual means to grow in intimacy with Jesus, and to learn at the school of the Blessed Virgin always to fulfill the divine will. To be apostles of the Rosary… it is necessary to experience personally the beauty and depth of this prayer which is simple and accessible to everyone. It is first of all necessary to let the Blessed Virgin take one by the hand to contemplate the Face of Christ: a joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious Face. Those who, like Mary and with her, cherish and ponder the mysteries of Jesus assiduously, increasingly assimilate his sentiments and are conformed to him” (Excerpt from the Meditation of Pope Benedict XVI, On the Recitation of the Holy Rosary, October 19, 2008).
ST. JOSEMARIA ESCRIVA & THE HOLY ROSARY
In 1931, St. Josemaria Escriva wrote Holy Rosary a booklet which contains brief meditations on the mysteries of the Rosary based on his contemplation of the Gospel scenes of the lives of Jesus and Mary.
Holy Rosary captures St. Josemaria’s profound desire to transmit to all generations the fact that “the Church encourages us to contemplate its mysteries. She wants to engrave upon our heart and our imagination, together with Mary’s joy and sorrow and glory, the spellbinding example of Our Lord’s life, in his thirty years of obscurity, his three years of preaching, his ignominious Passion and his glorious Resurrection” (Friends of God, no. 299).
“We should never separate ourselves from Our Lady. How should we honor her? By keeping close to her, talking to her, showing her that we love her, pondering in our hearts the scenes of her life on earth and telling her about our struggles, successes and failures. When we do this we discover the meaning of the Marian prayers, which the Church has always used, as if we were saying them for the very first time. What are the Hail Mary and the Angelus if not loving praises of her divine Motherhood? And when we say the Holy Rosary, which is a wonderful devotion which I will never tire of recommending to Christians everywhere, our minds and hearts go over the mysteries of Mary’s admirable life which are, at the same time, the fundamental mysteries of our faith” (Friends of God, no. 290).